The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rizler documents on line

Last November, Christopher William Smith, known as "Rizler" was convicted of running an illegal online drug operation.

Today, SpamSuite placed the legal documents on-line for all to read. Highlights include Smith's request for a new trial, the detention order placing him in solitary with limited visitation rights, the sentencing document that lists Smith's long career as a scammer.

Long before Christopher Smith established his illegal online pharmacy, he was already an experienced Internet scam artist. Beginning at least in the 1990s, when he was in his teens, and continuing well into his 20s, Smith sold a wide variety of dubious if not outright fraudulent products through large-scale unsolicited email (spam) campaigns. The products Smith spammed included human growth hormones, penis enlargement pills, “phermone” concentrate, and an online gambling casino (in which winners were not paid their winnings). Smith also set up a fake escrow service to receive proceeds from the purported sales of Dell laptops and plasma TVs. Customers who paid Smith never received any product.

On November 20, 2002, one of the victims of his scams, Time Warner, obtained a permanent injunction against Smith, his business at the time, Rizler, Inc., and others from the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (Case No. 0:01cv1077 (DDA/FLN)), enjoining them from selling cable TV descramblers which illegally stole cable signals.

While there were very few laws governing spam email campaigns until the CAN-SPAM act was passed in late 2003, Smith nonetheless engaged in a wide-variety of illegal activity surrounding his spamming endeavors. For example, in addition to defrauding customers out of their money as discussed above, Smith stole email accounts and used computer programs to obtain customer account information and passwords. He also set up fake email accounts using stolen credit numbers, and in turn used those fake email accounts to spread his spam.

Other scary information: Smith took in on the order of $24 million, most of which he was able to hide from authorities. He paid $1.1 million in cash for a house. The techniques he used to illegally communicate with his associates from jail are also fascinating. The death threats are a little scary.

Enjoy your weekend everybody.

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