The Spam Diaries

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

Friday, October 26, 2007

Indictment against Soloway online

And speaking of Soloway, SpamSuite now has the Feds' Superceding Indictment against Soloway on line for your reading pleasure.

In a nutshell, the government alleges that Soloway operated Newport Internet Marketing (NIM) starting in 1998. He currently runs it from Seattle. His business model was to use fake company names and various domain names to spam out ads for his spamming services and software. He fraudulently claimed that the spam would be sent to people who had opted in and that the spam would be geographically and interest targeted. He also offered a 100% refund if not satisfied. The spamming software often did not work at all, but Soloway would refuse to provide asistance or refunds. Soloway would threaten customers' credit ratings if they persisted in demanding refunds.

The government also alleges that registered domain names through chinese ISPs which would not reveal him as the owner.

The government also covers the usual CAN-SPAM violations such as spamming, false headers, identity theft and so forth.

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Jason Downey sentenced to one year for botnet

I previously mentioned Downey in June when he was arrested as part of Operation Bot Herder, where he was charged alongside of Robert Soloway.

Downey has been sentenced to 1 year in prison, 3 years probation, and just over $21,000 in restitution. He will require prior permission to access a computer during his probation.

The government's case against Downey stated that he'd controlled a botnet of over 6000 infected computers which he used to launch ddos attacks against other networks he wanted to knock off line.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Encyclopedia of Spam — three hours to go

Only three hours left and the bidding is still less than what it cost me to bind it. Someone's going to get a bargain.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

News on David Ritz case

As I've written before on occasion, former porn spammer Jerry Reynolds filed a couple of SLAPP lawsuits against me over my old anti-spam website. In addition, he sued spam-fighter David Ritz for running "unauthorized" DNS lookups on his servers.*

Obviously David isn't really being sued over a few DNS lookups; he's being sued for being a thorn in Reynolds' side during the years when he was trying to get the Netzilla/Sexzilla porn spam operation to stop spamming.

At any rate, the trial in David's case started this week. I don't have access to a lot of information coming from the trial, but I did just receive word that plaintiff's motion to exclude David's expert witness was denied. It's not much, but it's good to know that the first news from the trial is good news.

Just a reminder that David's legal expenses are mounting. You can help by donating to his legal fund at: David Ritz; c/o Debra S. Koenig; Godfrey and Kahn, S.C.; 780 N Water Street; Milwaukee WI; 53202. Or, if you like, you can donate by paypal or credit card.

And finally, the auction for a copy of the Encyclopedia of Spam closes in just one day. Currently, the bidding is so low that the winner will get it for less than it cost me to have it bound. Here's your chance to own a very rare conversation piece. Proceeds go to David's defense fund. (Sorry, not available in North Dakota.)

*For those unfamiliar with the inner workings of the internet, a DNS lookup is equivalent to calling up a switchboard and asking for a phone number. For example, if you want to call your local library, you don't punch L-I-B-R-A-R-Y into your phone, you first look up the number that belongs to the library, and then punch that in. By the exact same token, if you want to connect your web browser to, you first go do a DNS server lookup to get the IP address of and then make your connection. The difference is that the lookup process is done automatically for you by your browser.

That's right, every single one of you do hundreds of DNS lookups every day. You had to do one just to read this blog. Yet this is exactly what David Ritz is being sued for.

The other things David are accused of doing are a zone transfer and a whois lookup. A zone transfer is equivalent to calling the library and asking for a copy of their phone list. A whois lookup is equivalent to going to the county clerk's office and looking up the owner of a property.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Interesting Motion To Strike document filed by E360

Not entirely sure what to make of it, but it's a fun read. In September, Mark Ferguson, a former defendant in a SLAPP lawsuit brought against him by E360 and then later dismissed, filed a "friend of the court" affidavit in the E360 SLAPP suit against Spamhaus.

Two days ago, E360 filed a motion to have Ferguson's affidavit struck from the record. Their reasons for this are fun to read.

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Sindeelou Thomson dismisses lawsuit

In August, I wrote about Sindeelou Thomson who was suing politician John Doolittle for spamming. I didn't expect this to get much traction since the existing anti-spam laws, such as they are, are written to exempt politicians.

According to SpamSuite, she has dismissed her case. No details are given as to why.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Encyclopedia of Spam up for auction

Thanks to the generosity of one of the donors to David Ritz's defense fund, there is a copy of the Encyclopedia up for auction right now. The auction will be up in 5 days. Bid now for your chance to own this unique piece of spamemorabilia. (I just made up that word; do you like it?)

The book is signed by the author (that's me.) Proceeds go to David Ritz's defense fund.


Porn typosquatter John Zuccarini fined by FTC

Interesting article from InfoWorld a few days ago: Porn typosquatter fined again by FTC.

In a nutshell, John Zuccarini is a typosquatter who registered misspellings of popular web sites (e.g. "") and served hard-core porn on those sites. Fined and imprisoned on child porn charges in 2003, he resumed typo-squatting after his release in 2005.


More spammers in the slammer

Still catching up on the week's news, I bring word that two spammers from the Arizona Spam Gang which specialized in sending hard-core porn spam to AOL users have received prison sentences.

Jeffy Kilbride and James Schaffer were convicted in June on eight charges including money laundering and transporting obscene materials. According to Bruce Sterling's article in WiReD magazine, Kilbride received six years and Schaffer received slightly over five years. They were also forced to forfeit a million dollars of ill-gotten gains.

Previously convicted were Kirk F. Rogers, Jennifer Clason of Tempe, Arizona, and Andrew Ellifson. They were allowed to skate in exchange for turning state's evidence against Kilbride and Schaffer.

More articles:

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More on the Wagner and Cannon anti-spam victories

Last June, I wrote about anti-spam activists Joe Wagner and David Cannon who were taking a number of spammers to court in small claims court in Palo Alto, CA.

In today's Stanford Daily, Marissa Miller brings us up to date on their progress. According to the article, Wagner has collected over $40,000 in settlements and damages. The money goes to various charities like Second Harvest and the Darfur Stove Project. Most of the spammers served settled out of court, while Valueclick, WorldAvenue, SubscriberBASE, and Azoogle elected to fight it out in court. All four lost in small claims court but appealed. The appeal was held last Thursday in San Jose. The verdict has not yet been announced.

Wagner has created the web page to help other Stanford students who want to fight spam.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Help fight a spammer SLAPP Suit — donate to defense fund

Spam-fighter David Ritz needs your help.

In previous editions of the Spam Diaries I've told the tale of a SLAPP lawsuit brought against me by spammer Jerry Reynolds.

In a nutshell, Reynolds sued me for defamation over his entry in my anti-spam website. The purpose of this lawsuit, obviously, was to suppress information about his prior spamming activities, and to extract revenge against an anti-spammer who had caused him trouble in the past. For more information about this lawsuit, see my entries About the lawsuits and SLAPP Lawsuits by Jerry Reynolds.

One issue which I've only brushed on is another lawsuit filed by Reynolds, against anti-spammer David Ritz. David is a spam-fighter of long standing, and one of the most meticulous I have ever met. If you ever need hard data on a spammer, contact David. (Just be prepared to wade through megabytes of evidence.) David has apparently been more of a thorn in Reynolds' hide than I have, so Reynolds is pursuing this case with a vengeance.

The case has been going on for more than a year, with Reynolds and his lawyer attacking viciously and repeatedly. David has been repeatedly deposed. His computers have been repeatedly subpoenaed. At his lawyer's request, we've only communicated to each other through our lawyers, so I'm not privy to everything that happened since the lawsuit against me was dismissed, but I do know that his expenses have been astronomical.

SLAPP lawsuits by spammers against anti-spammers are nothing new. Spamhaus has been sued twice. MAPS has been sued multiple times. Numerous other spam-fighters have also been sued. One of the differences here is that David is not an organization with resources or an individual with means. Unlike Spamhaus, he has no pro-bono lawyer. Frankly, I'm surprised he's survived this long.

The actual trial comes up very soon, and so I expect his expenses to increase vastly over the next few weeks.

The purpose of this entry is to ask that people give as generously as they can to David's defense fund.

Checks may be mailed to

David Ritz
c/o Debra S. Koenig
Godfrey and Kahn, S.C.
780 N Water Street
Milwaukee WI 53202

I have also created a web page where you may make donations by Paypal or credit card. This is more convenient, but a check directly to his lawyer's office will get there quicker.

Just for fun, I've created an added incentive: those who donates $500 or more will receive a bound copy of my Encyclopedia of Spam. The cost of producing this will be part of my donation to David's defense fund. This book is the source of this blog's logo.

Please give as much as you can.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Capchas used to digitize old books — killing two birds with one stone

Here's something wonderful from Carnegie Mellon: Scans from old books that prove too difficult for OCR software to decode are used as capchas. Users solve the capcha to prove they're human, and help digitize old books at the same time.