On Wednesday, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said that his office brought four felony and two misdemeanor charges against Buffalo, N.Y., resident Howard Carmack for alleged identity theft and forgery that allowed him to send more than 825 million e-mail messages through the Internet service provider EarthLink.
Carmack is alleged to have opened more than 340 accounts with EarthLink using stolen credit cards and other false documentation, causing the ISP to lose in excess of $1 million in network resources and bogus accounts.
Spitzer said that a recently enacted identity theft statute, as well as the cooperation of the FBI's Buffalo Cyber Task Force, the New York State Police and EarthLink during a yearlong investigation of Carmack, led to the arrest this week.
"Spam itself is not illegal. What makes this criminal conduct is the intersection of spamming...with forgery and identity theft," said Spitzer during a press conference call.
The criminal case against Carmack is the state's first under the identify theft statute, according to Spitzer. Not only does it allow the state to confront one of the fastest-growing areas of criminal conduct--identity theft--but it also "sends a message to others who are spamming," he said.
The case comes a week afterand injunction against Carmack, who got his moniker from the ISP. That case, filed in November in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, alleged that Carmack, 36, had used stolen credit cards, identity theft and other illegal means to purchase hundreds of Internet accounts in order to send out unwanted mail.
The Carmack lawsuit ranks among the three largest spamming judgments that EarthLink has received to date.
Carmack could face up to seven years in jail if convicted of forgery. He immediately entered not guilty pleas before Buffalo City Court Judge Diane Devlin; bail was set at $20,000. The next court date is May 19.
Earlier this year, Spitzer's office won a case against alleged spammer MonsterHut of Niagara Falls. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lottie E. Wilkins permanently enjoined the company and its officers from engaging in fraudulent, deceptive and illegal acts related to e-mail.