A man described by Microsoft as one of the top ten spammers in the world has been sentenced to nearly four years in jail after pleading guilty to charges of fraud, spamming and tax evasion.
Robert Soloway, dubbed the Spam King, admitted to using a spamming utility called Dark Mailer to send more than 50,000 emails an hour to internet users. The software changed the headers of emails to that of the recipient’s address to fool spam filters.
"I take full responsibility for everything I've done. I am sorry for all the people that got the e-mails," he said.
“I am very embarrassed and ashamed.”
Prosecutors had asked for nine years in prison, considering the scale of his activities and the fact that he had previously been caught spamming in 1999 and had promised to change his ways then, but simply moved to a different state and carried on as before.
"The government believes that it is important uniquely in this unprecedented e-mail fraud case to recognise and pronounce publicly, and emphatically, that fraud in e-mail is a serious crime," said the prosecution team.
"The financial and societal costs of this crime are immense."
The defence team argued for leniency as Soloway’s software didn’t interfere with individuals PCs, did not try and spread malware and never advertised pornography.
In addition to his sentence Soloway will serve three years probation and do 200 hours of community service. Prosecutors want to seize US$705,000 in Soloway's property but he maintains that most of the money has already been spent.
Microsoft has also won a case against Soloway and been awarded US$7.8 million in a civil case, but is unlikely to see any financial reward. An American ISP has also been awarded more than US$10 million in a similar case.
It seems likely that Soloway will not be spending his sentence at a low security facility, after another spammer absconded from his jail this weekend
Spam King Soloway sent down for 47 months
By Iain Thomson on Jul 24, 2008 9:57AM