One 'Spam King' Faces 4 Years In Prison, One Escapes

Robert Alan Soloway, also known as the "spam king," was sentenced to almost four years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges of mail fraud, e-mail fraud and tax evasion.

Investigators consider Soloway, 28, one of the country's most prolific spammers. According to court records, Soloway used networks of proxy computers, including botnets, to send more than 90 million spam messages in three months. His illegal spam messages advertised "broadcast e-mail" services and products for his Seattle-based business, the Newport Internet Marketing Corp., and contained false and forged headers, which directly violated the 2003 CAN SPAM Act.

Included in the fraudulent spam messages were claims that the e-mail addresses used for the advertised products and services were "opt-in" addresses. The Web site also touted a satisfaction guarantee with a full refund. However, customers who later complained about the products they ordered from Soloway's site were subsequently threatened with additional fees and collection agency referrals.

In March, Soloway pled guilty to charges of mail fraud, fraud in connection with electronic mail and failure to file a tax return. He also admitted to earning more than $309,000 for his spam-related activities in 2005 -- a year in which he did not file a tax return.

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Soloway was indicted in May. During his sentencing trial Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman sentenced him to 47 months in prison, and ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service.

Meanwhile, a U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday that the FBI and IRS are currently on the lookout for spammer Edward Davidson, 35, who escaped from a minimum security prison camp in Florence, Colo., on Sunday. U.S. Marshals are leading the search for Davidson, who is officially in "escape" status. The search efforts are assisted by the FBI, IRS and the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force.

Davidson, also dubbed a "spam king," was sentenced in April to 21 months in a minimum security federal prison camp for sending hundreds of thousands of unsolicited commercial spam messages for his Colorado-based business Power Promoters. Davidson's spamming services were provided on behalf of companies promoting watches, perfume and other products. Between 2005 and 2006, Davidson also sent spam messages that promoted "penny stocks" on the public market with false headers, which concealed the sender from the recipients.

Davidson conducted his spamming activities from his personal residence in Bennett, Colo., where he used a network of computers and servers to facilitate his business.

Soloway and Davidson are just two of a handful of spammers who have recently been convicted for conducting fraudulent e-mail activity in violation of the 2003 CAN SPAM Act. In June, Scott Richter was ordered to pay $6 million in damages after being found guilty of spamming MySpace users with unwanted e-mails.

Earlier this year, Jeremy Jaynes was sentenced to nine years in prison by the Virginia Supreme Court for illegal spamming activities. In November 2007, Todd Moeller, 28, was sentenced to 27 months in prison for sending more than 1.2 million spam messages that flooded the inboxes of AOL customers while his partner, Adam Vitale, was later sentenced to 30 months in prison in July.