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Sanford Wallace Faces Justice for Facebook Spam

  |  August 5, 2011   |  Comments

'Spam King' allegedly sent unwanted messages to 500,000 users.

Self-proclaimed “Spam King” Sanford Wallace turned himself in to FBI agents on Friday, according to Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

According to an indictment against him, Wallace was wanted for sending spam messages to approximately 500,000 Facebook users from November 2008 to March 2009. His actions allegedly resulted in more than 27 million spam messages.  

Wallace, 43, also made his initial appearance in federal court on Friday.  According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, he was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond and ordered to obey all civil orders including not accessing MySpace or Facebook.  

Sam O'Rourke, Deputy General Counsel of Intellectual Property at Facebook, posted his reaction on the Facebook Blog.

In the most recent update to a post entitled, “The Fight Goes On,” O’Rourke writes, “We applaud the efforts of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI to bring spammers to justice and will continue to pursue and support both civil and criminal consequences for spammers and others who attempt to harm Facebook or the people who use our service.”

On July 6, a federal grand jury in San Jose, CA, indicted Wallace on multiple counts of fraud and related activity in connection with sending unwanted messages and Wall posts. Wallace was also charged with three counts of intentional damage to a protected computer and two counts of criminal contempt, according to the press release announcing his indictment.

On March 2, 2009, March 24, 2009 and Sept. 18, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, in the case of Facebook, Inc. v. Sanford Wallace, et al, ordered Wallace not to access Facebook’s network. The indictment alleges that in April 2009, Wallace violated the order by logging into his Facebook account while he was on a Virgin Airlines flight from Las Vegas to New York.  In addition, Wallace violated the order in January and February 2011 by maintaining a Facebook profile entitled “David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks,” the release says.

As O’Rourke notes, Wallace now faces jail time. According to the Justice Department, the maximum penalty for each count of fraud and related activity in connection with electronic mail is three years in prison and a fine of $250,000 and the maximum penalty for each count of intentional damage to a protected computer is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of criminal contempt is determined by the court. 

In October, the Facebook blog notes the company was awarded $711 million in damages against Wallace. While Facebook did not expect to receive the majority of the award, O’Rourke noted, “We hope that this will act as a continued deterrent against these criminals.”

In an update to the blog in March 2010, Facebook says the court issued a temporary restraining order against Wallace and two other spammers, Adam Arzoomanian and Scott Shaw, because they violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the California Anti-Phishing Act and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM).

In November 2009, Facebook says it received an $873 million judgment made against Adam Guerbuez and Atlantis Blue Capital for sending “sleazy messages” to people on Facebook. 

According to the press release, Wallace’s next scheduled appearance is August 22.



Lisa Lacy

In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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