|Scott Richter claims he is not breaking American
Scott Richter, dubbed by some the world's third-biggest spammer,
has agreed to pay a total of $50,000 in settlement with the New
York Attorney General for using innocent computers to send out
millions of spam messages. The fine is a fraction of the $20
million punishment that New York State originally aimed to extract
The Internet Bureau of the New York Attorney General created
Hotmail email accounts as honeytraps for spammers. Over 10,000 spam
messages collated in these accounts were said to have originated
from Richter and his cronies.
Richter, who is the founder of OptInRealBig.com and prefers the
title of "high-volume email marketer" to spammer, has claimed that
all his activity and emails are compliant with the USA's anti-spam
However, according to the Attorney General, unsolicited emails
were sent on Richter's behalf and contained forged headers,
falsified routing information, and deceptive subject lines. Richter
was also charged with using a network of more than 500 zombie PCs -
compromised computers belonging to innocent third-parties that are
under the control of a remote hacker or spammer - to increase the
amount of spam he could send at any one time. As part of the
settlement, Richter did not have to admit to any illegal
"Richter seems to have got off virtually scott-free, the payout
being tiny when compared to what the authorities were originally
demanding," said Carole Theriault, security consultant at Sophos.
"The USA authorities must be disappointed that they were not able
to get a result that would send a clear message to other spammers
that they cannot continue to bombarded mailboxes worldwide with an
army of zombie computers. Users need to protect themselves from
being exploited by spammers by using up-to-date anti-virus software
and personal firewalls."
"This settlement holds Richter and his company to a new standard
of accountability in their delivery of emails," said New York State
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. "If he does not fulfill these
standards, he will find himself back in court, facing greater
Microsoft, who has filed a parallel lawsuit in a Washington
state court against Richter and his team for sending spam to its
Hotmail customers, seem undeterred by the outcome in New York and
are continuing with their lawsuit.
"It remains to be seen if Microsoft have better luck with their
case," continued Theriault.