Facebook’s “Spam King” pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges, including criminal contempt and fraud. Per the plea agreement, Sanford Wallace admitted hacking an estimated 500,000 social media accounts and using those accounts to send more than 27 million unsolicited messages.
As stated in a Federal Bureau of Investigation press release, which was published in August 2011, Wallace accessed Facebook’s computer network on three separate occasions between November 2008 and March 2009. Once inside, he initiated a program that sent millions of spam messages through other users’ accounts.
The unsolicited messages contained a link, which sent users to another website. Authorities said Wallace ultimately profited from the scheme, as he was paid for the traffic the website received.
In 2009, Facebook tracked the unsolicited messages to the Spam King and filed a federal lawsuit. As a result, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel forbid Wallace from using Facebook under any circumstances. Authorities later discovered the defendant created a new Facebook account using the pseudonym “David Sinful-Saturdays Fredericks.”
According to the press release, Sanford Wallace violated the judge’s order by logging in to the new account on numerous occasions in January and February 2011.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) August 26, 2015
In July 2011, Facebook’s Spam King was indicted on several federal charges, including criminal contempt, fraud, and causing intentional damage to a protected computer.
United States Attorney Melinda Haag confirmed Wallace surrendered to federal authorities on August 4, 2011.
Although he was facing more than 10 years in prison, the Spam King’s guilty plea included a reduced sentence. As reported by CBS News, Sanford Wallace is now facing a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sanford Wallace’s criminal career dates back to the 1990s, when he used fax machines to distribute unsolicited flyers. In 1995, he founded Cyber Promotions, which quickly became one of the most successful distributors of email marketing campaigns.
— The OSINT (@theosint) August 25, 2015
Beginning in the late 1990s, the Spam King was named in numerous lawsuits initiated by social media sites, internet service providers, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
In the 2009 lawsuit, which was filed by Facebook, Sanford Wallace was ordered to pay $711 million in damages. However, they are unlikely to collect as the defendant filed bankruptcy.
Officials confirmed the Spam King pleaded guilty to the federal charges on Monday. Computing reports his sentencing is scheduled for December 7.