A Las Vegas man who named himself the ‘Spam King’ has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing about 500,000 Facebook accounts in order to send out 27 million spam messages over a three month period.
Sanford Wallace pled guilty to charges of fraud and criminal contempt, admitting that he used phishing emails to obtain Facebook users’ passwords and gain access to their accounts. He then sent out the unsolicited ads disguised as messages from friends of the victims between November 2008 and February 2009. He now faces up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for electronic mail fraud.
Wallace also admitted violating an existing court order banning him from accessing Facebook’s servers when he accessed his account on a Virgin Airways flight in 2009. He violated the order again in 2011 by maintaining a profile under the name ‘David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks,” according to an FBI press release.
Wallace and two other spammers were sued by Facebook in 2009 as the company attempted to crack down on the number of spam and phishing schemes taking place on the platform. After being told to pay Facebook $711 million in civil damages under anti-spam laws in October 2009, Wallace managed to avoid paying anything by filing for bankruptcy.
The Spam King was successfully annoying others long before the dawn of the digital age; in the early nineties, Wallace would spam people by sending them junk faxes. By the midpoint of the decade he had set up his Pennsylvania marketing company, Cyber Promotions, which went on to become one of the largest sources of unsolicited emails in the world.
Wallace embraced the ‘Spamford’ name given to him by his oppenents and even registered the domain Spamford.com, which resulted in the Hormel foods corporation sending him a letter objecting to the name as it used their Spam potted meat trademark.
Wallace was also sued by AOL and Concentric Network in 2006; he was ordered to pay $4.1 million in damages for infecting computers with spyware using smartBOT, another company he owned. In 2009, MySpace joined the list of companies to sue Wallace under the Can-Spam act, when the one-time social network giant successfully won a $234 million judgement against the Spam King.
Wallace will discover his fate on December 7th when he is sentenced by US District Judge Edward J. Davila in San Jose.