Alleged 'Seattle Spammer' arrested

After being indicted by a federal grand jury, Robert Alan Soloway pleads not guilty to 35 counts related to junk e-mail.
Written by Candace Lombardi, Contributor
Alleged spam mogul Robert Alan Soloway was arrested on Wednesday after being indicted by a federal grand jury.

The man the Washington State Office of the Attorney General has dubbed the Seattle Spammer was given an August 6 trial, during which he is set to face 35 charges related to suspected fraudulent Internet activities.

Soloway, owner of Newport Internet Marketing, was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 23 in a U.S. District Court in Seattle on 10 counts of mail fraud, 5 counts of wire fraud, 2 counts of e-mail fraud, 5 counts of aggravated identity theft and 13 counts of money laundering.

Soloway pleaded not guilty to all charges on Wednesday at his arraignment, according to court documents.

The indictment is a culmination of an investigation collaboratively conducted by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation unit, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property units of the Department of Justice, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

"Spam is a scourge of the Internet, and Robert Soloway is one of its most prolific practitioners. Our investigators dubbed him the Spam King because he is responsible for millions of spam e-mails," Jeffrey Sullivan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, said in a statement.

Soloway is being accused of operating false Web sites and more than 50 domains, through which he posed as an advertiser offering legitimate "broadcast e-mail services" with "permission-based opt-in e-mail addresses." He allegedly deceived legitimate businesses into buying marketing software and services that turned out to be spam tools. Businesses that complained were met with intimidation and threats, according to the allegations against Soloway.

The alleged spammer is also accused of creating more than 2,000 proxy computers, or botnets--computers hijacked by hackers to send spam--and of using stolen e-mail and domain names that led to others' ISP addresses being blocked and those victims accused of being originating spammers.

The trial is set to go before Judge Marsha Pechman, with a detention hearing prior to that on June 4 before Judge James Donohue. Until then, Soloway is scheduled to remain in custody.

Soloway, whose assets have been forfeited by the U.S. government, was also appointed a public defender Wednesday.

While Soloway is being charged for alleged actions between November 2003 and May 2007, he incorporated Newport Internet Marketing, or NIM, in 1998 in California. Soloway moved his organization to Oregon in 2000 and then again to Seattle in 2003, where he has been living ever since.

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