Justice Catching Up To Spammers

Thursday, March 20, 2008 by Mistlee

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David A. Utter

CJustice Catching Up To Spammers

Daniel Mascia and Robert Soloway face federal penalties for their spamming, while Robert Bentley awaits a decision on leniency in exchange for his help in tracking down botnetters.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, yet heavily, and grind up the guilty. Several recent cases show some wins by the good guys, for a change.

In Connecticut, federal prosecutors released a statement about Mascia, who pleaded guilty to two counts related to phishing and spamming AOL customers through the use of Trojans delivered as greeting card spam.

"If an AOL subscriber attempted to view the greeting card, the subscriber's computer would be infected with a software trojan preventing the subscriber from accessing AOL without entering information including the subscriber's name, address, Social Security account number, credit card number, bank account number, and personal identification number," said US Attorney General Kevin J. O'Connor's office in a statement.

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"The defendants used the information to produce counterfeit debit cards, which they used at ATM machines, online, and at retail outlets to obtain money, goods, and services."

Robert Soloway, a spammer whose exploits earned him the enmity of Microsoft, saw his forthcoming summer fill with the prospect of 20 years in jail and a hefty fine. Information Week said Soloway pleaded guilty to mail and email fraud, and to failing to file a tax return.

Soloway used botnets to distribute spam to millions of recipients. Between November 2003 and May 2007, his Newport Internet Marketing Corporation sent tens of millions of messages hawking his websites and services.

Botnets have become the preferred way to distribute spam, as they send messages from thousands of different, compromised machines. One botnetter will likely elude a richly deserved punishment for his activities.

Trend Micro said Bentley pleaded guilty to hacking machines in Europe and infecting them with bots.

"Robert, who went by the codename LSDigital, worked with other hackers to install customized tools on hundreds of Newell Rubbermaid's computers. The company reportedly sustained at least $150,000 worth of damage," Trend Micro said.

Bentley fell victim to law enforcement as part of the FBI's 'Operation Bot Roast' investigations. However, he may be able to beat 20 years of jail time if he helps the FBI catch other criminals involved with botnets.

About the Author:
David Utter is a business and technology writer for SecurityProNews and WebProNews.

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