SEATTLE SPAMMER SENTENCED TO FORTY-SEVEN MONTHS IN PRISON FOR MAIL FRAUD, SPAM AND TAX CHARGES
Man Sold Spamming Software and Spamming Services Impacting Millions of Computers
ROBERT ALAN SOLOWAY, 29, the owner of NEWPORT INTERNET MARKETING CORPORATION of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to forty-seven months in prison and three years of supervised release for Mail Fraud, Fraud in Connection with Electronic Mail, and Willful Failure to File a Tax Return. In addition, he was directed to perform 200 hours of community service. At a later hearing, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman will determine the total amount of restitution SOLOWAY owes to the victims of his spamming.
SOLOWAY was indicted in May 2007, and pleaded guilty March 14, 2008. SOLOWAY was dubbed the “Spam King” by investigators, because of his prolific and prolonged spamming. In her sentencing memo Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma wrote SOLOWAY stands out as a spammer because “he is known world-wide for the volume and markedly malicious nature of his criminal spamming activity, the fraudulent “spam promotion” sales scheme associated with it and for brazen and even boastful claims that he is above the law and anyone – including federal judges – who would dare attempt to seek his compliance with it.”
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 criminal “spam” i.e. bulk high volume commercial email messages that contained false and forged headers and that were relayed using networks of proxy (“botnet”) computers. 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 his 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.
Over a three day sentencing hearing, prosecutors presented evidence from individuals who had been harmed or defrauded by SOLOWAY’s spamming activities. One, a small business owner from Florida, said he had tried emailing, calling on the phone and even sending a friend to SOLOWAY’s apartment building to get the spam to stop. David Reel said the spam only got worse after his attempts to stop it. Reel said the unwanted email barrage only stopped when SOLOWAY was arrested.
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.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.