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We often think of criminal identity theft as a single crime committed against a single individual. But most cases are more far reaching than that. Take the case of Robert Soloway who was arrested in Seattle on May 30, 2007. Described as one of the world's most prolific spammers, Soloway was accused of using networks of compromised ‘zombie' computers to send out millions of spam e-mails.
But Soloway was indicted for more than being a ‘spammer' – a federal grand jury returned a 35-count indictment for multiple identity theft crimes, including mail fraud, wire fraud, e-mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
What makes the use of ‘zombie' computers so lethal is that the people who own the them have no idea their computers have been infected with the malicious code. Using the network of compromised machines, Soloway was able to send out millions and millions of unsolicited bulk e-mails directing them to his Internet marketing company. What was the service he was selling? He sold e-mail advertising packages that would send as many as 20 million e-mail ads in 15 days for $495. And he's been doing it since 2003.
Soloway's case is the first in the country in which federal prosecutors used identity theft statutes to prosecute a spammer for hijacking someone else's domain name.
Although prosecutors had not yet calculated guideline sentencing at the time of this writing, it is likely Soloway will be facing decades in prison.