Sanford Wallace has been using spam to harass people on the early days of Internet. He could have bothered you at and any time over 20 odd years as he’s possibly been sending spam before you started using the Internet. He won’t be for some time as he’s just been sentenced to 30 months in prison. The self-proclaimed “Spam King” will serve time for a Facebook attack that occurred between 2008 and 2009.
“Spam King” started with fax machines
Sanford Wallace started his famous spam attacks with email faxes in the 1980s and largely stopped when the practice was outlawed in 1991.
After finishing that practice, he set his sights on early ISPs Compuserve, and America Online. You’re surely forgiven if you don’t remember Compuserve or the noises that generally came with signing on to the ISP with a dial-up connection. It’s rumored that America Online still exists, but I have my doubts. Following his pelleting of those two services with spam emails he was sued by each.
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That’s when MySpace came around, well ahead of it being crushed and effectively replaced by Facebook, but Wallace was one of the first to blanket MySpace users with junk/spam emails and continue being a nuisance simply on a new platform.
And then along came Facebook and it became Wallace’s immediate obsession and new target.
Between 2008 and 2009, Wallace used one of the over 1,500 websites he owned to blast people with external links then stole their Facebook logins and got a hold of their friend lists. He then simply repeated that until he had finally sent around 27 million spam messages on Facebook, mostly through PM.
Facebook sued him and in 2015, Wallace pleaded guilty to a single count of fraud and one of criminal contempt after he was barred by a judge from using Facebook based on his activity of MySpace on other sites.
Wallace gets off easy?
In theory, Wallace could have seen much longer in prison as his maximum sentence could have been 16 years and over $1 billion in restitution and fines. Neither the judge nor the prosecutors had any intention of taking it that far, but clearly wanted his relentless spamming to be punished.
“The defendant’s history demonstrates that he has yet to suffer a consequence — other than a default judgment that cannot be collected — for his spamming activities,” wrote prosecutors ahead of sentencing. “A sentence of 36 months’ imprisonment will impress upon the defendant the seriousness of his actions and deter him from engaging in similar conduct again.”
In addition to the 36 months and calls for restitution, Wallace will also receive five years of probation and one can only assume that he won’t serve the full 30 months and will be let out early for “good behavior” from what has to be a considerably less than a maximum security prison. One can only assume he won’t have access to the internet in prison, or if he does, good behavior might be more difficult for him.
He seems to have a problem with spamming and as a result the judge also ordered him to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
While spamming attacks of the scope run by Wallace are trending downward in recent years, it’s still a pain in the ass. I’m not sure I need him to see prison time for it but judge’s have a tendency to react strongly when you’ve already been told not to do it again in an anterior court ruling.