Sanford Wallace, known as the “Spam King,” was recently indicted in California federal court on criminal charges of computer fraud and tampering, and could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
The indictment alleges that between 2008 and 2009, Wallace comprised more than 500,000 Facebook accounts with phishing messages that solicited user passwords. Prosectors say Wallace used the collected passwords to post Facebook wall messages that appeared to come from users’ confirmed friends, but linked to websites paying Wallace for directing traffic to them, The Associated Press reports.
As head of a company called Cyber Promotions, Wallace has been a notorious figure in the realm of internet security for years. During the 1990s, Cyber Promotions was infamous for flooding email accounts with junk messages, and in the past decade, courts ordered Wallace to pay $711 million in damages to Facebook and $230 million to MySpace for inundating the sites with spam.
In addition to jail time, Wallace could be fined $1.9 million if convicted in the criminal case, according to The AP.
According to a survey released earlier this summer, a majority of computer users believe malware is spread mainly through email messages, but most is distributed via social media websites like Facebook.