BEIJING, June 13 (Xinhuanet) -- On May 30, U.S.
Department of Justice agents arrested a man they called the Spam King and he was
arraigned in a Seattle courtroom on charges of mail fraud, fraud in connection
with electronic mail, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
The week after Richard Alan Soloway was
incarcerated, the flow of spam rose 8 percent.
Communications security firm Postini Inc. of San
Carlos, California, which publishes the number of spam it filters for its
clients on an ongoing basis, tallied 2.8 billion spams over the most recent
seven-day period, as opposed to 2.6 billion in the seven days previous to that
when the Spam King was still at large.
According to data tabulated by the London-based
Spamhaus Project, an international anti-spam organization, about 80 percent of
the world's spam is generated by about 130 separate spammers or gangs. Soloway
was on the list, but he was not in the Top 10, which consists of four Russians,
two Ukrainians, an Israeli, an Australian, an American, and a Hong Kong
So how much profit can there be in sending out
torrents of spam scams using misspelled words?
"The vast majority of recipients throw it away, but
spam is so cheap to send that the spammers can make money even with an
infinitesimally small response rate ¡ª maybe one in a million," John Levine of
Trumansburg, New York, co-author of "Fighting Spam for Dummies," told
LiveScience. "Soloway supported himself for years sending spam, and reportedly
made 700,000 U.S. dollars per year at it."
While e-mail does away with the expense of envelopes,
paper, and stamps, spammers also use other people's computers ¡ª infected
machines that spew out spam in the background, Levine explained. Doing so
multiplies the amount of spam they can send, to the point that they can
send millions of messages daily. The tactic also makes it harder to track the
original spammer down.
Some of the larger spammers listed by Spamhaus also
specialize in pump-and-dump schemes, where they send out spam touting a
little-known stock that they have bought. Almost invariably, enough recipients
buy it so that the price goes up, allowing the spammer to sell at a profit.