Man accused of £1.5m Web scams

Peter Francis-Macrae, labelled Britain’s top spammer, is facing charges of making death threats at Peterborough Crown Court, where details of his alleged Internet activities have emerged

A UK man on trial this week over alleged death threats had separately obtained over £1.5m through a series of online scams, the court heard on Tuesday.

Peterborough Crown Court was told by the prosecution that Peter Francis-Macrae had tricked thousands of people into sending him money to register a .eu domain name on their behalf. Francis-Macrae is also alleged to have sent letters to people whose domain names were about to expire, demanding a renewal fee.

According to The Times, at its height the .eu scam brought in £200,000 per month, while the domain registration letters accrued some £600,000.

Francis-Macrae is charged with making threats to kill against two women and a man, threatening to destroy or damage property by claiming he would burn down Cambridgeshire trading standards department, blackmail, fraudulent trading and transferring criminal property or “money laundering”. He denies the charges.

Francis-Macrae has previously been labelled the UK's top spammer. Spamhaus, a group that identifies junk emailers and helps ISPs to block their traffic, includes him on its list of professional spammers.

Francis-Macrae is also alleged to have sent a spam email in 2003 which told people they were about to be billed £399 unless they called a telephone number to cancel the order. The number belonged to Cambridgeshire Police, who had recently arrested Francis-Macrae, and the attack jammed the force's network.

Police also say that Francis-Macrae had threatened Nominet that he would launch a massive DoS attack against it.

In November 2003 Nominet, which runs the .uk registry, won an injunction against Macrae that prevents him from threatening Nominet's staff or using its whois database of .uk domain owners. Nominet had claimed he has been using the whois to send fraudulent re-registration letters to domain owners.