Robert Alan Soloway, described by many as one of the world’s biggest spammers, was arrested yesterday in Seattle for Internet crimes. He is accused of using “zombie” computers to send millions of spam emails to individuals and businesses.
Last week a federal grand jury handed down an indictment against Soloway, listing 35 counts that included: mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
“Zombie” computers are computers that are taken over with computer code, and the owners typically never know their machine is under the control of someone else. These controlled machines are then used to send massive, bulk spam emails. In Soloway’s case, he used the compromised computers to send bulk e-mails that invited people to use his Internet marketing company to advertise their products via email advertisements. Soloway’s company adversited the aility to send up to 20 million emails over 15 days, at a cost of $495.
It is said that Soloway got rich from this spamming… driving a high-end Mercedes and living in an expensive apartment. Microsoft won a $7 million civil judgment against Soloway in 2005 and an ISP in Oklahoma has alswo won a $10 million judgment against him.
U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan said this case is the first in the country to use identity theft statutes to prosecute a spammer who takes over someone else’s domain name. The investigation began after numerous complaints about Soloway, who was featured on a list of known spammers kept by The Spamhaus Project.