Will the Real Spam King Please Stand Up?

Bill Waggoner

Bill Waggoner
Aliases: Ric Melhalf, Steve Lister

Current Activity: Network Consultant

This 7th-grade dropout made his reputation pushing penis pills and bogus weight-loss cures. Waggoner is one of the rare spammers, or bulk e-mailers, to come out in public, speaking at the FTC's spam hearings in 2003 (He also calls antispam activists "terrorists.")

Though still named in the Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) list of the Top 200 spammers, the 34-year-old Waggoner now bills himself as an expert on "network optimization, marketing trends, ad placement, and many other business needs" for affiliate marketers.

Spam Royalty Rank: Viceroy of Viagra

Robert Alan Soloway

Aliases: Badvertise500, Oregondude541, worldmailer541

Current Status: About to Serve 47 Months in Federal Prison

Soloway's Newport Internet Marketing Corporation started out in 1997 by selling bogus "opt in" e-mail lists to spammers. Then Soloway got into the spamming business himself, using botnets to spew billions of junk e-mails on behalf of his clients. In 2005, Microsoft sued Soloway for spoofing Hotmail and MSN addresses in his spam and won a $7.8 million judgment. That same year, Soloway was ordered to pay $10 million to a small Oklahoma-based ISP. In a message posted on a spammers forum, Soloway mocked these judgments:

"Neither I, nor my company will be for filing bankruptcy and Microsoft will not be collecting a single dime from me, nor has anyone ever collected a single dime from me from any lawsuit I have been in.... The Microsoft lawsuit was the most enjoyable lawsuit I have been in, in a long time. I met up with all of them and had fun through the entire process:)"

In May 2007 the FBI arrested the 28-year-old for a wide range of illegal activities. In March of this year Soloway pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud, e-mail fraud, and tax evasion (just 3 of the 40 counts he was charged with), and in July, he was sentenced to 47 months in the pokey.

Wonder how much fun he's having now?

Spam Royalty Rank: Baron of Botnets

Vardan Kushnir

Vardin Kushnir
Alias: None

Current Status: Pushing Daisies

He's been called "Russia's most despised Internet figure," and that's saying a lot. At his peak, Kushnir spewed 25 million e-mails a day to promote his own language tutoring businesses, overloading servers and causing many ISPs worldwide to blacklist any e-mails coming from the .ru domain--much to the chagrin of legitimate Russian Netizens who found it impossible to communicate with the rest of the world. He taunted Russian government officials and alienated employees by refusing to pay them.

When the 35-year-old Kushnir was bludgeoned to death in July 2005 --allegedly in "self defense" by three women he'd picked up in a bar in Moscow--the reaction in the Russian press was largely gleeful. No one has been charged in the crime.

Spam Royalty Rank: Count of the Cossacks

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