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Facebook Spam Crime Security The Courts IT

Spam King Wallace Indicted For Facebook Spam 93

itwbennett writes "Notorious spam king Sanford Wallace is facing federal fraud charges for allegedly breaking into the Facebook accounts of 500,000 victims in 2008 and 2009 and using the stolen credentials to post 27 million spam messages. The charges are outlined in an indictment, filed July 6 but made public Thursday after Wallace turned himself in to federal authorities. If convicted, Wallace could get more than 16 years in prison."
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Spam King Wallace Indicted For Facebook Spam

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't that asshole dead yet?

  • Still? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday August 05, 2011 @08:15AM (#36995508) Homepage Journal

    I thought Spamford had turned over a new leaf? Giving interviews, promising no more spam.

    Good heavens. A spammer lied to us.

    • This isn't spam (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Here's his business model:

      Wallace, 43, allegedly used a phishing attack to steal usernames and passwords from victims and then used the stolen credentials to post spam to victims walls, the U.S. Department of Justice said. Wallace allegedly made money from the scam by driving Web traffic to affiliate marketing companies, who pay their members by the number of clicks they can deliver to websites.

      So, he basically posed as other people, and those people's friends click on those links put there by Wallace thinking their friends put them there, and then Wallace gets paid.

      The other thing is the people "advertising" were doing business with Wallace. They didn't check him out with a simple google search? Or did they know and not give a shit because they're that desperate for traffic?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This: not give a shit because they're that desperate for traffic

        I have done work for a multi-level marketing company and I can tell you they were desperate enough for traffic that they paid a couple of other companies to send traffic to them.

      • He's sending unwanted messages to people with whom he has no business relationship in order to collect money from people paying for eyeballs. How is that not spam?

      • They should RICO all the associated involved. The a-hole is only successful because of the other greedy people that salivate at his services.
    • The Rules of Spam (Score:4, Informative)

      by Eggplant62 ( 120514 ) on Friday August 05, 2011 @09:09AM (#36995856)
      From Bruce Pennypacker's Rules of Spam Post [] on his personal blog:

      Rule 0: Spam is theft

      Rule 1: Spammers lie.

      Rule 2: When in doubt about spammers lying, see rule 1.

      Rule #3: Spammers are stupid.

      Rule #4: The natural course of a spamming business is to go bankrupt.

      Time and again, these simple rules have proven themselves. Too many fallen spam kings, too many spam kings sitting in jail or just plain bankrupt.

  • Accessing half a million facebook accounts must have subjected him to more torment than I could bear.

    • Um. Yeah, having a script log into 500,000 accounts and post a message must have been a hellish ordeal for him..

  • At first, I started to read this as an imperative sentence telling me to spam King Wallace. I must say I was disappointed when I got to 'indicted.'
    • I read your title as an imperative to read it in a certain way, vice the past tense of read. I must say I was disappointed when I read your post.
  • by rbrausse ( 1319883 ) on Friday August 05, 2011 @08:16AM (#36995516)

    Wallace, the guy with a $5M fine in 2006... something's rotten with the legislation/judicature if he is able to ignore the penalties

  • Is he never going to learn the difference between right/wrong?

    Throw him in jail and fill the door lock with epoxy resin.

    • How about instead just give all of the other inmates some V1aGra, or other pills to enlarge their member.
    • There is a difference between knowing what is right and what is wrong, and actually caring about what is right and what is wrong. You would think a would lead to b. But, for some people a is just a tool for telling people it's raining while they piss on them and b is for losers and stupid people. I cannot say this is the case in this case. But, it sure reminds me of it.

    • What ever happened to good old fashioned public execution ? This guy has a white-crime rap sheet longer than most wall street traders.

      Just off him already. Maybe that will scare some of the other spammers away.

  • ...of manually filtering out spammy emails from non-spammy ones. It'll be like community service. Sure it won't do much in practice but it'll teach him how the rest of us feel when some new spam gets through the filter.

  • by Arrogant-Bastard ( 141720 ) on Friday August 05, 2011 @08:37AM (#36995652)
    ...there is no such thing as an ex-spammer. Nobody, NOBODY, can produce a living example of one (either individual or corporate). Oh, they sometimes take a hiatus; they sometimes disappear and come back under another name; they sometimes switch tactics, strategy or modality; and they often claim that really, this time for sure, they've stopped...bu they never do.

    And this in turn why blacklist entries associated with these individuals and corporations should be permanent. It's kind and noble of people to try to forgive them, to give them yet another another another chance; but it's extremely naive and stupid.

  • by kaptink ( 699820 ) on Friday August 05, 2011 @08:38AM (#36995658) Homepage

    I think he may be in for an ass kicking -

    "Wallace has also been sued by Facebook, which won a $711 million civil judgement against him. As part of that judgement, he was banned from Facebook, and the criminal indictment accuses Wallace of contempt of court for allegedly logging onto the social network during an April 2009 Virgin Airlines flight from Las Vegas to New York. Wallace also allegedly set up a Facebook profile in January of this year under the user name David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks."

    Either way he should be banned forever from the interwebs for all our sakes. If ever there was a case to throw the book at someone, this would be it.

    • by pz ( 113803 )

      How did this guy afford a plane ticket *anywhere* with a fine that large levied against him?

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        Big fines pretty-much destroy the ability for somebody to live a normal life (raise kids, pay for their college, etc). However, they have little impact on the ability of somebody to be a scumbag since there a man with no dependents can easily hide assets, not own anything like a house that is easy to sieze, use exceptions in laws to allow people to pay for living expenses, and so on.

        If I got hit with a $711 million fine it would ruin my life. But, if I decided to become a scumbag and just abandon my famil

    • I think he may be in for an ass kicking

      I settle for ass-pounding in prison.

  • ... was negligible at best. Throwing spammers in jail doesn't solve the spam problem. While I support seeing something done, we need to be careful not to go patting ourselves on the back whenever we punish a spammer.

    And no, murdering them won't help, either. Plenty of people voice support for murdering (or executing) spammers but that won't help the case. We've seen spammers murdered in Russia and that didn't make a difference; indeed some spammers even moved to Russia to fill the void.

    Until we actu
    • And no, murdering them won't help, either.... Until we actually go after the root economic problem behind spam, we won't see a real change in the matter. Spam is an economic problem, and requires an economic solution.

      The root economic problem is that there's a demand for spammed products, and thus money flowing to people who supply those demands.

      So we should compromise between murder and economics. We should take his customer list, and mail everyone on it a free sample packets of cyanide labeled "ur fr

    • by bberens ( 965711 )
      Part of the process of throwing spammers in jail involves tracking down and stopping the bot nets they use for spamming purposes. Killing the bot nets has definitely proven to reduce spam. Often practically overnight.
      • Killing the bot nets has definitely proven to reduce spam

        Except it is temporary. Kill one botnet and another pops up. We find that there is less time now between the collapse of one botnet and the emergence of another. Killing one botnet is just a band-aid on a gushing head wound.

    • And no, [executing] them won't help, either.

      I'm willing to give it a go.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      So, the whole point of punishing criminals is to deter crime.

      I could make a lot of money if I robbed a bank. However, most likely I'd end up in prison. So, why take the chance?

      If we didn't punish bank robbers because people still rob banks, then now I have no incentive to not give it a try myself.

      Now, I agree that this doesn't work perfectly, and some nutcases will be criminals no matter how little sense it makes. However, it isn't like every civilization in history invented a criminal justice system of

      • So, the whole point of punishing criminals is to deter crime.

        Sure, but not every country considers spam to be a crime. After all, we aren't talking about murder here. All a spammer has to do is live in a country where spam is not outlawed, and they can spam all they want. It doesn't matter if their spam is going to people in countries where it is illegal, or if it is going through computers in those countries, as long as the spammer lives someplace where spam is not illegal, they will be fine.

    • Your post advocates a

      ( ) technical ( ) legislative (X) market-based ( ) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

      (To finish the form, I would need to know what economic solution you are proposing.)
    • The hosting companies, ISPs, credit card processors and banks that make it possible to actually make money off of spam.

      Sure, some of it is purely criminal -- viruses, malware, etc. But that's more easily filtered and is something of a seperate problem.

      The problem with just going after the "spammer" is that the life support system that makes it possible to be a spammer and actually make money off it stays intact and they just become the vendor to the next douche-bag spammer.

      A RICO prosecution targeting ever

      • You have the idea much more so than most around here - or at least most that reply to my comments about the economic roots of spam.

        In fact you are so close to what I have been saying for some time I should warn you someone may come and accuse you of being a sock puppet to me.

        A RICO prosecution targeting everyone involved would be highly beneficial. Even if the above accessories to spam weren't actually prosecuted, an FBI investigation involving grand juries, subpoenas and a host of negative publicity might have a deterrent effect on its own, discouraging those businesses from dabbling in spam businesses.

        That is pretty close to what I have been advocating, although I wouldn't often bother with the FBI or any other particular agency of a single nation. After all, most spam is international in nature; including ISPs, registrars, web

  • ...but what part of what he did was illegal?

    Wallace, 43, allegedly used a phishing attack to steal usernames and passwords from victims and then used the stolen credentials to post spam to victims walls

    So people were stupid and fell for this crap, that sucks and all, but i get emails every day about how I won a lottery overseas or how there's some princess in another castle.
    I use half a brain cell and ignore them, so again I ask, what law is in place that makes tricking people illegal? I see CONgress doing that all the time...

    • The spam is a lesser issue here, the main legal issue as I see it is the violation of someone's privacy byh logging in to their account without their explicit permission. Unauthorized access... Kind of like cracking someone's email password, or encryption on an encrypted flash drive, or picking the lock on the door of their home (and placing flyers for the local car wash or pizzaria in every room). Illegal or a violation of their right to privacy, to the breaking and entering part... not so much the "Buy my
      • The issue I see is that the article mentions he used a phishing scam. So he didn't break in, per se, they stupidly invited him in while he placed the "flyers for the local car wash or pizzaria in every room."
        Unless I misunderstand what a phishing scam is, it was my thought that it is when someone asks you for your information, and if you're an idiot you give it to them.
        Also...right to privacy? Isn't...facebook by far the biggest offender to this?
        • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
          Phishing is more to do with impersonating a legitimate site. So you get an email that *looks* like it's from Facebook/Blizzard/whatever, and might say something about 'verifying your account' for some legitimate sounding reason (to the uninitiated anyway). The fake site collects your credentials for the real site. Someone who is familiar with phishing is unlikely to be fooled but many less wary people are taken in, as at a glance the sites can appear kosher. This is why 'blame the victim for being stupid' i
    • You posted the part that was illegal. He stole their credentials and used those credentials to log into their Facebook accounts and post spam to their walls. It is illegal to log on to someone's account without their permission.
      • Illegal? Against the TOS of the website maybe, so his ban from Facebook is justified.
        But point me to a single law that states that it's illegal to use or obtain the credentials of another person.
        So often I see users of this site confused "illegal" with "morally wrong".
        Also, unless my understanding of a phishing scam is incorrect, he didn't steal them, he tricked users into giving their info away.
        • The law he was violating is the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It does not matter how he got the credentials, unless the users actually and explicitly authorized him to log into their Facebook accounts to make these spam posts, he was violating the Act.
          Tricking someone into giving you something is stealing. If I convince you I am from the tax collector's office and get you to give me the money that you owe in taxes, it is theft even though you willingly gave me the money. The courts will not buy a d
    • by e3m4n ( 947977 )

      there are financial damages from spam. 1/3rd of my bandwidth as an ISP is email. If 50% of email is spam then I am paying for bandwidth at the 90% percentile accounting, based on a large chunk of it as unsolicited bulk mail. I should be able to make the spammer pay me for this but there is no way to do that. If 100Mbps of my bandwidth is spam, and that amounts to an extra $10k per month I have to pay for that bandwidth that we end up filtering from our customer in our spam filters, then shouldnt someone e

  • to whom can we make donations to ensure he is put in a cell with a extremely large (in both senses of the word), horny, sex offender? Death to all spammers!

  • As much as I hate spam, I have major problems with the guy going to jail for 16 years for sending emails that people don't want to receive. The penalty is way out of line with what he did.
    • OK. What about illegally accessing 500,000 Facebook accounts?

    • by Nimey ( 114278 )

      No, the guy's incorrigible and has been in legal trouble for spamming before.

      Plus, as mentioned, the illegal access of other peoples' accounts. I'm thinking a long jail term is indicated.

    • Fine, then give him 16 years for stealing login information and impersonating users to get around Facebook's anti-spam architecture. Works for me.

  • to a nicer guy...

    I suggest some western justice.

    Public stoning??

  • In the "cyberbullying" case when a girl committed suicide, EFF intervened on the bad woman's behalf, saying it would be a slippery slope to tyranny if federal law were used to make sites' Terms of Service enforceable by law. I disagreed then, but it will be even worse if EFF opposes this prosecution on the same grounds and defeats it. Forums need to be able to have rules and enforce them, or no one will have real freedom of speech except the spammers.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"