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'King of spam' pleads guilty, faces 26 years in prison

Soloway not bragging so much after latest trial

By Robert McMillan
March 15, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - The notorious spammer authorities had dubbed "the king of spam" is facing a possible 26-year jail sentence after pleading guilty in Seattle on Friday to charges of fraud and tax evasion.

Robert Soloway, 28, had already been found guilty of spam charges in several civil cases -- Microsoft Corp. won a $7.8 million judgment against him in 2005 -- but had avoided paying fines in those cases.

He was arrested on criminal charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in May 2007.

In a 2005 discussion-group post, Soloway bragged, "I've been sued for hundreds of millions of dollars and have had my business running for over 10 years without ever paying a dime, regardless to the outcome of any lawsuits."

That year, Soloway raked in more than $300,000 from his spam operations, according to his plea agreement.

Soloway has avoided fines in the past, but this time around, he may not be so lucky. In addition to the jail time he now faces, he has also agreed to discuss his financial assets while being monitored by a lie detector.

While there have been hundreds of prosecutions in the U.S. for unsolicited commercial e-mail, it is extremely rare for spammers to face criminal charges, and those involved in the matter say that Soloway's case could serve as a deterrent to other spammers.

In an interview last month, Microsoft senior attorney Aaron Kornblum said he thought the prosecution would make other spammers think twice. "There have not been a large number of criminal CAN-SPAM prosecutions in the U.S.," he said, referring to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003. "This is significant."

Soloway is set to be sentenced on June 20. The prosecution had been seeking $700,000 in damages when Soloway was first charged nearly a year ago.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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