No one likes receiving unwanted messages, and one man was responsible for sending 27 million of them to Facebook users.
Sanford Wallace, also known as “the Spam King” and “Spamford Wallace,” will be sentenced in December after pleading guilty to sending the astronomical amount of spam. He later admitted that he had accessed half a million Facebook accounts without permission between 2008-9, violating a court order.
Spamming from fax machines into the internet age
Before the internet came along, Wallace used fax machines to send junk messages, which was made illegal in 1991. Wallace seems to have a burning desire to send unwanted messages to people, and has faced lawsuits for a variety of illicit activities including email spamming, multiple-window launching spyware scams and MySpace scams.
The courts have fined Wallace more than $4 million so far, and Facebook won $711 million in damages as a result of a 2009 lawsuit. The social network never saw any of the money due to the fact that Wallace is bankrupt, but the judge did recommend that criminal charges be pursued against him.
Thanks to an FBI investigation, Wallace would soon face charges for electronic mail fraud, damage to protected computers and criminal contempt. Wallace pleaded guilty, and could now go to jail for up to three years as well as being landed with another $250,000 fine.
Wallace posted links using hacked Facebook accounts
The defendant collected login details for Facebook accounts using phishing messages. Once had had gained access to the accounts, Wallace used them to post links on users’ friends’ walls.
As the posts came from a supposedly trustworthy source, many users clicked on the links contained in them, which directed them to websites which paid Wallace for each visitor.
Sentencing will take place on December 7, and this time around it seems likely that Wallace will be severely punished. Although it seems likely that he will be sent to jail, Wallace has made a career from these kinds of scams and it would appear unlikely that we have heard the last of him.
Although cyber criminals have developed more sophisticated ways of profiting from internet users, spam and phishing messages are still surprisingly lucrative.