Facebook hijacker: US throws king spammer in the slammer

Prolific spammer Sanford Wallace will spend the next two-and-a-half years in jail.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Sanford Wallace in 1997, around the time he dubbed himself the 'king of spam'.

Image: CNET

'Spam King' Sanford Wallace has been given a 30-month prison sentence for a scheme that hijacked Facebook user accounts to send spam.

The 47-year-old from Las Vegas was also fined $310,000 for the scheme, which used 500,000 compromised Facebook accounts to send over 27 million spam messages through Facebook's servers, according to the US Attorney's Office.

Wallace pleaded guilty last August to one count of fraud and one count of criminal contempt, relating to a flood of Facebook message spam between 2008 and 2009.

Facebook and MySpace had previously sued Wallace under US anti-spam laws. As a result of Facebook's suit in 2009, he was banned from logging into his Facebook account, but disobeyed the order.

The money-making scheme relied on using compromised Facebook accounts to direct users to affiliate websites via a link in the message. A script he wrote would send spam to the contacts of a compromised account.

Recipients of the spam would see a message from a friend that, for example, said: "How did your pictures get uploaded on [website]?" Anyone who clicked on the link would also be required to enter an email address and password to access the site, which would be collected and stored for further spam runs.

Wallace admitted to accessing Facebook's computer network three times between 2008 and 2009 to send spam. He also agreed the government could argue that Facebook's losses from the spam were anywhere between $400,000 and $1m.

After serving his two-and-a-half-year sentence, Wallace faces five years of supervised release.

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