Friday, June 01, 2007

King of Spam Canned

Finally a great victory in the war everyone supports.

Longtime 'Spam King' Charged With Fraud

By Alan Sipress
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 1, 2007; A01

From his 17th-floor Seattle apartment overlooking Puget Sound, Robert A. Soloway allegedly ran an illicit network of computers around the world, secretly commandeering the machines of thousands of unsuspecting bystanders. Prosecutors say Internet users who clicked on infected e-mails and Web sites inadvertently took part in his criminal endeavor: spam.

Soloway, 27, used his empire of hijacked "zombie" computers to send tens of millions of unsolicited e-mail messages over the past four years, prosecutors allege. Described as a spammer since he was a teenager, he allegedly covered his digital tracks using Chinese servers, fabricated Web sites and the purloined identities of hundreds of Internet users whose names and e-mail addresses were slapped on the bulk mailings. He opened and closed bank accounts faster than creditors could track them, prosecutors said.

But federal authorities caught up this week with the man prosecutors call the "spam king" and arrested him on 35 charges of fraud, identity theft and money laundering, casting a light on the byzantine, highly lucrative underworld of mass e-mail marketing. Soloway pleaded not guilty.

"He is one of the bad ones. He's one of the longest-running and uses criminal methods all the time," said John Reid, an investigator with Spamhaus, a European organization that fights spam. "Anyone on the Web for a while would have received one of Soloway's spams."

Spamhaus had included him on its list of the 10 worst spammers until last year, when he was overtaken by more-sophisticated operators, primarily in Russia and Ukraine, Reid said.

A lawyer for Soloway could not be reached for comment. more