Self-described "Spam King" Sanford Wallace is staring down four decades of prison time as part of a grand jury indictment on federal fraud charges.
The indictment was handed down on July 6, and alongside the electronic mail fraud allegations, Wallace is also being charged with "three counts of intentional damage to a protected computer and two counts of criminal contempt."
The AP reports:
The indictment filed in San Jose federal court said Wallace compromised about 500,000 Facebook accounts between November 2008 and March 2009 by sending massive amounts of spam through the company's servers on three separate occasions.
Wallace would collect Facebook user account information by sending "phishing" messages that tricked users of the social Relevant Products/Services networking site into providing their passwords, the indictment said.
He would then use that information to log into their accounts and post spam messages on their friends' Facebook walls, the indictment said. Those who clicked on the link, thinking it came from their friend, were redirected to Web sites that paid Wallace for the Internet traffic.
Wallace was sued by Facebook in 2009 for his annoying entrepreneurial efforts, and though a judge issued a restraining order barring Wallace from using the social networking site, the aforementioned contempt of court charges allege that he violated this order almost immediately.
As an interesting aside, the judge in that case issued a $711 million judgment against Wallace, a figure that the AP describes as "one of the largest-ever anti-spam awards."
If you're having trouble grasping exactly how a person gets themselves into this kind of trouble, just know that in the 1990s, when most people still thought "Internet" was a synonym for "AOL chatroom," Wallace's firm, Cyber Promotions, was sending out 30 million spam emails daily.
Since then his enterprise has only grown, and while official figures aren't available, it's widely agreed that Mr. Wallace as done quite well for himself, financially.
If the government's case against him sticks however, Wallace could face up to $2 million in fines and 40 years behind bars.
Source: Enterprise Security
(Thanks to Mattttherman3 for the tip!)