A techie fantasy come true: Top spammer nabbed on 35 counts

Ever wish you could just reach through the screen and get your hands on the spammers that send you so much junk email that you spend more time deleting it than you do actually reading legit emails? Well, today one of the top ten spammers in the world was arrested on 35 counts of “mail, wire and e-mail fraud; aggravated identify theft; and money laundering.” More, via CBS/AP:

A man described as one of the world’s most prolific spammers was arrested, and U.S. authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk e-mail.

Robert Alan Soloway, 27, is accused of using networks of compromised “zombie” computers to send out millions of spam e-mails.

“He’s one of the top 10 spammers in the world,” said Tim Cranton, a Microsoft Corp. lawyer who is senior director of the company’s Worldwide Internet Safety Programs. “He’s a huge problem for our customers. This is a very good day.”

The arrest comes a week after a federal grand jury returned a 35-count indictment against him, said CBS News correspondent Jim Chenevey. Soloway is charged with mail, wire and e-mail fraud; aggravated identify theft; and money laundering.

Soloway pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon to all charges after a judge determined that — even with four bank accounts seized by the government — he was sufficiently well off to pay for his own lawyer.

Soloway has been living in a ritzy apartment and drives an expensive Mercedes convertible, said prosecutor Kathryn Warma. Prosecutors are seeking to have him forfeit $773,000 they say he made from his business, Newport Internet Marketing Corp.


Prosecutors say Soloway used computers infected with malicious code to send out millions of junk e-mails since 2003. The computers are called “zombies” because owners typically have no idea their machines have been infected.

He continued his activities even after Microsoft won a $7 million civil judgment against him in 2005 and the operator of a small Internet service provider in Oklahoma won a $10 million judgment, prosecutors said.

U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan said this case is the first in the country in which federal prosecutors have used identity theft statutes to prosecute a spammer for taking over someone else’s Internet domain name. Soloway could face decades in prison, though prosecutors said they have not calculated what guideline sentencing range he might face.

Whatever the max penalty is, it’s too bad they can’t add about fifty years to it. Jerk spammers and virus-spreaders deserve it for all the hastle and expense they put individuals and businesses through.

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