Spam Lives On Following Arrest of ‘Spam King’
June 11, 2007 Alex Woodie
Spam was supposed to decrease in the wake of the arrest of the so-called “spam king,” Robert Soloway, last week. Instead, unsolicited e-mail continues to fill people’s inboxes at pretty much the same rate as before, highlighting the difficulty in fighting the scourge of the Internet in a massively distributed world.
Soloway was arrested by U.S. Attorneys based in Seattle, Washington, two weeks ago following his indictment by a federal grand jury. The arrest of the 27-year-old was a long time in coming, as he had been identified several years ago as the source of e-mails baring fraudulent headers that suggested the spam originated from Microsoft‘s MSN and Hotmail e-mail accounts. Microsoft won a $7 million judgment against him in 2005.
That same year, an Oklahoma man won a $10 million judgment against Soloway. But Soloway kept cranking out the spam for his clients, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, which detailed some of the techniques that Soloway used to mask his activities, including moving his operations from host to host, registering his company with a Chinese ISP, and using other people’s credit cards to pay for the hosting of his firm’s Web site.
While the case against Soloway has yet to go to trial, many in the mainstream media had already concluded his arrest should precipitate a reduction in the volume of span. Not so, apparently.
According to MessageLabs, which tracks huge numbers of e-mail messages for malware and content, the spam rate has increased slightly from about 44 percent in May to almost 48 percent over the first few days of June. If anything, Soloway’s spam brethren around the world have stepped up the pace to fill the void left by the Spam King’s incarceration.
However, long-term spam statistics from MessageLabs do seem to indicate a downward trend for spam, which is good news for e-mail users. According to the company, spam rates peaked in October at about 67 percent and have slowly decreased since then.