Bail Denied for Alleged 'Spam King'

A man accused of defrauding people through tens of millions of spam e-mail messages sent around the world was denied bail Wednesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue said Robert Soloway, 27, of Seattle, should remain in jail until his trial scheduled for Aug. 6 because he has minimal ties to Washington state and has family in Sweden.

"These are allegations of cyber crimes that have no geographical borders," Donohue said. "It's just as easy to continue these actions in Sweden as it is in the United States."

But Soloway's attorney, Richard Troberman, wrote in a court filing that the government's evidence that Soloway would flee was "woefully short on facts." Soloway has only traveled out of the country with his parents, Troberman said.

Soloway -- dubbed the "Spam King" by federal investigators -- was arrested May 30 on 35 charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The government is also seeking $773,000 as proceeds of Soloway's activities.

Federal prosecutors allege that Soloway has sent tens of millions of e-mail messages since 2003 to advertise his company, which offered software to send out broadcast e-mails. For $495, customers could have an ad sent to 20 million e-mail addresses or receive software allowing them to send up to 80 million e-mails.

The Spamhaus Project, an international anti-spam organization, listed Soloway as one of about 135 spammers deemed responsible for as much as 80 percent of all junk e-mail.

Soloway and his company's Web site claimed that the e-mail addresses on his lists were given by people who agreed to receive messages, and that the product offered a money-back guarantee.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Warma said in court that Soloway told customers who tried to receive refunds that he would take them to a collection agency and ruin their credit.

People were also unable to opt-out of Soloway's spam list, costing them time and money, Warma said. The Santa Barbara County, Calif., Department of Social Services said it spent $1,000 a week to fight the spam it received, according to Warma and court documents.

Donohue also said Soloway's previous actions demonstrated an unwillingness to abide by court orders. Soloway continued his spamming even after Microsoft Corp. won a $7 million civil judgment against him in 2005 and a small Internet service provider in Oklahoma won a $10 million judgment, prosecutors said.


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