Spam king escapes from prison

35-year old Davidson walked out of a federal prison camp in Colorado on Sunday. The FBI has now officially classed Davidson as an escapee and set the IRS and “Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force” (a real organisation) to try and recapture Davidson.

In theory it shouldn’t be difficult to locate Davidson dubbed “the spam king” at the time of his conviction: police just need to look for someone with an unfeasibly large organ dozens of Russian brides a bunch of discounted stocks and a letter from a Nigerian bank official.

While Davidson was convicted for promoting “pump and dump” stock schemes (which are way less exciting than they sound) we figure that anyone who sends spam for a living would want to cast their net wide. Or widen their net with Viagra. Or something.

Davidson age 35 of Louisville Colorado was sentenced in April to serve 21 months followed by 3 years of supervised release for sending spam as well as paying $714139 in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Davidson also agreed to forfeit all his property purchased with the spoils of spamming which apparently included pure gold bullion.

According to the US District Court Davidson spammed from 2002 through to 2007 under the business name “Power Promoters”. Despite the length of time he did it and the millions of spam messages sent he only had 19 companies as clients showing that spam-based business activities may be far more concentrated than they appear.

Capturing spammers has proven difficult. Davidson was unusual in sending many of his spam messages from his own premises; many spammers make use of bot networks to send large volumes of messages making it very difficult to trace them to their origins.

Convictions for sending spam have been few and far between despite the introduction of anti-spam laws in Australia and many other countries. Robert Solway also dubbed “the Spam King” by reporters was convicted this week of similar charges — only the second recorded anti-spam conviction in the US. Despite its nuisance value spam is often viewed as a low-level crime an attitude reflected in Davidson’s incarceration in a low-security prison camp.

Spam is widely viewed as a nuisance a major business loss and a key means of distributing malware which can then be used to steal passwords or other personal data. Research from anti-virus company Sophos released earlier this month suggests spam comprises 96.5% of all business email.