Top Spammer Arrested… But Will It Matter?

from the probably-not dept

While both Microsoft and an ISP have won multi-million dollar judgments against Robert Alan Soloway for spamming, he apparently kept on spamming. This time around, he might not have it so easy. Rather than a civil case from a company, he’s now been arrested for sending out millions of spam emails over a zombie network he put together — and it looks like the feds threw everything they could think of against him: mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Apparently, the identity theft part was for “taking over someone’s domain” (though, it’s not clear here if they mean falsifying an email address or for the zombie network). Either way, it’s hard to believe that this will really have much of an impact. After all, other spammers have been arrested (and jailed) before and it’s not like the spam has gone down. So it seems a bit ridiculous for the federal authorities who are going after the guy to claim that people should see the amount of spam they receive start going down due to this arrest. Someone else will simply step in and fill the gap pretty quickly.


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Comments on “Top Spammer Arrested… But Will It Matter?”

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42 Comments
The infamous Joe says:

Take that, mom!

You know, I gave a similar reason not to make my bed when I was a kid, “But, mom, it will just get unmade again tonight!”

I agree that taking out this one guy will end up being ineffective, but that’s not a good reason to stop trying to catch these douchebags.

Though, I think we should forget about spam and worry about the freakin’ zombies!!!1111 😉

MadJo (profile) says:

Learn to read!

It’s not the fact that the guy got arrested that is ridiculous, but rather the “claim that people should see the amount of spam they receive start going down due to this arrest”

That claim is just bogus.

It’s good that the guy got arrested (and hopefully gets sentenced (I’d be an awful jury member in this case, though the prosecutor would love me)), but it won’t stop spamming in any way, nor will we see much of a decline in the amount of spam.

2US says:

Re: Learn to read!

“It’s not the fact that the guy got arrested that is ridiculous, but rather the “claim that people should see the amount of spam they receive start going down due to this arrest”

That claim is just bogus.”

On my account alone Spam Assissin has detected 84 messages in the last 7 days versus an aerage of more than 400 a week for the previous month.

Have to say the claim seems less than bogus from my perspective.

Regards
Peter

JIMMIE says:

Re: So?

SO TRUE ! YES, YES !
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DONT BELIEVE ME, LOOK FOR IT ONLINE SEE FOR URSELF !

gdwntx says:

what spam?

I have to say I have no spam. I use GMAIL AVG and ZONE ALARM
along with other spam blockers. I HAVE NO SPAM. Why is it others can not do the same. Every thing i us is free and works well. I still have an AOL ACCT. and even there the spam filters do the job and I just hit DELET. I must be missing somthing but I just do not get the spam others do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: what spam?

I was the same for awhile with my gmail account. I never gave out my address to anything slightly shady. Then out of nowhere, and take my word for it: it was out of nowhere. I was getting massive amounts of spam. It’s simply ’cause mjoslin is a valid gmail account, hence spam will continue to be sent to it.

James says:

Re: what spam?

Fine. You get no spam, great. But you’re missing the point. Being that you should not have to do these things in the first place.

People grumble about spam but don’t get fed up since its not directly costing them money. If every email you received cost you something… you’d change your tune, especially if half of them were bulls**t from a**hole hawking viagra or pr0n.

We need to put these spamming losers under the jail.

Rich Kulawiec says:

It won't really matter in the long run

We’ve seen this movie before. At worst, he’ll get off with
a mere slap on the wrist, and will laugh all the way to the
bank, having paid some minimal fine and perhaps done
some light time. It will make absolutely no difference
of any kind with the overall spam problem, of course,
because he’ll be back at it soon enough, and others —
seeing how easily he got off — will make their own efforts.

FCC Commissioner Orson Swindle had it right: “What
we need are a few good hangings.”

And the Feds are clueless if they’re really citing “millions”
of spams — big-time spammers like this send at least
that many in a single hour.

Matt Seckora (user link) says:

spam

Everyone seems to have great answers. I get spam because my email address is posted on the internet since I run a computer consulting company. The spam sits in a filter and I go through it. So I have no problems either. I could forward it to my gmail, yahoo, or hotmail account so it gets filtered more then it is now.

Question for everyone that gets spam. if you run what comment Number 10 is doing lets get techdirt.com or someone to survey how much spam after a month of installing these filters and or protecting the emails get.

CHAZ says:

spam

I have several gmail accounts and have been flowing the spam flow..some accounts after I signed in to geocaching account produced heavy spam, World Market-heavy heavy spam and others. Accounts not given out-no spam (these are accounts I just send info I want to keep on record. It also seems any overseas email contact (i’m in usa) produces more spam. Just observations.

Leroy says:

Solving spam

Add this to the federal tax forms:

Would you like $5 of this return to go to fund the international spam and internet fraud police/execution squad?

Then we make it a crime to do business with or click on any spam.

I think our ISP’s are responsible for selling our addresses to spammers that fill our boxes. I make ones like “x5ty7$49a@netzero.com” and I still get spam, that proves that ISP provider netzero is selling my address.

Yahoo is extremely effective at blocking spam, I see perhaps 3 in a month.

“L”

Gmailer (user link) says:

Still Spam

Just because it goes to your “Spam” Filter doesn’t mean that you don’t get the spam. I have not gotten any spam mails in my “Inbox” however I still have 1019 spam messages in my “spam” folder. If I were using a personal server to store all of my emails in I would still be charged for the space that these emails take up, regardless of the fact that they were filtered into a folder never to be seen and deleted weekly.

It’s a typical ostrich approach to just assume that because you don’t see something it isn’t there.

Trouble Maker says:

two cents worth

I have been away to long. So after a long silence I find myself responding to this.

There are many things in this world that I find unacceptable; spamming is one of those things. There are social rules we live to attempt to live peacefully with each other is this ever shrinking world.

I live my life by several simple rules, the first is “Each and every person has the right to do what ever they want to do as long as it does not infringe on the rights of any other person. When an act of exercising those rights leads to an action that encroaches upon someone else’s the person responsible forfeits their rights.”

Now, these people can be gathered into large communities, separated from the general population being a strain on those willing to follow the rules.

Or

They can be gathered into one place and quickly and cost efficiently recycled into a product that benefits the general population in the most positive manner, like being converted into petroleum. The Soylent Green of the 21st century.

InfDeath says:

Eye for an eye

Ok, so this guy should be ordered to read aloud his longest spam message, he will be timed(pictures are worth one thousand words) the time it takes him to read said spam will be multiplied by the number sent, he will then have to do community service for this ammount of time to make up for wasting other people’s time. He won’t have to serve time but he’ll have to sponge bathe senior citizens for the rest of his life.

Marble Taker says:

Spam

Spam? what Spam? Barracuda rocks! Put that scumbag in jail where he belongs. When people start doing 15-20 years for this stuff, the problem will diminish.
In the mean time, I’d rather have my users worry about the stuff they’re NOT getting because of the Spam firewall then the 65000 spam messages coming in every month.

The infamous Joe says:

Utopia

Not that it isn’t annoying and all, but aren’t there murders and rapes and such that should be dealt with before we all get up in arms about something that, from reading comments, we don’t even really get bothered with thanks to filters and such? I mean seriously.. on the grand scheme of problems with the world, spam is really really low on the list.

I was just wondering.

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Re: Utopia

No way — spam costs me time and money to protect myself, costs my employer big $ to do the same for our corporate networks. They are also guilty of screwing up the best communications tool in many years.

Spammers burn in hell. If we can only throw them in jail, then I will take it.

Other cops can chase the violent criminals, this is not a zero sum game.

Paul says:

Think smarter

We WILL see less spam if this guys arrest gets published enough.
Will the amount of spam go down in a huge way just because he is no longer spamming? No, and that is the ONLY thing all of you are thinking about.

If other spammers see this guy get taken down hardcore, then they might start thinking to themselves “hmm maybe now is a good time to stop before *I* get caught”

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Think smarter

If other spammers see this guy get taken down hardcore, then they might start thinking to themselves “hmm maybe now is a good time to stop before *I* get caught”

Jeremy Jaines got sent to jail for 9 years and was fined millions… and spam continued to increase. These guys don’t think they’re going to get caught, and punishment isn’t stopping the spammers.

The infamous Joe says:

Not Harder...

Unless I’m mistaken, spam is legal. This guy broke the rules, but taking him out doesn’t mean spam goes away. So, if we arrest everyone who is breaking the law with spam, you’d *still* get spam– which means you can write your politician of choice (hardly anyone does) or fix it on your end with a junk mail filter. Not that I am in favor of spam, but honestly, it isn’t something that keeps me up at night. You might as well aim your jihad against pop-ups, which used to be a real problem until every browser under the sun integrated a pop-up blocker.

My junk mail box hovers around 500 or so, but nothing gets through that I don’t want. And that’s just with gmail– nothing else. No time and no money on my part.

Also, Mr. Geezer, you tossed out the fun phrase “zero sum game” which I thought meant that my gains were my opponent’s losses, and vice versa. I fail to see how it should apply to your topic. However, I’d like to remind you that taking one cop and making him hunt down a “Spam King” is one less cop that can be hunting down a rapist. (I’m not sure what you meant, really.)

John (profile) says:

Effective punishment

For pushiment to be an effective deterrent, it needs to be swift and certain.
Why don’t I rob a bank? Because I know I’ll be caught and I know I’ll go to jail?

Why do spammers send spam? Because they know they will not be caught. And even if they are caught, what are the chances that they’ll go to jail?
Mike mentions one guy who got sent to jail for 9 years? Who else? Out of the billions and billions of spam messages that have been sent out, how many people have gone to jail?

Now add in the fact that many spammers either operate overseas or operate a zombie network overseas. It would take a *LOT* of work to get that country’s government to extradite the spammer to the US to stand trial.

So, while it’s great to hear that a spammer was arrested, I don’t think arrests and jail time is an effective deterrent.

Instead, someone (I’m not sure who) should educate people about not clicking on links in e-mails, not buying products from spammers, installing anti-spyware tools, and to start complaining to any company mentioned in spam e-mail.
Basically, the only effective way to stop spam is to stop the income from spam. If spammers can’t make any money at it, they’ll stop doing it.

Rich Kulawiec says:

John's right (in comment #34)

I’ve been fighting spam longer than almost anyone — in fact, since before the slang term “spam” was even coined. (We called it
“mass mail abuse” and other similar things 20 years ago.) And
I’ve seen all kinds of supposed “solutions” to spam — from
junk like SPF (“Spam as a technical problem is solved by SPF” — yeah,
right) to poorly-designed spam-spewing appliances (of which Barracuda is a major offender) to idiocy like pay-per-email.

None of these have worked, and none of them are going to work.
They fail because none of them do what’s necessary: pin
responsibility for the spam problem on those who are responsible
for it. By that I mean holding system and network operators
responsible for what comes out of their networks; holding
web hosts responsible for what they’re hosting; holding registrars
responsible for who their customers are; etc. NOBODY gets a
pass, nobody gets to say “not my problem”. Anyone providing
any form of support to any spammer/phisher/etc. needs to
stop, stop now, stop permanently, and ban those people for life.

(Yes, for life. One thing we’ve learned is that there is no such
thing as an ex-spammer. Not until they’re dead. See “Spamford”.)

Until this happens, the spam problem will continue to get worse.

And the only way to make this happen is to blacklist — to
refuse to provide services to those entities that are supporting
spam. This makes it THEIR problem instead of OUR problem —
it imposes economic pain (when done by a sufficient number of
people) that appears to be the only way to direct the attention
of those responsible to the problem.

It’s sad that this is the case. But it’s been proven, over and
over again, beyond any possible argument, that this is exactly
how it works. So be it. We can either resign ourselves to living
with an ever-growing spam problem, or we can have the guts
to blacklist those responsible. Choose.

JIMMIE says:

IF UR DUMB ENOUGH TO TRY, GO AHEAD, THE FEDS WANT THAT !
THEREZ NEVER TOO MUCH FOR THE FEDS TO HANDLE, MORE MONEY FOR THE FEDS ! WOULD YOU WANT TO GO TO PRISON FOR SENDING OUT STUPID EMAILS ?ALL THOSE THAT ARE STILL SPAMMING, WILL EVETUALLY BE CAUGHT SOONER OR LATER ! YES THEY WILL BE REPLACED, REPLACED BY DUMB IDIOTS ! & THEY WILL BE CAUGHT AS WELL! WHO DOESNT KNOW UNTIL ITS TOO LATE ! I LOVE IT, AMERICA IS SUCH A AWSOME COUNTRY TO LIVE IN !

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