We look at the world's ten biggest 'spam kings' to see who deserves the title of King of Kings.
Alias: Fast Eddie
Current Status: Dead by his own hand
Few spammers' stories are more senseless or tragic than Davidson's. According to the FBI, Davidson operated a business called Power Promoters that flogged everything from perfumes and watches to penny stocks. In June 2007, Davidson was indicted for violating the CAN-SPAM Act. He plead guilty and was sentenced to 21 months in a minimum security prison in Colorado.
Last July Davidson simply walked out of the prison camp, and forced his wife to pick him up and drive him home. The 35-year-old fugitive then murdered his wife and his three-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself. His 16-year-old daughter was shot but survived; an 8-month-old son was unharmed. Davidson had served just two months of his 21-month sentence.
Spam Royalty Rank: Dauphin of Despair
Aliases: Ric Melhalf, Steve Lister
Current Activity: Network Consultant
This dropout made his reputation pushing viagra and bogus weight-loss cures. Waggoner is one of the rare spammers, or bulk emailers, 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 optimisation, 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' email lists to spammers. Then Soloway got into the spamming business himself, using botnets to spew billions of junk emails on behalf of his clients. In 2005, Microsoft sued Soloway for spoofing Hotmail and MSN addresses in his spam and won a $7.8m judgement.
That same year, Soloway was ordered to pay $10m (£5.8m) to a small Oklahoma-based ISP. In a message posted on a spammers forum, Soloway mocked these judgements: "Neither I, nor my company will be filing for 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, email fraud, and tax evasion (just three 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
NEXT PAGE: Even more spam kings
- But whose King of the Kings?
- Edward Davidson and Bill Waggoner
- Even more spam kings
- Christopher William Smith and Alan Ralsky
- Our Kings of Spammers