Arrestato nel maggio 2007, Soloway, proprietario di una societa' di marketing a Seattle, nello stato di Washington, nel nord ovest degli Usa, ha concluso un accordo con la procura per evitare il processo in cambio della sua ammissione di colpevolezza.
Le autorita' giudiziarie del Colorado hanno invece annunciato l'evasione di un altro 're degli spammer', Edward Davidson, 35 anni, dileguatosi domenica scorsa dal carcere di Florence, 50 km a sud di Denver. Davidson stava scontando dallo scorso maggio una condanna a 21 mesi, dopo essersi riconosciuto colpevole davanti a giudici federali di aver inviato tra il 2002 e il 2006 centinaia di migliaia di messaggi-spazzatura.
Who is Soloway (source Wikipedia, immagine: "Robert Alan Soloway appears in this court sketch, Thursday, May 31, 2007", in ctv.ca)
Soloway is charged with using hijacked zombie computers and spoofing to send out millions of spam e-mails since 2003. Some e-mails sent by Soloway's company contained false header information making them appear to have been sent from MSN and Hotmail addresses. As a result of this he was sued by Microsoft and ordered to pay $7 million in damages in December 2003. He also was sued by a small Oklahoma company and was ordered to pay $10 million in damages.
However, an injunction to cease his activities did not stop him from spamming: Soloway's company was responsible, from around June 2004 until April 2005, for a spam campaign (sent from open proxy) on behalf of various websites including broadcastingtoday.biz and broadcastadvertise.org (all since suspended), which promised to send recipients' Web site addresses to several million "opt-in email addresses." He later claimed that as the service was free, the campaign was not illegal under the anti-spam law CAN-SPAM. A disclaimer in the spams stated, "the above emailing is only free if you are a nonprofit organization that aids child abuse victims."
Soloway insisted that NIM removed all MSN and Hotmail addresses from his mailing lists. He asserted that it was his company's subcontractors, or "spam affiliates," who had carried out the illegal activity (though he remained liable under both state and federal laws, including Washington's Commercial Electronic Mail Act and CAN-SPAM). He insisted he had fired all his subcontractors (none of whom he named) and had himself taken charge of emailing, using spam program Dark Mailer. However, a Washington superior court judge ruled that Soloway was in default.
Soloway is presently awaiting sentence, having pled guilty to three counts on 14 March 2008. He formerly operated a company based in Seattle, Washington which he is calling "Broadcast E-mail Service" that offers "mailing services" by contract as well as a software program which the site promises will allow the buyer to "email your Web site to 2,500,000 opt-in email addresses for free." E-mails advertising Soloway's company have been sent with forged headers (the headers purport to be "from" the person they were sent "to").
Soloway reportedly switched IP addresses for his Web sites to avoid detection. In 2006 he registered them through Chinese internet service providers (ISP) in an apparent ploy to mask his involvement.
The Seattle Times
Robert Soloway, crowned the "spam king" by federal prosecutors for having sent millions of unwanted e-mails around the globe, pleaded guilty Friday to felony mail fraud, fraud in connection with electronic mail and failing to file a tax return in 2005, the year he made at least $300,000 through his junk e-mail business.
Soloway appeared at a hastily scheduled hearing in U.S. District Court in Seattle, where he was set to go to trial in two weeks on a 40-count indictment that included seven counts of aggravated identity theft — which carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence added on to any other sentence — and 13 counts of money laundering.
However, federal prosecutors dropped all of those charges — some of which had been filed under an admittedly "novel" reading of the identity-theft statute — and all but one of the spam-related charges in exchange for Soloway's guilty pleas. Indeed, the most serious charge Soloway now faces deals not with spam but with nonelectronic mail fraud stemming from his failure to live up to promises he made regarding his e-mail-marketing software.
That charge carries up to a 20-year prison sentence. The electronic-mail fraud charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. The tax charge is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum one-year sentence.
The law also allows for fines against Soloway and his business of up to $625,000 on all charges. Both sides agreed to let U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman determine not just the amount of prison time Soloway, 28, might serve but also the number of his victims, the size of any fine and the amount of restitution he may be ordered to pay.
"We believe that there were extensive losses to thousands of victims," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Warma.
Richard Troberman, Soloway's attorney, said the government's decision to dismiss 37 counts — including all of the identity-theft cases — demonstrates that the case "turned out to be very different from was originally charged."
"We feel that when it comes time for sentencing, we like our chances," he said.
Federal prosecutors accused Soloway of defrauding customers who paid him to send out high volumes of commercial e-mail or who bought his software to send spam themselves. For $495, customers reportedly could have Soloway send e-mails to 20 million addresses for 15 days or sell them 80,000 e-mail addresses.
Troberman said early reports that Soloway was responsible for sending penis-enhancement ads and pornography proved untrue after the government was able to examine the servers used by Soloway's company, Newport Internet Marketing, also known as NIM.
Warma said the government still believes Soloway is responsible for some of those acts, and intends to present evidence of them to Pechman during Soloway's June 20 sentencing.
One thing is clear from the plea agreement: Soloway does not have a lot of assets for the government to seize. Among the items Pechman will be asked to consider for forfeiture are Soloway's collection of 24 pairs of sunglasses, valued at more than $3,700; 27 pairs of shoes, worth more than $7,400; and clothing worth about $14,200.
Much was made when Soloway was arrested of the fact that he lived in a 17th-floor apartment near the Seattle waterfront and drove a Mercedes-Benz. Both, Troberman said, were leased.
"The fact of the matter is, he's broke," said Troberman, pointing out that Soloway is named in a default judgment of more than $10 million in Oklahoma and owes another judgment to Microsoft.
(Fonte: Carter, The Seattle Times)