Spam king Sanford Wallace indicted for Facebook spam

Prosecutors say he hacked 500,000 accounts to send 27 million messages

Notorious spam king Sanford Wallace is facing federal fraud charges for allegedly breaking into Facebook accounts and sending 27 million spam messages in 2008 and 2009.

Wallace, 43, allegedly used a phishing attack to steal usernames and passwords from victims and then used the stolen credentials to post spam to victims walls, the U.S. Department of Justice said. Wallace allegedly made money from the scam by driving Web traffic to affiliate marketing companies, who pay their members by the number of clicks they can deliver to websites.

The charges are outlined in an indictment, filed July 6 but made public Thursday after Wallace turned himself in to federal authorities.

Wallace gained fame as one of spam's most vocal defenders back in the 1990s and he has faced numerous civil actions over his activities, including lawsuits from MySpace and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

However this is the first time he's facing criminal charges.

Wallace has also been sued by Facebook, which won a US$711 million civil judgement against him. As part of that judgement, he was banned from Facebook, and the criminal indictment accuses Wallace of contempt of court for allegedly logging onto the social network during an April 2009 Virgin Airlines flight from Las Vegas to New York. Wallace also allegedly set up a Facebook profile in January of this year under the user name David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks.

"We applaud the efforts of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI to bring spammers to justice," Facebook said in an e-mailed statement. "Now Wallace also faces serious jail time for this illegal conduct. We will continue to pursue and support both civil and criminal consequences for spammers or others who attempt to harm Facebook or the people who use our service."

Wallace could get more than 16 years in prison, if convicted.

He was released Thursday on a $100,000 bond. His next appearance is set for Aug. 22 at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, California.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securitycybercrimeinternetFacebooklegalsocial networkingInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?