For Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) America Online division, battling spam has become a grand mission. The company's televised ad campaigns have highlighted its efforts on that front. Press releases in the past have been dedicated to showing how reported spam is down dramatically on the service. Now, after successfully suing prolific spammers, AOL is taking things to the next promotional level by giving away its settlement booty in what it's calling the AOL Spammer's Gold Sweepstakes.

Where does one draw the line between being a corporate good Samaritan and a clever marketer? Well, does it really matter? AOL has the perfect backstory of seizing a New Hampshire spammer's goods -- including a shiny yellow Hummer H2, $75,000 in cash, and 33 gold bars -- to play into its latest giveaway campaign. When you've got a hot car, a pile of greenbacks, and some bullion, everything else just falls into place. That's why AOL isn't just rewarding one lucky entrant with a high-end SUV. A daily entry form features a self-serving trivia question aimed at giving away another $1,000 each day. For instance, did you know that AOL blocks 1.5 billion pieces of unwanted mail daily? Well, now you know.

It's not just folks on AOL who are bellyaching about inboxes being barraged by unsolicited marketing material. Whether it's through ISPs such as Earthlink (NASDAQ:ELNK) and United Online (NASDAQ:UNTD) or through free email providers such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), spam is obviously still a nuisance out there.

Successfully going after serial spammers is bound to help. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a $7 million spam settlement with a notorious mass marketer, after working with New York's state attorney general to set "spam traps" to catch the dot-com killjoy.

Is Mr. Softy's Golden Ticket Sweepstakes on the way? That's unlikely. However, AOL seems committed to disbursing any future settlements to its members.

"AOL will find you and sue you," the online service warns spammers in describing the contest. "And AOL will do everything it can to make sure its members end up with any money you made as a spammer."

Now, if only AOL would be willing to cut in its subscribers on some of the money being generated by the service's advertising clients. That truly would be one golden giveaway.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been an AOL subscriber since 1992 -- and speaking Spanish since he was born -- but he doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.