Spamford Wallace Surrenders To The FBI; May Finally Go To Jail

from the wow dept

If you’re an internet “old timer” who paid attention to the early “spam wars,” you know the name of Sanford “Spamford” Wallace. While plenty of people have been described as “the spam king,” he was the original kingpin (starting in the junk fax business, and then moving on to email in the mid-90s). He was proud of being called the spam king… but after the business started to become risky, he claimed that he “retired” in the late 90s, and (partially) owned a nightclub. However, the lure of the spam was apparently too much. He jumped into the spyware business and ran into trouble with the FTC. Things got weird when Wallace disappeared and his lawyer asked to withdraw from the case, noting that he couldn’t reach Wallace. Wallace was hit with a massive fine from the FTC, which it appears he ignored.

He then moved on to spamming MySpace, which got him sued. His strategy was established: he just ignored the lawsuit. The end result? A $234 million fine. Of course, MySpace went downhill and up came Facebook. Facebook sued him in 2009 and won an astounding $711 million. This time, Wallace actually did show up in court, but claimed he was totally bankrupt. We wondered, at the time, if there was actually anything that could be done to stop him, since he seemed to just keep on spamming, and the fines (and some of the cases themselves) being issued against him were just ignored. There were some questions two years ago if he’d finally be brought up on criminal charges, and it appears that’s finally happened.

Wallace apparently surrendered to the FBI after an indictment last month. He’s now facing 40 years in jail and a potential $2 million fine (which seems like nothing compared to the earlier fines).

Some of the details in the article also suggest that Wallace simply couldn’t stay away from Facebook, despite a court order not to access the site at all:

Wallace, who was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in 2009 not to access Facebook, was also charged with violating that order by accessing the social network on an airline flight from Las Vegas to New York in April 2009 and by maintaining an account under the name David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks for a few weeks earlier this year.

I will say that 40 years sounds excessive. However, it also seems clear that he has no interest in following the law when it comes to these things.

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Companies: facebook, myspace

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Comments on “Spamford Wallace Surrenders To The FBI; May Finally Go To Jail”

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28 Comments
PRMan (profile) says:

I hate spam...

I hate spam as much as the next guy (probably more, since I skip ads with my DVR like a banshee), but I don’t think any property crime should ever exceed 10 years. A decade (read as 7 years) is a long time to think about your property crimes.

It’s to the point now where computer crimes are punished 7-8x as much as non-lethal violent crimes.

Manabi (profile) says:

Re: I hate spam...

Honestly, the article doesn’t break it down, but it sounds like he’s facing at least as much time, if not more, for his contempt of court charges as he is for the actual hacking charges. And it’s hard to see even the hacking charges as too severe when he was charged with breaking into 500,000+ accounts. That’s a LOT of accounts to break into, it’s not just a one-off thing. Then he violated the court’s temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction and continued to access Facebook. And let’s not forget his long history of ignoring lawsuits and court orders prior to this.

Judges don’t like it when you ignore court orders. Whatever sentence he gets will be much more influenced by his total lack of respect for the courts than for how many computers he broke into. Society sure as hell will be better off with him not loose to do whatever he wants.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:

One of the enduring truths about spammers...

…is that there’s no such thing as an “ex-spammer”. Zero recorded cases, ever. Certainly there are many *claims* of such cases, almost all of which come from (surprise) spammers or their supporters/enablers/partners/suppliers. But those claims evaporate when examined closely enough. (Or when we wait a few months or years — sometimes they do take a break.)

Oh, and incidentally, Internet “old-timers” find Spamford and his ilk a relatively new problem.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

"Spamford" Wallace

Pegging again.
If the POSSIBLE term is 40 years, so what?
If he was SENTENCED to 40 years, massive miscarriage of justice.
If he faces such a term, and then acts in a totally scornful way, continuing on, then maybe 40 years is reasonable.
Pegging on a POSSIBLE term as if it was the sentence makes no sense whatsoever.

DannyB (profile) says:

Sorry to disagree Mike

While I think 40 years sounds excessive, in this case, I think it may not be.

This is a person who has ignored or evaded the law for years. He just goes on. No court order will stop him. No conviction will stop him.

I think nothing short of keeping him safely locked up can stop him.

It’s not that he’s violent. He simply cannot stop inflicting billions of dollars of harm on society, which thinking he’s doing nothing wrong.

He could be in minimum security. But he needs to be locked up at this point. Things have gone on for two long. He has clearly and willfully demonstrated that he simply will not stop.

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