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Risk

5/31/2007
07:49 PM
Michael Singer
Michael Singer
Commentary
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Why Catching The 'Spam King' Won't Save Your In-Box

Even if a judge and jury lock up Robert Alan Soloway for the rest of his natural born life, your in-box will still be inundated with tons of offers for HGH, porn, and penny stocks.

Even if a judge and jury lock up Robert Alan Soloway for the rest of his natural born life, your in-box will still be inundated with tons of offers for HGH, porn, and penny stocks.Government prosecutors are surely chomping at the chance to present evidence against Soloway. The so-called Spam King (perhaps we should call him Spam Solo?) is accused of identity theft, mail fraud, wire fraud, fraud in connection with electronic mail, and money laundering.

Sharon Gaudin's interview with Craig Sprosts of IronPort tells the true tale. Even though the government is bringing him to justice, there are more people like Soloway waiting in the wings.

"Sprosts said in an interview that in the last few days the amount of spam dropped 8%, which is equal to 6 billion messages. The issue, though, is that the numbers dropped from 80 billion to 74 billion, leaving levels not so far below their historic level of 80 billion."

So this is like the famed Hydra of Greek myth. Cut one head off and several more appear.

Oh well, so much for eliminating all spam or phishing.

Still, I pity the poor public defender on this case. His or her defendant has a bigger and badder reputation in tech circles than Kevin Mitnick and a knack for phrasing things to get you to buy in (or perhaps click through) to his message.

Oh, to be a fly on that wall in that first meeting:

Soloway: I didn't do it, I tell ya. They can't pin all of those e-mails on just one guy, ya know. Someone has got it out for me and my family. These coppers have nothing on me.

Attorney: Alright, Mr. Soloway. Please settle down. Let's go over your story one more time.

Soloway: So I was sitting in front of my computer, see ... when I get this chain letter in my e-mail in-box explaining that I can gather all the wealth and inner peace in the world if only I can forward this message to 10 people that I know in the next five minutes. I'm not usually a superstitious man, but it looked to me like the real deal.

Attorney: So you're saying that you were compelled to forward e-mails to people because you were seeking wealth and inner peace?

Soloway: Absolutely...

Attorney: So why did you send so many messages to so many people for several years?

Soloway: I have a lot of friends? I sent a few (coughs) million to you over the past few years. Didn't you get them?

Attorney: As a matter of fact, I did. (pause) But Mr. Soloway, some of these e-mails had nothing to do with wealth or inner peace. Some were blatant attempts to harvest people's passwords, account numbers, and mothers' maiden names. The government even claims it has messages that you and your company sent that pertain to buying cheap drugs from overseas and others that contained embedded Trojan horses or links to computer viruses.

Soloway: At least I never claimed to be the son of a top Nigerian government official. Come to think of it, there sure seems to be a lot of those poor suffering people in the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone as well. I wonder if the nice people in my Contact list would be interested in helping.

Attorney: Uhhgg.

Anyhow, you get the picture. So taking down the most notorious name in e-mail fraud will only get you more flunkies lining up to take his place.

I can't wait to see who the government brings forward to testify on the witness stand.

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