The Dethroned Spam King Returns to Society
For nearly 7 years, Robert Soloway was the scourge of the internet. Sending nearly 10 trillion spam emails to innocent inboxes all across the internet. In 2007 he was indicted, arrested and in 2008 plead guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and a host of other charges that landed him in jail, and the title Spam King by federal prosecutors.
He spent over three and half years in prison for his crimes. Sending out emails offering Viagra and shady business deals. He even sold his knowledge to others on how to send these emails as well. Soloway was recently released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, and has vowed that his spamming days are over.
“If I send out spam emails, that’s a violation of my probation. End of story,” Soloway said. And the government plans on holding him to it, as he has allowed probation officers to monitor every email he sends out and webpages he visits till 2014. “I’m being very careful. If I send out an email, I’m not even going probably to CC it. I’ll send a unique email to each person.”
At the height of his reign as Spam King, he was being constantly blocked by Spamhaus, an online service that maintains a black list that ISPs and individuals can use to help block known spam senders. There was even evidence that Soloway had contracted virus authors to write code and create networks of spam zombies to send his emails through. And he lived like royalty. Making at one point nearly $20,000 a day and spending it on Porsches and Mercedes as well as extravagant flings to Vegas.
But now, he says he’s sworn that life off. He’s said he wants to devote his life to teaching consumers and businesses on how to avoid the evils of spamming. “If you don’t know who you’re up against, like in any war, you don’t know what you’re facing.” He says he’s learned his lesson and knows his critics will remain skeptical. He went on to say that he doesn’t expect anyone to trust him till he starts to make good on his promise.
Kathryn Warma, an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle who convicted Soloway said “You always hope that people seek redemption,” she says. “If that has happened to him I think that’s great. But I’ll reserve judgment.”
Soloway is now living in Seattle in a modest studio apartment and works in a nearby print shop for $10 an hour.