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31 May 2007, 20:12

"Spam King" arrested in the US

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In the US, a 27 year old from Seattle has been brought to trial for distributing spam. The man, a US citizen and one of the world's most notorious spammers, has been accused of multiple counts of identity theft, money laundering and fraud. The suspect was arrested and brought before a judge for the first time yesterday (Wednesday). He will remain in custody until his bail hearing on Monday. Should the alleged spammer be found guilty in a jury trial, he faces a very long jail term. According to US media reports, the maximum penalty for all of the allegations combined totals 65 years.

The accused, Robert S., and his company Newport Internet Marketing Corporation (NIM) have, since 2003, allegedly been responsible for sending billions of unsolicited advertising e-mails, some using botnets. He also sold software for sending out mass e-mails, and sold mass e-mail services, thereby breaching anti-spam legislation (the CAN-SPAM Act). The accused allegedly also sometimes manipulated the sender details in the e-mail header so that the recipient also appeared as the sender of the unsolicited message.

"Spam is a scourge of the internet," declared District Attorney Jeffrey Sullivan, who considers the accused one of the most notorious spammers in the business. "Our investigators called him the Spam King, because he has been responsible for millions of spam e-mails." The action has been brought following a joint investigation by the FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the US Postal Inspection Service and the US Department of Justice's Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property program (CHIP). According to the investigators, around 200 million spam e-mails linked to the accused were received at 2 server groups over an eight week period. Experts reckon that the accused is responsible for many billions of unsolicited e-mails.

The investigators are still searching for around 770,000 US dollars which the accused apparently earned through NIM. Some of the accused's bank accounts have already been frozen. He claims not to have any money, "but he drives a very expensive car and lives in a very expensive apartment," said Sullivan. In actions brought by Microsoft and other plaintiffs the accused has previously been ordered to pay damages (7 million US dollars to Microsoft alone) and to desist, but according to reports has neither paid up nor ceased his spamming activities.


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