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‘Spam King’ Sanford Wallace admits to spamming 27 million Facebook accounts

Wed 26 Aug 2015

Sanford Wallace 'Spam King' in front of laptop

Sanford Wallace, otherwise known as the ‘Spam King’, has pleaded guilty to sending over 27 million spam messages through Facebook, despite being barred from accessing the social network.

The Las Vegas resident is now facing a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 (approx. £160,000) fine. This will be in addition to the approximate $4mn in penalties he has received over his career in criminal marketing practices.

Guilty of 11 charges including fraud and criminal contempt, Wallace’s strategy involved deceiving people into handing over their login credentials, which he then used to access millions of private accounts and send out spam messages to other users. One tactic Wallace confessed to was sending fake friend requests to Facebook users, which were in reality disguised ads.

According to a statement from the district attorney, Wallace admitted to misuse of electronic mail and said that he had knowingly violated internet laws.

The prosecution follows an FBI complaint filed against Wallace in 2011, in which he was accused of breaking into over 500,000 Facebook accounts in a five-month period between 2008 and 2009. The sentence is expected to be declared on the 2nd December.

Wallace began his questionable career in 1995 when he established Cyber Promotions – one of the biggest email marketing operators at the time. He would use false return addresses, open relays on poorly set up servers and multi-homing. ISP Earthlink sued Wallace for $2mn in 1997 for his spamming campaigns.

Since the late ‘90s, Wallace has also appeared in court for illegal advertising practices such as his involvement in a huge spyware ring and and spamming attacks across MySpace, which involved a $234mn settlement.

Following the Facebook hacks and related spamming, the social media giant successfully sued Wallace for damages in October 2009, receiving $711mn. He was subsequently banned from accessing the Facebook network.

Wallace declared bankruptcy in June 2009.


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