Suspected spam king Christopher Smith (also known as "Rizler")
is expected to appear in court today after his arrest at
Minneapolis St Paul International airport.
Smith was arrested shortly after midnight after stepping off a
flight on Thursday 30 June from the Dominican Republic. Smith had
been operating there since a US federal judge in May shut down his
lucrative businesses, Burnsville Internet and Xpress Pharmacy
Direct, and ordered him to stop selling drugs.
Through his companies, Smith is alleged to have sent more than
one billion spam emails either to AOL email addresses or through
AOL email accounts. The FBI claims that Smith has already made
about $18 million this year.
"There are huge profits to be made from spam, and organised
criminals are prepared to break many laws in their greed for money.
Rizler has been one of the most notorious spammers, and anyone who
has been deluged with spam offering medication and drugs will
welcome the US authorities making progress in this case," said
senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Of course, spam wouldn't
be profitable if no-one bought the goods sold via spam. Everyone
should protect their email accounts from spam and viruses, and
think twice before ever purchasing goods advertised via unsolicited
According to the FBI, 25-year-old Smith had flown to the
Dominican Republic under a false passport, used a cash card to
obtain money from a bank account after it had been seized by a
court order, and had his wife Anita, his Minnesota girlfriend and
others bring him thousands of dollars in cash.
On May 10, federal authorities raided Xpress Pharmacy and
Smith's home, seizing his passport and $4.2 million in assets,
including a $1.1 million house and luxury vehicles worth $1.8
million. At the same time the FBI closed down his 85-employee
company. Investigators concluded that Smith had been selling
medicines to customers without proper prescriptions and selling
drugs without a license. Smith appeared in a federal court after
the raid, but four days later fled to the Dominican Republic.
The US Attorney's office claims that Smith had broken court
orders, and is recommending that he be held in criminal contempt
and jailed for six months.
Court documents allege that by 21 June, Smith had used aliases
to set up new websites and was selling drugs without prescriptions
online and through a new call center he had set up in the Dominican
Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses
from the threats of both spam and viruses.