'Buffalo Spammer' Busted

Howard Carmack, aka the “Buffalo Spammer,” was arrested on four felony and two misdemeanor counts yesterday.

Carmack's arrest, the first under New York's recently enacted identity theft statute, stems from charges that he stole people's identities to open fraudulent Internet access accounts used to send hundreds of millions of spam e-mails since March 2002.

“This defendant stole the identities of innocent New Yorkers to spam millions of consumers throughout New York and the nation,” state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said in a statement.

The defendant entered not-guilty pleas before Buffalo City Court Judge Diane Devlin. Bail was set at $20,000. His next court date is May 19.

In January, Spitzer's office successfully prosecuted defunct e-mail marketing firm MonsterHut Inc., formerly of Niagara Falls, NY.

News of Carmack's arrest comes one week after Internet service provider EarthLink won a $16.4 million judgment against him in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

It also comes as anti-spam legislation is working through both houses of Congress and some states, in addition to the 29 states that already have spam laws.

According to EarthLink, Carmack used 343 stolen identities to sign up for e-mail accounts through which he sent about 825 million spam e-mails pitching spamming software, herbal sexual stimulants and bulk e-mail lists. The ISP claims that Carmack repeatedly opened e-mail accounts with EarthLink using personal information from Buffalo-area residents.

Carmack used software to mask the identity of the account from which the e-mail was sent, and sent his spam with the forged e-mail address attached, according to Spitzer's office.

Carmack's charges include second-degree forgery, a class D felony; criminal possession of a forgery device, a class D felony; two counts of first-degree falsifying business records, a class E felony; and two counts of third-degree identity theft; a class A misdemeanor. The top forgery charge carries a maximum sentence of 3 1/2 to seven years in prison.

The attorney general's Internet Bureau claims it receives more complaints about spam than any Internet-related issue.

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