Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Spam Government The Courts News

British Spammer Gets 6 Years 190

Posted by Zonk
from the angry-little-black-hat dept.
Killjoy_NL writes "The BBC tells us that a 23 year old spammer has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for sending spam and other illegal activities." From the article: "He had offered thousands of e-mail and website names when he had no right. And when victims complained, he threatened to destroy their internet systems by sending millions of spam e-mails. Peterborough Crown Court heard he also threatened to fire-bomb the headquarters of the county's trading standards department and petrol-bomb his local police headquarters. When internet policing group Nominet posted warnings about his activities, he responded by saying he would attack its servers." ZDNet has coverage as well.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

British Spammer Gets 6 Years

Comments Filter:
  • Title Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by mysqlrocks (783488) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:44PM (#14054758) Homepage Journal
    FTA

    Peter Francis-Macrae, of St Neots, Cambs, was found guilty of threatening to kill and blackmail.

    Yes, he was a spammer but that's not what he was sentenced for.
    • by Iriel (810009) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:47PM (#14054797) Homepage
      Precisly: this kid should be better labled as a terrorist or a thug (not the hip-hop variety) rather than a spammer. I still find it horrible that he was cleared of two accounts of threatening to kill.
      • by Thwomp (773873)
        Really, they were not so much threatening as embarrassing. When I heard them on the news I couldn't help but laugh. He probably got off because there was no intent and was panicking as the police were closing in on him. Although it's a shame that all the people he scammed will probably never see their money again.
      • by CyricZ (887944) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:10PM (#14055057)
        He's not a "terrorist". His actions were apparently not politically motivated. It sounds like he was just trying to defend his business from those who opposed it.

        I know it's trendy these days for political leaders to refer to anyone they don't like as "terrorists", but I think we can maintain a higher standard here and use the word as it should be used.

        "Thug" is perhaps a more appropriate term.

        • by Iriel (810009)
          While you are correct in the modern context (and current dictionary definition) of the word, the roots of the word itself imply that a terrorist is traditionally someone who uses fear tactics and general psychological fuckery to further their goals (see also: The current US presidency). If this thug is threatening to fire-bomb and murder a few people in order to protect his scamming business, I would classify him as a low-level terrorist, however poorly organized.

          That's just my 22 cents ;)
        • by Buran (150348)
          Defending one's business is one thing, but threatening to attack other people who point out that your business is based on dishonesty and illegality is another entirely. I'd say he got what he deserved, regardless of whether or not "terrorist" is the right term (I agree that it isn't).
          • The problem is that "terrorist" is a heavy word nowadays. It means much more, in the US I believe that is near to "traitor" to some and probably "kill him right away without questioning" to a few, at least the police of the UK is guilt of this. It is a bad thing to begin to call everyone we don't like a terrorist, it is much like using a nuclear bomb to get rid of cockroaches. The word has a very emotional response and makes people derail from the line of thought.

            Now that "kid", I'm not sure we can call a 2
            • Well, don't forget that we have a bit more experience of terrorism than the US here ;-)
            • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @04:52PM (#14056816) Journal
              The problem is that "terrorist" is a heavy word nowadays.

              Actually, it's used more like Kleenex is used for a tissue, or Scotch Tape is used for cellophane tape, Band-Aid for bandage, etc....

              Criminal == Terrorist

            • Terrorist is more than just a heavy word. It has some extreme legal ramifications wrapped ip in it's use. Use it effectively in the land of the poms and you can have someone locked up for 28 days for nothing but suspiscion. The term terrorist will end up being subject to abuse, as a tool to control those who disagree with the politics of the rich. In the US you can clearly see the abuse in action with the un-republican no fly list, not to single out the americans of course, in Australia the liberals were tr
              • Yes! Sure this is exactly what I think, and every time someone uses the term over broadly or carelessly the term gets strong. It's rather like that quote from peter pan "Every time a child says, 'I don`t believe in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead." but it reads more like "Every time a person says, 'I fear the terrorists,' there will be a law somwhere that will pass that will make us less free".

        • The correct term for him is "asshole", and while "spammer" implies that, he's expanding the range of activities for which he's an asshole.


          Saying he's a thug implies he actually would carry out his threats; he may just be talking like a thug without actually intending to do anything, or he may be the type to hire thugs to go beat people up for him. From a criminal prosecution standpoint, making threats is probably enough, though obviously carrying them out is a lot more prosecutable.

        • by tzot (834456)

          He's not a "terrorist". His actions were apparently not politically motivated.

          Terrorists [reference.com] are not just those who terrorize for political reasons.

          B (terrorists) is a superset of A (terrorists with political motives>, so for every x in A, x in B is implied; I believe we agree on that. What you just said is that x is not a member of A, therefore he isn't a member of B too, which logically is flawed.

          What do you call someone who threats to bomb a building unless they are offered a large amount of money? D

      • The threatening to kill via firebombing is probably far-fetched enough that it doesn't count. I mean, if someone on the internet said they were going to come and firebomb my house, I wouldn't be sitting here scared shitless. I know the threat is just that - a threat.

        It's like me threatening to come and bull doze your house down. Do you think I'd make it there without being stopped? Do you think I would put the effort and time into it just because you said something to me on the internet?
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:49PM (#14054824)
      > > Peter Francis-Macrae, of St Neots, Cambs, was found guilty of threatening to kill and blackmail.
      >
      > Yes, he was a spammer but that's not what he was sentenced for.

      Yes, but it sounds like he thre@tened to ki1l and b1ackmai1 so many people that the threats themselves qualified as spam :-)

    • by cindy (19345) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:56PM (#14054896)
      It's like a bank robber who drove a car to the bank. "Motorist Gets 6 Years!" The article only mentions spamming in context of his other crimes.

      Francis-Macrae was found guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading, one of concealing criminal property, two of making threats to kill, one charge of threatening to destroy or damage property and one count of blackmail.

      The 23-year-old was cleared of two charges of making threats to kill.
    • by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:02PM (#14054972)

      Yes, he was a spammer but that's not what he was sentenced for.

      Somebody pointed this out last time Slashdot posted this story. [slashdot.org] But hey, if Slashdot can post misleading stories twice, we can post corrections twice, right?

    • most spam i get looks of highly dubious legality at best even in places where spamming isn't illegal.

      prescription only meds for sale.
      big name software at prices so low it seems very unlikely to be legit.
      nigerian scam type e-mails.

      Those are probabblly the biggest categories of english language spam i get, i also get a lot of chineese spam but i can't read that.

      the only other type of spam i seem to get a lot of is stuff that advertises spam messages. (note: i don't get virus mails to my inbox as they are dele
  • Only six? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashrogue (775436) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:44PM (#14054769)
    I'm sure it's easy to dismiss out of hand comments about bomb-threats from some random guy as actually being serious, but they must be taken seriously and from the proliferate amount of threats and general assholery, surely this guy deserves more than six years as a life lesson.
    • The guy needs a good shock; take all his money and make him work. But (we must assume) you only live once, a few years without freedom is a big portion of all you will ever have. I think if you lock people up for too long, your basically saying that society finds them worthless. How do you treat someone who finds you worthless? Without respect, I would imagine.
  • by yiantsbro (550957) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:45PM (#14054772)
    At first glance you think "6 years for spam...damn that's harsh". Then you read what else he did and you think "damn, only 6 years"?
    • Given how pervasive spam is and how it never seems to stop even after penalties are threatened and carried out, I actually think that it may be necessary to actually start imposing stiff penalties for spamming. Sure, it's not as bad as killing someone, but there's got to be a way to impose harsh punishments on those who do it so that things will improve. (I can hope, can't I?) The only trick is to figure out how to avoid contributing to the prison overcrowding problem that is causing people who are actually
    • If someone has a good sense of humour they should send his cellmate a 6 year supply of the "generic viagra". :)
    • At first glance you think "6 years for spam...damn that's harsh".

      No, I don't think that's harsh at all. Let's say you send a million messages per batch and you do 100 batches of spam over the course of a year. (That's two batches each week.) Now, let's further say the average recipient of your spam spends 5 seconds of their life downloading it, realizing it's spam, and deleting it. That means you've wasted 1_000_000 * 100 / 3600 * 5 hours, or 138_888 hours of people's time.

      Now, let's compare that

    • At first glance you think "6 years for spam...damn that's harsh".

      Odd, that's not what came to my mind. I was actually thinking how sad it was a crime that affects so many gets such light punishment.

      You're right though they other stuff he did was even worse. Should have got life.

    • At first glance you think "6 years for spam...damn that's harsh". Actually, as far as I'm concerned there's only one fit punishment for a spammer: 1) Nail his genitalia to a tree. 2) Hand him a butter knife. 3) Set the tree on fire. 4) If he survives step 3, shoot him. (No sense in risking re-offence!) Seriously, these people take the pristine fountain of communication that is e-mail and, with malice of forethought, piss in it. Six years is too light a sentence for a prolific spammer.
  • bait and switch (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:45PM (#14054775)
    This was a lot less about his spamming activities and a lot more about the "threatened to fire-bomb the headquarters of the county's trading standards department and petrol-bomb his local police headquarters." part.

    The fact that he was also a spammer is a side-story. Had he not done the other stuff, I'm sure he'd still be happily spamming away.

    And after looking at the picture, what a smarmy little punk.
  • by external400kdiskette (930221) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:46PM (#14054783)
    I know it's nice to think some guy peddling generic viagra got put away for 6 years but this guy seems to have other serious issues:

    "The 23-year-old was also convicted of threatening to destroy or damage property, concealing criminal property and fraudulent trading. "

    It doesn't appear he was even charged with spamming, "Francis-Macrae was found guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading, one of concealing criminal property, two of making threats to kill, one charge of threatening to destroy or damage property and one count of blackmail. ".

    And when he's making 100k pounds per week I doubt that many ppl are paying for junk, he prob was scamming somehow.
  • Good Riddance. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:46PM (#14054787)

    Jackass. Interesting that this particular model citizen didn't stop with mere spamming, but added arson threats and murder threats to his repitoire. Hopefully, this will serve to further erase the fictitous dividing line between spammers and "real criminals".
  • by anonymo (878718)
    'Vindictive' UK spammer jailed for six years
    http://www.theregister.com/2005/11/17/spammer_jail ed/ [theregister.com]

    Good news!
  • by hattig (47930) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:48PM (#14054805) Journal
    I think it was this guy.

    He sent out fake renewal notices to people, using whois data. The notices asked for a renewal fee of around £60 for 2 years renewal.

    I reported that company several times to trading standards, as my line of work was in the same area, and it was affecting my customers who would get in contact and ask about their renewal status, that they'd sent in the cheque a while ago... this happened dozens of times, and I was running a tiny internet company.

    His response? He moved his company to a Mailboxes Etc (Regent Street, Cambridge, UK) that I also used, thus sullying my companies name. Mailboxes Etc were not interested in the fact that their customer was a scammer.
    • Uh huh, and the fact that another customer uses the same PO box shop you do sullies your reputation ... ooookay. I'm not following here. If I rent a PO box, how do I know someone selling porn is using the next box over? I don't. What does that have to do with my reputation?
      • In the pron case, in all likleyhood your business would be very different from that of the porn company so there is no confusion.

        But think about what happened to this guy - the scammer now has the exact same address as the official company that only differs by a P.O. Box. People would naturally start thinking it was indeed from him and be more inclined to think it was a billing screw-up.

        • But it wouldn't have the official company's logo, etc. on it, though, now would it? (If it did the guy would be liable for hefty fines). I've never gotten a bill that wasn't very distinct and clearly from who it claimed to be from. The dodgy ones always look dodgy.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:51PM (#14054844)
    2 year sentence. Ahhh, the oldest democracy, nice to see we have our priorities spot on.
  • "He is accused of fraudulently selling unavailable .eu domains among other dubious business practices dating back five years." Where do i sign up?

    "... He's accused of threatening to slit the throats of trading standards ..." Tha's what a 24 should be doing, not spamming

  • Not only is the guy a piece of crap spammer, hes also a psycho. Good thing he is locked up, maybe the amount of spam floating around will decrease by some small fraction of a percemt
  • Good! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Whackjob23 (931901) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:52PM (#14054854)
    Now hopefully he'll know the feeling of having unwanted items shoved into his inbox. Or outbox, depending upon your view of that type of thing....
    • Actually...now that you mention it, and this is quite an odd question, but what are British prisons like? We all know the stories about US Pound-Me-In-The-Ass prisons, but are they like that in the UK?

  • could someone explain the "Reunite Gondwondaland!" at the bottom of the Slashdot page to me? Googling the phrase yields nothing but drug spam posted to blogs.

    I feel so ignorant.
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gondwanaland [wikipedia.org]

      Apart from the incorrect spelling, Gondwanaland was one of two supercontinents resulting from the breakup of Pangaea. (The other was Laurasia.) It came into existence around 200 million years ago, then began to break up around 160 million years ago.
    • "Reunite Gondwondaland!"

      Gondwondaland is one variant spelling of a name given to the primal supercontinent around 750 million years ago (give or take). You are more likely to find serious articles on it under other spellings, i.e. Gondwonaland (no second 'd'). A lot of sources have taken to calling it Pangaea instead. The basic idea is part of continental drift: under the theory, all the continents have gradually drifted apart to their present positions, and running the record b
  • by external400kdiskette (930221) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:54PM (#14054879)
    "During the trial, Francis-Macrae defied Judge Nicholas Coleman QC by refusing to reveal where he hid up to £425,000, saying Cambridgeshire Police would "steal" it."

    That'd be an outrage if he really ends up with all that, they should make a condition he never gets released unless he says where he hid the cash if he withdrew it or moves it all back into the UK if he transferred his profits offshore. Otherwise he should rot in jail forever.
    • You realize that him remaining in jail for the next 60 years will cost far more than £425,000, correct?

      They should just offer him the equivalent of £425,000 in today's American dollars. If the value of the dollar keeps falling, by the time he's release he'll perhaps be able to buy himself a loaf of bread.

      • "You realize that him remaining in jail for the next 60 years will cost far more than £425,000, correct?" Obviously but that's a flawed arguement. Society keeps people in jail at great cost in theory to protect the population from harm which may or may not end up costing more than keeping whoever in jail. Nobody sane releases criminals from jail to save costs and taking into account human nature it's surely the publics will, most people would rather the government pay 4.25 million incarcerating him fo
      • How can you say he shouldn't be imprisoned for defrauding people? It's a classic con-man scheme, and guess what? It's illegal!
        • "How can you say he shouldn't be imprisoned for defrauding people?"
          You know, I looked to see where the grandparent poster said this, and I'll be damned, I couldn't find it.

          "They should just offer him the equivalent of £425,000 in today's American dollars. If the value of the dollar keeps falling, by the time he's release he'll perhaps be able to buy himself a loaf of bread."
          This is a joke, clearly indicated by the hyperbole at the end of the sentence.

          "Coding with assembly is like playing with
    • If the money is considered stolen property, it will still be illegal for him to possess it once he gets out of jail. So, if they are able to link him to any unaccounted for source of income, he'll probably do more time.

    • I America, the parole board would view that as not take responsiblity for his crime and delay his release for as long as possible. Additionaly our IRS would take a dim view on his not "paying his fair share" as determined by congress and collected through income tax and do everything they could to correct the situation. Normally our courts add court costs, restition and a healthy payment to the victim's rights fund. If he did achieve parole, he would of course have to pay for the parole officer's supervisio
    • "[spammer] defied Judge Nicholas Coleman QC by refusing to reveal where he hid up to £425,000, saying Cambridgeshire Police would 'steal' it."

      That'd be an outrage if he really ends up with all that, they should make a condition he never gets released unless he says where he hid the cash if he withdrew it or moves it all back into the UK if he transferred his profits offshore.

      Nah, they should just watch him like a hawk when he's released. If he goes to get the money, wherever it is, they shoul

  • by D-Fens (176301) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:56PM (#14054892) Homepage
    Wouldn't a death threat be "unsolicited?"
  • by Demerara (256642) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:56PM (#14054898) Homepage
    It was the malevolence of his threats which sunk him.

    Peterborough Crown Court heard he also threatened to fire-bomb the headquarters of the county's trading standards department and petrol-bomb his local police headquarters.

    Just the spamming alone wouldn't have got him such a sentence.

  • by borkus (179118) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @01:58PM (#14054923) Homepage
    Okay, at least his dad. According to the BBC article,

    Francis-Macrae, who made more than £100,000 per week from the scam, spent £28,000 on designer clothes and on learning to fly helicopters

    If any of my offspring are over 18 and wandering around the house in an outfit that's more than my mortgage payment, they best get packing - quickly. Oh, and they need to get that helicopter out of the front yard - it's murder on the azaleas.
  • make him write out all messaging/mail by hand, forever
  • by nicolaiplum (169077) on Thursday November 17, 2005 @02:13PM (#14055075)
    Nominet is hardly a policing organisation. They are operate the registry for uk. and so I expect they got a lot of complaints about him and decided to warn other people.
    Also his main crime was not spamming, but simple fraud: offering to sell that which he was not entitled to sell.
    This is poor sub-editing even by Slashdot, and BBC technology, standards.
  • Email was just the medium, not the message. I get plenty of spam that doesn't break any laws, even spam that's tweaked so much to beat spamassassin that I can't even tell what they're selling, but it's just as annoying as fraud based spam.

    It's like arresting a mafia boss for jaywalking. Why not just pass laws that make the real problem illegal in the first place?

  • "Angry-Little-Black-Hat"? Angry, perhaps, but "black hat"?

    If a blackhatter wanted to take down a server, he would have kept his mouth shut and just done it (and erased his footprint when he sneaked out). He would have also concealed his identity a lot better than what this scumbag did.
  • Why does the BBC report 28,000 pounds spent on flash clothes and learning to fly a helicopter as one line item?

    Did he need the flash clothes so he would be appropriately dressed for helicopter lessons? Were the clothes and helicopter lessons purchased at the same store?

    How come you can't buy Helicopter Lessons at Marks & Sparks, or Tescos, instead having to go to some poshish booteek?

    When are we going to be able to walk into our local McDonalds and hear the magic words "Would you like helicopter lesson

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

Working...