Newport Internet Marketing Corp. CEO Robert Alan Soloway was arrested Wednesday for allegedly using zombie computers to send out millions of spam e-mails.
Mr. Soloway was indicted on thirty five counts by a federal grand jury for mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Soloway pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon to all charges.
“The arrest is a good thing but it will do very little to change the overall volume of spam that people are seeing,” said Rand Wacker , senior product manager at anti-spam vendor IronPort. “The spamming community is huge – worldwide – and uses a vast number of resources such as botnets, compromised home computers, to get their messages out. We see larger drop-offs in spam when macro-level events happen, such as the earthquake off Taiwan last year that disabled several Internet links to mainland China, where many botnet systems are located.”
Authorities began to investigate Mr. Soloway after they received hundreds of complaints about his practices. Mr. Soloway was blacklisted by anti-spam firm The Spamhaus Project.
Allegedly, Mr. Soloway used networks of zombie computers to send out unsolicited bulk e-mails about promoting his Internet marketing company Newport Internet Marketing Corp. The e-mail had a link that called recipients to click through to his Web site. On the site, Mr. Soloway advertised the ability to send out as many as 20 million e-mail advertisements over 15 days for $495, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors are seeking to have Mr. Soloway pay the $773,000 they claim he made from his business.
In 2005, Microsoft won a $7 million civil judgment against him, and the operator of a small Internet service provider in Oklahoma won a $10 million judgment against the accused.
Mr. Soloway remained in federal detention pending a hearing Monday.
“Legitimate marketers are reminded to be very sure of the processes that are used to send out their messages and the policies they use to manage their recipient lists,” Mr. Wacker said. “Soloway was a subcontractor who offered companies the service of sending out huge numbers of messages for them but Soloway used illicit resources such as the Dark Mailer spam software that uses botnets to send messages, as well as maintaining a list of recipients that ignored CAN-SPAM rules.
“Legitimate marketers,” he added, “are reminded to work with legitimate e-mail providers and be very rigorous in managing their subscriber lists.”