by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
guilty, robert alan soloway, spam

Top Spammer Pleads Guilty, But Spam Still Going Strong

from the significant-blows... dept

Last May, we noted that spammer Robert Alan Soloway had been arrested and the book was being thrown at him: mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, tax fraud and money laundering were included in the charges. On Friday he pleaded guilty to three of the charges: mail fraud, wire fraud and failure to file a tax return. The rest of the charges were dropped, and he now faces up to 26 years in jail. It's not like he didn't know everyone was on to him. He had previously lost civil lawsuits from Microsoft and some others. Still, when he was arrested last May federal authorities actually claimed that the arrest might lead to a decrease in spam. How did that work out?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    slimcat (profile), Mar 17th, 2008 @ 6:28pm

    Spam score: Feds-0, Spammers-3(+)*10^9/day

    Still, when he was arrested last May federal authorities actually claimed that the arrest might lead to a decrease in spam. How did that work out?

    I don't recall any fluctuation from last may but I do know that spam on my cox-mail and gmail accounts has increased 50-60% in the last two weeks. Anyone else seen this kind of increase, or is it just me?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Bill W, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Spam score: Feds-0, Spammers-3(+)*10^9/day

    Yes, I was just commenting to my wife that the spam load is up by a noticeable amount; she agreed that it appeared the same to her. I just don't understand it. If I get 20 of a particular spam or 100 it doesn't make any difference in my reaction, it all goes into the trash. I mean, if I didn't want it the first 20 times why do they think I'll be any more interested the 21st time or the 100th time?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Matt, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 7:15pm

    I have noticed that too... with my gmail account. I used to get at most 10 spam emails a day... i'm around 200 a day now. just started within the past few days

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 8:01pm

    Throwing spammers in jail is the wrong tactic.

    We need sting operations--government spam, that induces idiots to make purchases, whereupon they are arrested and tried for contributing to the spamming menace by responding to spammers. Once the $idiots$ dry up, the spammers will begone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Quantity Surveyor Man, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 8:12pm

    A suitable punishment

    For convicted spammers I say use them for medical experiments. You know, infect them with Ebola etc. and test out new treatments and drugs on them. It would give their worthless lives some meaning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Some guy w/ a solution, Mar 17th, 2008 @ 11:49pm

    i spam therefore i am

    This is y i love auto-replys. I got a hotmail (junk acct, registration for stupid webbies that DEMAND your email addy). and then i got my gmail acct (which is my own personal one). I dont get stupid little "Bob has invited you to join we.todd.did" msgs cuz the first time i get 1 from you i make a point of adding your email addy to my list of auto-delete auto-response (god i luv thunderbird) peoples.

    "-- Thankyou for send me more of your useless junk. whether this email is indeed useless, i do not and never will know. This is an auto-response. Your email has been auto-deleted. I told you this would happen if i got stupid little invites or uselss chain letters saying how 2 get $1,000 dollars from microsoft by forwarding the email to 90 billion people w/ the mandatory "It really works" testimonials. If u HAVE to reach me u can try my hotmail (checked once a month @ best... most messages automatically deleted via select all.... u'd better hope i spot it otherwise i wont even check)."

    Works fabulously. Family doesnt send me useless crap. I still get pix n vid-mails n what not but its nvr through some stupid online service they just send me the avi's or web-links to their flickr or myspace. And although iv "un-banned" people before.... they usually get it after the first time and dont make the same mistake again.

    Some may call it passive aggressive... i call it passive effective.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Mar 18th, 2008 @ 3:43am

    No spam decrease here

    I'm even seeing more spam that gets around the gmail filters. Hope Google gets on top of that soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Your English Teacher, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 3:50am

    Re: i spam therefore i am

    Apparently your solution also includes using stupid contractions of words. This is not a cell phone - it's a blog and you CAN and SHOULD use entire words. Or, are you one of the illiterate millions who thinks everyone does it, no one will mind?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    mike allen, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 5:22am


    To Techdirt and some guy w/ a solution
    for bringing my attention to thunderbird I already use Mazilla Firefox so having read your post i downloaded Thunderbird.

    oh yes Spammers send them to Iraq or Afganistan tie their legs and hand leave them in a trouble spot with an American flag.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 5:53am

    Re: No spam decrease here

    Interesting, I get almost no spam in my gmail inbox. Compared to my now unused Yahoo email it is a world of difference. I wonder why some are getting a different experience than I am?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Huh?, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 7:22am

    The spammers are just trying to help the economy by inducing people to spend. I would think the FEDs would love spam. ; )

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Mar 18th, 2008 @ 9:55am

    Reasolns for uptick in spam

    There are several that we know about and quite likely others that we don't. Two notable ones among the former (a) spammers are in the process of upgrading the malware on their botnets and (b) spammers have largely defeated captchas.

    The upgraded software (point a) appears to queue and retry, thus partially defeating some forms of greylisting. It also seems to be capable of trying all MXs for a domain, thus rendering the various MX weight/response tricks that some people have used moot. This upgrade has been expected for some time; my guess is that it finally became worth the effort and so now it's being rolled out.

    The defeat of captchas (point b) was inevitable and clearly foreseen years ago -- which is why some of us advised not even bothering with them at all. Those sites which made them a linchpin of their anti-spam strategy are being hit particularly hard: for example, multiple observers have reported large increases in spam outbound from Yahoo and Hotmail.

    There is no relief for any of this, since the one measure that actually been proven to decrease spam (blacklisting) is the one measure that many are reluctant to use. Until that reluctance dissipates, the problem will continue to get worse, no matter what else is done on the technical or legal fronts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Bill Brown, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Spam score: Feds-0, Spammers-3(+)*10^9/day

    I have on my aol

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Web Host Jeff, Mar 28th, 2008 @ 6:30am

    Google this...Not enough rage about spam

    I read these comments and shake my head. The problem is far worse than a simple annoyance in your gmail account. It is altering the way we do business in the world and literally jeopardizing what has become the greatest communication tool since speech was first created. There is a tremendous cost to companies and the overall economy combatting spam and trying to develop systems that allow for continued use of the web like it might be used.

    What about the army of dolts that actually respond to spam? While most might not care about what happens to them, they need and deserve to be protected. Would you deny them justice if they are robbed for being too stupid to lock their doors and windows at night? What about you? Yes, you! How will you respond when someone uses your email address to send thousands of email? Did you ever consider that your email address might be added to junk mail filters preventing you from receiving any email, good or bad? It happens everyday to one of my's real and trust me, you'll be pissed when it happens. When you suggest that "google better do something about all the spam" all they can do is add email addresses to their filters...might be yours they are adding.

    You folks need to be more outraged and begin to speak up about's a major problem that is making a huge negative difference in your lives. BTW, what they should do with convicted spammers is use them to help defeat the problem. Then...dengue fever sounds good to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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