The Internet`s Most Wanted Spammers - We Got One
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Robert Soloway led the average middle class, suburban life growing up in Smileytown, North Carolina. Then one day, his parents were kidnapped and held for ransom by socialist activists. They developed a bad case of Stockholm syndrome and decided to join them in their revolutionary endeavors, never to see Robert again. He spent the rest of his life at an orphanage on Death Island plotting his revenge on society. When he got out, he was no longer Robert Soloway, he was...the Spam King!
Okay, so none of that is true (I'm trying to paint a picture here, sheesh), but Robert Soloway was one of the most prolific spammers of all time (and he IS known as the Spam King, albeit by federal prosecutors). His legal troubles garnered national headlines starting in 2005, when Microsoft won a $7.8 million civil judgment against him for hijacking zombie computers and sending out spam email with false header information, which made them look like they were from MSN and Hotmail addresses. Later that year, an Oklahoma ISP won over $10 million in a similar case that also resulted in an injunction against Soloway, which prohibited him from further spam activity.
And how did our criminal mastermind handle these crippling mandates against him? He mocked them. In an interview with Brian McWilliams of Oreillynet.com, Soloway said, "One of my subcontractors...clearly did not do what I hired them to do. They broke the rules, and violated my policy." Yes, our boy continued spamming as though the lawsuits had never happened. One campaign sent clients' website addresses to several million "opt-in" email addresses. And since the service was free if clients agreed to a disclaimer saying they were a nonprofit organization that aided child abuse victims, they did not violate CAN-SPAM, or at least that's what Soloway thought.
In May 2007, Soloway was indicted by a grand jury on 35 charges (a list which eventually grew to 40) including mail fraud, email fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, and money laundering. He pleaded guilty in March 2008 to felony mail fraud, fraud in connection with email, and not filing a tax return in 2005. All other charges were dropped as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
The sentencing came on July 22, 2008 - 47 months in federal prison. His lawyers tried to downplay his actions in comparison with other spammers (e.g. he didn't damage anyone's computer and he didn't direct anyone to pornography), but the court decided they wanted to send a message to other online criminals.
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