'Rizler' spammer rolls up in court

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A spammer alleged to have sent over a billion unsolicited emails to AOL users has finally been arrested and faces up to six months in jail.

Christopher Smith, also known as "Rizler", is expected to appear in court today after his arrest at Minneapolis St. Paul International airport last week. The US Attorney's office claims that Smith had broken court orders and is recommending that he be held in criminal contempt and jailed for six months.

He was arrested shortly after stepping off a flight from the Dominican Republic, where he had been operating since a federal judge in May shut down his businesses, Burnsville Internet and Xpress Pharmacy Direct, and ordered him to stop selling drugs. Smith had since set up a similar operation in that country.

It is alleged Smith sent more than one billion spam emails either to AOL email addresses or through AOL email accounts. The FBI claims that Smith has already made about $18 million this year. According to the FBI, 25-year-old Smith had flown to the Dominican Republic under a false passport, after his was seized by authorities and used a cash card to obtain money from a bank account since his own had been seized by a court order.

"There are huge profits to be made from spam, and organized criminals are prepared to break many laws in their greed for money. Rizler has been one of the most notorious spammers, and anyone who has been deluged with spam offering medication and drugs will welcome the US authorities making progress in this case," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Of course, spam wouldn't be profitable if no-one bought the goods sold via spam."


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