[June 13, 2007]

Bail Denied for Alleged 'Spam King'

(AP) Bail Denied for Alleged 'Spam King'
ANNIE FLANZRAICH
Associated Press Writer
SEATTLE
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 one of his concerns was that online crimes such as those charged against Robert Soloway -- dubbed the "Spam King" by federal investigators -- can be committed anywhere at anytime.


With minimal ties to Washington state and family in Sweden, Donohue said Soloway, 27, of Seattle, could be a flight risk.

"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."

Soloway will remain in jail without bail until his trial, which is scheduled for August 6.

Soloway 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 from November 2003 to May 2007, Soloway sent tens of millions of e-mail messages to advertise his company, which offered software to send out broadcast e-mails. For $495 customers could have an ad sent to 20,000,000 e-mails, or receive software allowing them to send up to 80,000,000 e-mails.

Soloway and his company's Web site claimed that the e-mails 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 these claims were false and Soloway allegedly 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, which cost some individuals and companies time, money and sometimes their reputations, 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 (News - Alert) won a $7 million civil judgment against him in 2005 and Robert Brauer, operator of a small Internet service provider in Oklahoma, won a $10 million judgment, prosecutors said.

Warma said most of the more than $1 million invoiced by Soloway through his company, Newport Internet Marketing, could not be tracked down because he constantly transferred money among 14 different bank accounts.

When Soloway's apartment was searched in May, authorities only found $5,000 in a bank account and said it was filled with luxury items such as designer clothing and sunglasses. Warma argued these could be turned into cash quickly.

Soloway also could present a danger to the community by continuing to allegedly intimidate possible witnesses, Warma said.

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.

He also said Soloway's assets are tied up in credit card debts, such as $100,000 owed to American Express (News - Alert), and payments on his apartment near Pike Place Market and Mercedes.

"What he owns is a lot of clothes," Troberman said at the hearing. "Every penny has been accounted for by the government. He is cash poor."

Troberman also said concerns that Soloway would try to intimidate witnesses or pose a danger to the community were shakily supported.

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