Robert Soloway dubbed the “Spam King” was sentenced in Washington yesterday, according to an article in the Seattle Intelligencer.

For his misdeeds, Soloway was sentenced to just under four years. Notably, Soloway was the second person to be prosecuted under the Can-Spam Act. It should also be noted that the prosecutors asked for about twice the time in prison and with good behavior, Soloway will probably only serve about half of the sentence he received.

Like most of the many “Spam Kings” out there, Soloway allegedly used a botnet (army of zombie computers) to saturate the electronic universe with e-trash, including advertisements from commercial clients. To give everybody an idea of the scope of Soloway’s activity, he allegedly sent out 90 million e-mails in a three-month period.

The made me wonder if anyone is looking at the commercial clients? Of course, everyone knows that “Spam Kings” send out a lot more than commercial advertisements, including a variety of scams designed to steal from unwary people. They also tout knock-off drugs, merchandise, software and porn.

Spam is also used to deliver malicious software, which can steal all your personal and financial information. Ironically, spam also delivers malware designed to turn a system (part of a botnet), which is then used to send out even more spam.

In fact, spam designed to send out even more spam best describes Soloway’s operation. Using a company, Newport Internet Marketing Corporation (NIM), he offered a broadcast e-mail software product and broadcast e-mail services. His website promised a full refund if a customer wasn’t satisfied, however in reality, if anyone ever complained they were threatened with financial charges and collection agencies.

According to the Department of Justice press release, one customer tried to complain about the amount of spam he was getting and Soloway’s response was to send him even more spam.

The press release also mentions that he willfully failed to pay his taxes after earning more than $300,000 in 2005.

Interestingly, enough another “Spam King,” Edward “Eddie” Davidson simply walked out of a minimum security facility in Colorado about the same time Soloway was sentenced. Davis allegedly made $3.5 million spamming for about 20 commercial clients. Like Soloway, he failed to pay any taxes on the proceeds of his misdeeds.

Unfortunately, Soloway’s conviction or Davidson’s escape is unlikely to make much of a dent in spam anytime in the near future. Earlier this month, Symantec reported blocking 3.5 million spam messages over the 4th of July holiday. Their monthly spam report reported that over 80 percent of all e-mail sent is spam. The 80 percent statistic (and greater) has been a sad fact for several months now.

Notable trends on the last report included using the China earthquake to spread viruses and the use of fake new flashes (like U.S.A. attacks Iran) to net Internet crime victims.

We probably shouldn’t be too quick to celebrate Soloway’s conviction. He is obviously just one of many “Spam Kings” operating out there. Hopefully, as time goes on, we will see more of these so-called spam superstars put behind bars. After all, just about anything that is distasteful or illegal on the Internet normally starts with a spam e-mail.

On a final note, both Soloway and Davidson seemed to be servicing a lot of commercial clients. Maybe if the legal emphasis shifted towards the people paying spammers, there would be less incentive (money) for spammers to pollute the Internet!

Update: In a horrifying twist to Eddie Davidson’s escape, it has now been reported by the AFP that he killed himself after killing his wife and their three month old daughter. Davidson’s seven month old son was left in the car unharmed and his sixteen year old daughter was shot in the neck before escaping.

Given these circumstances, I wonder if anyone is going to question why Davidson was locked up in a minumum security facility that he was able to walk away from?

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