ROBERT ALAN SOLOWAY, 28, the owner of NEWPORT INTERNET MARKETING CORPORATION of Seattle, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Mail Fraud, Fraud in Connection with Electronic Mail, and Willful Failure to File a Tax Return. SOLOWAY was indicted in May 2007. SOLOWAY, dubbed the "Spam King" by investigators will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman on June 20, 2008.
According to records filed in the case, between November 2003, and May 2007, SOLOWAY operated NEWPORT INTERNET MARKETING CORPORATION (NIM) which offered a "broadcast email" software product and "broadcast email" services. These products and services constituted "spam" i.e. bulk high volume commercial email messages that contained false and forged headers and that were relayed using networks of proxy computers (including "botnets"). SOLOWAY and NIM made a number of false and fraudulent claims about the products and services on their website. Among them was a claim that the e-mail addresses used for the product and services were "opt-in" email addresses. The website promised a satisfaction guarantee with a full refund to customers who purchased the broadcast email product. However, customers who later complained about the goods and services they had purchased, or who asked for refunds, were threatened with additional financial charges and referral to a collection agency.
SOLOWAY spammed tens of millions of email messages to advertise the NIM websites from which he sold his product and services. Soloway constantly "moved" this website, which was hosted on at least 50 different domains. In the plea agreement, SOLOWAY further admits that in tax year 2005 he earned $309,725 in gross revenue, but failed to file an income tax return.
Mail Fraud is punishable by up to twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Fraud in Connection with Electronic Mail is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Willful Failure to File Tax Returns in punishable by up to a year in prison and a $25,000 fine.
At the time of sentencing Judge Pechman will determine the loss amount and the amount of restitution, and the items to be forfeited to the government as proceeds of crime. SOLOWAY agrees in his plea agreement to submit to a polygraph examination regarding his assets.
The case was investigated by the FBI, US Postal Inspection Service and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) in conjunction with the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma.