The streets are a little bit safer today as Facebook’s notorious “Spam King” has been indicted on charges of spamming the social networking site. The dastardly criminal, surely one of the planet’s major threats, could face a sentence exceeding 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine. It’s comforting to know that criminals like the “Spam King” face such strenuous sentencing as rapists and murderers can get off easy, isn’t it?
The “Spam King” is Sanford Wallace, a 43-year-old spam tycoon who first got his start in the business of spamming in the go-go 1990s. He was head of Cyber Promotions, a company that sent out roughly 30 million junk emails a day.
As the times moved beyond archaic email and into social networking, so too went the “Spam King.” He now stands accused of sending over 27 million spam messages to Facebook users. In 2009, the man they sometimes call “Spamford” was banned from using social networking sites. He violated the ban.
Wallace was initially indicted on July 6 on six counts of electronic mail fraud, three counts of intentional damage to a protected computer and two counts of criminal contempt. The indictment, filed in a San Jose federal court, says that “Spamford” compromised roughly 500,000 Facebook accounts between November of 2008 and March of 2009. He did this by sending large batches of spam through the company’s servers – three different times.
Wallace allegedly sent “phishing” messages that tricked users into providing Facebook passwords. From there, he logged into the users’ accounts and spammed the walls of friends. When those friends clicked the spam links, Wallace would get paid by the websites that he so sneakily redirected traffic too.
Facebook tried to ban the “Spam King” in 2009 with a restraining order, but the Stephen King lookalike violated that bad boy in less than a month – hence the contempt charges. At the time Facebook won a $711 million judgement, much more than the $230 million judgement MySpace won against Wallace in 2008, but the bankrupt spammer has since been unable to pay. Turns out that, while spamming is his business, business is not altogether good.
Wallace has pleaded not guilty to the indictment and was released on Thursday after paying a $100,000 bond. He’ll be back in court on August 22