Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

"Buffalo Spammer" Gets 3.5 to 7 Years 671

jfruhlinger writes "Howard Carmak, aka the 'Buffalo spammer,' has been sentenced to jail time for his spamming activities. Interestingly, the conviction was not for spamming per se, but rather stealing someone's identity, which he then used to launch his spam messages."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

"Buffalo Spammer" Gets 3.5 to 7 Years

Comments Filter:
  • by KoriaDesevis ( 781774 ) <> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:18PM (#9269305) Journal

    From the article:

    The jail sentence is the maximum allowed under the law, due to Carmack's prior felony conviction for fraud in a federal case involving fake money orders, McCarthy said.

    7 years is the maximum for identity theft? That actually seems a little light. I would think they'd lock him away for 15-20 for something like that. Theft + potentially ruining someone else's credit and/or reputation.

    • by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:05PM (#9270143)
      I don't think 7 years is light for an identity theft case. I do think 7 years is light for a repeat offendor though.
    • I don't agree. Following my policy of having the punishment fit the crime, the ends were financial. The heaviness of the punishment imposed on Carmack should have been the fines, not years of his life.

      Don't get me wrong; the man's a scumsac and a general nutcocker. But even so, he's a person with irreplaceable years of life, who can reform as we should hope anyone can. Financial judgments against him could have chased him for decades, which seems sufficient punishment.

      Italy is seeking to jail MP3
      • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) * on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:13PM (#9270933) Homepage
        Bah. I'm very much opposed to lengthy jail sentences for nonviolent victimless crimes, but when it comes to fraud and identity theft in the service of a money-making scheme, I think jail time is an appropriate deterrent. If you just fine people for stuff like this, they'll keep doing it as long as the amount of the fine and their perceived likelihood of getting caught are offset by the profits they're making, just as many corporations see government fines for their illegal actions as part of the cost of doing business. If anything, jail time is much more of a deterrent for the types of crimes perpetrated by weasily fraudulent types than it is for tough violent offenders.
      • by thedillybar ( 677116 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:34PM (#9271159)
        The New York State case followed a civil suit against Carmack by EarthLink that resulted in a US$16 million award against Carmack in May, 2003.

        It looks like he got fined as well as jailtime. Good thing, because he probably made enough to live the rest of his life on.

        1. Spam.
        2. Profit.
        3. If you're unlucky (probably less than 1% of spammers), get locked up for 4 years.
        4. Retire to a mansion on the beach.

        Sounds like a good deal to me.

      • Aggregate costs (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Camel Pilot ( 78781 )
        he's a person with irreplaceable years of life

        It is nice to meet a compassionate individual here on slashdot but keep in mind how many aggregate "irreplaceable years of life" this scumbag cost others in filling up people's inbox with junk or having to spend time setting up filters, etc. !
    • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:43PM (#9270622)

      >7 years is the maximum for identity theft? That actually seems a little light.

      How about seven years and the victims get to pick his cellmate?
      • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @04:15PM (#9270957)
        > > 7 years is the maximum for identity theft? That actually seems a little light.
        > How about seven years and the victims get to pick his cellmate?

        How about three years... but he has to opt out of every ass-raping.

        Of course, if he gets out in three years and claims that it wasn't rape, his cellmates can claim that he opted in anyways, and just forgot about it.

  • by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:18PM (#9269306) Homepage Journal
    It serves him right for stealing identities. I am still in counseling for getting that email from my grandma telling me to enlarge my penis.
  • by YankeeInExile ( 577704 ) * on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:18PM (#9269307) Homepage Journal
    The jail sentence is the maximum allowed under the law, due to Carmack's prior felony conviction for fraud in a federal case involving fake money orders, McCarthy said.

    And from another article ...

    Carmack is accused of stealing credit cards and identities to fraudulently buy 343 EarthLink accounts to send shady and unwanted e-mail for such things as herbal therapy. Prosecutors said they do not yet know how he acquired the credit card information. He is also accused of banking fraud and other illegal activities arising from his spam operation, which authorities believe he operated on his own.

    But your honor, I was trying to run an HONEST business of stealing peopele's time and identitiy! Now I'll have to go back to mail fraud!

    I hope he enjoys his term in state pound-me-up-the-ass prison. This is the only thing that will curtail the (domestic) spam problem. Harsh, painful prison sentences.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:24PM (#9270389)
      They just need to be there. SPAM is so popular because, until now, it was a more or less no risk bussiness both finincally and legally. It cost very little to get in to and you weren't going to get in trouble for what you were doing. To lessen the amout of spammers, we just need to make it unattractive. Doesn't mean we need to lock them up for life (appealing though that may sound), just a reasonable prison sentence combine with seizing all their ill gotten gains.

      Most spammers will then quit. These aren't hardened, fear nothing, criminals we are talking about, they are sleazy bussiness men that see this as an easy, low risk way to make a buck. Show them it's not low risk, most of them will knock it off.

      There will still be some, of course, there is always somebody stupid enough to try something, but I think it can be kept to a minimum, in the US at least (which is where the majority of it starts anyhow).
  • He'll surely need a large amount of cigarettes and contraband as dowry for his marriage to Big Bubba.
  • by Omega ( 1602 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:19PM (#9269325) Homepage
    He also announced he planned to spam his appeal to every court in the country.
  • On the first day of the prison, either beat the crap out of someone, or become someone's bitch....

    Sorry couldn't resist.

  • Good... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hookedup ( 630460 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:20PM (#9269341)
    The old cop trick, cant get em for what the biggest problem is, get them for what you can.

    Should be this way more often, arrest spammers for using machines they have no proper access to, not for just for spamming.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) * on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:20PM (#9269353) Journal
    Everybody, sing along, loud enough so that Howard can hear you all the way over in the Erie County Holding Center!

    Nah nah... nah nah nah nah... hey hey hey... good-BYE!

    When I read that Howard Carmack told Earthlink, "Nothing is in my name, so you'll never catch me," all I could think was, you arrogant, silly man. These are government agents and corporate attorneys that you're up against. You're an overweight criminal in his mid-30s who lives in a shack in Buffalo. I think they're gonna catch you, and right quick.

    Sure enough, they did. In addition to his prison time, Carmack has a multi-million-dollar judgment against him from Earthlink for his misuse of their network.

    Have fun in prison, Howard!
  • by Begemot ( 38841 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:22PM (#9269373)
    ..."enlarge your ... today", 'cause he's not gonna like it.
  • That's how most of the old time gangsters were taken down as well. Since its hard to get people to speak up about the racketerring, and the killing, etc. Just get them for tax evasion (how do you argue with numbers!). Same here, can't get them for SPAM, get them for something thats easy to prove! YEAH...
  • Because he didn't get nailed for the act of spamming but some other related offense that means that others may not be a deterred.
  • ...of an old case I read about in Cliff Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg.

    A cracker was convicted in Canada in the 80s of "stealing electricity" instead of breaking into a computer.
  • conviction time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kallahar ( 227430 ) <> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:22PM (#9269385) Homepage
    "The jail sentence is the maximum allowed under the law, due to Carmack's prior felony conviction for fraud in a federal case involving fake money orders, McCarthy said."

    Hopefully this implies that the government is realizing that most spammers are already criminals, email is just a new venue to commit the fraud.
  • that he wasnt arrested for spamming. But eventually enough of these spammers will be arrested (for one reason or another), and hopefully a lot less will spam. Never is spam going to be completly gone, but it will stop all the little small time spammers, and just leave it for the big fish.

    Or at least I hope. No Spam is good.
  • by wmeyer ( 17620 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:23PM (#9269395)
    The sentence is unfortunately light, but the precedent is nice to see.
  • by GPLDAN ( 732269 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:24PM (#9269410)
    Capone went to prison (Alcatraz) on tax evasion. I'd love to see the IRS audit all spammers they can get ahold of. It might drive them offshore, but then we might have a chance at the ISP level to blacklist IP ranges for SMTP traffic.

    SPF is a good idea, I get tired of that checklist that says why your idea won't work. It's pedantic and discourages good ideas from being discussed.

    If SPAM is allowed to thrive offshore, I see a time when service providers like AT&T are asked to track SMTP and provide governments the figures for - you guessed it - tariffs.
  • Cellmate (Score:4, Funny)

    by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:24PM (#9269414) Homepage
    Here's hoping that his cellmate took a steady supply of penis enlargement pills and herbal viagra.

  • by CSG_SurferDude ( 96615 ) <<wedaa> <at> <>> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:24PM (#9269420) Homepage Journal

    Shouldn't they have executed him like they do virus writers? []

  • isn't really's identity theif get jail time. No news here...move along folks.
  • by ad0gg ( 594412 )
    At first I thought the government was finally cracking down on spamming but in reality its just simple identity theft. He would have been treated the same if he was using identity theft for other activities. I'm glad he's in jail though, but just wished it was for spamming.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:25PM (#9269440)

    These days, it's a truth that most spammers have to break other laws to try to get their spam out. It's not like the old days of open relays and a trusting email network. Now, we have worm exploits, stolen identities, account phishing, hacked boxes...the list goes on and on.

    We can pat ourselves on the back here, I think. Now that we're as a community becoming aware of the spam problem and doing something about it (like closing down open relays and blocking those who don't), spammers now have to break other laws to get their crap through.

    And that makes them targets for prosecution. So, let's all give ourselves a round of applause here. If you closed an open relay, or wiped out a worm, you contributed to this!

    Let's all keep up the good work.


  • Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:25PM (#9269441) Homepage Journal
    Burn the jerk.

    But I have mixed feelings on this. If it was 3.5-7 for spamming, I would certainly say that is appropriate, but for identity theft? This is something that RUINS peoples lives. In a lot of cases, the vitims propogate their anguish to loved ones etc... and some even go as far as committing suicide. Actually, it stinks of the same horror as rape... you come out the other side ruined and broken... and 7 years isnt sufficient.

    I personally believe we need to get things back in perspective. If you destroy someones life, whether physically, or otherwise, you should lose yours. You arent fit for our society. BURN.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:08PM (#9270187) Homepage Journal
      Didn't we just go through this? All this macho GW Bush "Bring it on" wannabe talk isn't going to do anything but get people killed.

      If the death penalty applies to spam, and someone might get caught for spamming, then they may as well just go kill someone while they are at it. Maybe kill the witnesses. It can't increase the severity of the penalty, so why not?

      Part of justice is appropriate punishments. Walking with a swagger and carrying a noose might impress people who failed to graduate high school, but it doesn't make us any safer, or freer.

  • Some of the longest jail sentences in US history were the result of convictions for stealing US mail: one year per piece of mail stolen.

    It's a good thing for this guy that sentencing for spam doesn't work like that: he supposedly sent 800 million emails using the two identities he stole.

    Then again, it wasn't a spam law under which he was convicted and sentenced. But put a few spammers away for 800 million years, and it might help in the neverending fight.

    /"You get out of jail about when the Sun has ex

  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:26PM (#9269450) Homepage
    I am glad this guy was caught and convicted, and I'm glad it wasn't for spamming. It always amazes me how people want new laws targetting spam, but most of what the worst spammers do is already against the law and they can be targetted for that. Advertising fraudulent products is against the law. Pyramid schemes are against the law. Hacking someone's system and sending email from there is illegal. I have no problem with spam that doesn't the law in the sending. If you have a legitmate email account and send email from it, and don't make false claims, then you are using the email system as intended.

    If you want to go after spammers, there are plenty you can go after suing existing laws. We don't need new laws specifically for spam anymore than we need new laws specifically for music sharers. Use the existing laws.
  • Identity theft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jroop ( 772952 )
    It certainly would appear that identity theft is perhaps the best way to prosecute these spammers. If they are not using their own address, then they are stealing the use of someone elses. If they can successfully prosecute a series of these cases, spammers may be forced to use their real addresses. At least the ethical ones... hahahahah.. sorry

    For what its worth, MD just increased the penalties for spammers.

  • I really couldn't be happier with the way this is turning out. I hate spam as much as the next guy, but all of this is leading to a lot of legislation I'm not sure I want there. Thats a matter of opinion and I don't truly want to debate. What IS true here without a doubt is that many spammers are engaging in illegal activities in addition to spamming. Spammers are BAD people and there are things they deserve to go to jail for other than that.
  • Wouldn't it be considered fraud to make an email appear from someone other than the real sender or on behalf of the real sender? It is theft to steal or hide behind another persons ID as your own.

  • "Why can't you be more like your brother John, Harold? Simulating bloody massarcres and building amateur ICBMs: that's normal! The viagra adds in the neighbors mailboxes have to stop!"
  • when spammers get the same penalty as Virus writers [].

    What... you mean they weren't serious about the death penalty? Maaaan... why you gotta be teasing us like that!
  • Often here we see that new technology doesn't necessarily require new laws. Arresting and charging a spammer using someone else's identity to avoid being caught and held responsible is a good way to round these people up. It avoids the free speech issues completely.

  • I'd rather see him get busted for actually spamming, but if its his low-down and dirty tactics for doing the spamming that got him busted, then Kudos to law enforcement for catching him.
  • As long as spamming is profitable to SOME person in power, it will continue to dodge the legal obstacles people try to set up for spamming. However, it was good that this guy got bagged in SOME manner, even if it was not directly related to spamming per se.
  • Is that he can find out first hand if any of his fellow prison residents have purchased his penile-enlargement or impotence products!

  • Buffalo Spammer won't you come out tonight.
    Come out tonight.
    Come out tonight.
    Buffalo Spammer won't you come out tonight.
    Dance by the light of the moon.

    (Argh! Now I have to go take a shower...)
  • There is something wrong when one has to resort to "identity theft" laws in order to jail someone for sending out over 800 million spam e-mails.

    But, this trial and sentencing does prove wrong the commonly voiced arguments that anti-spam laws can't work because it will be impossible to catch spammers and because they are outside of the U.S. This guy spammed. He was in the U.S. He was caught, tried, and jailed. The only flaw is that they didn't have an anti-spam law under which to prosecute him.
  • It's probably a lot harder for them to collect evidence on the spam and verify that it violates YOU-CAN-SPAM. Since there was well-defined crime here, it's probably just fine that they go after him for it.

    Theoretically the people whose identity was stolen should be able to sue him for fraud / defamation of character / etc., but it's not likely that he's got huge quantities of money around if he's paid Earthlink any of the $16M civil judgement they got.

  • I think I speak for everyone when I say, SUCK IT DOWN, BIATCH! I'll be sure to hang up on you when you phone me from your new telemarketing job in prison, for $0.35/hr.

    Or better yet, I'll keep you on the line and ask you if you want a free University diploma!
  • Earthlink (Score:3, Informative)

    by squidfrog ( 765515 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:31PM (#9269560) Homepage
    Here's [] the original Earthlink case.
  • The article says he got the sentence for identity theft, not spamming. So while we can't execute him, we can blame him for those asinine CitiBank commercials with the overdubbed voices.
  • Ah, here we go. Cue the threads about how this is not a global solution and won't make any difference in the long run.

    But... like it or not, the RIAA seem to have scared would-be mp3 swappers off the P2P networks with their heavy handed tactics - perhaps this will at least make would-be spammers think twice?
  • He gets to use email in prison, but instead of using spam filtering software, he can only use the opt-out link at the bottom of each message.
  • When you engage in illegal or unethical activity, it becomes easier and easier to do slightly more unethical/illegal things until you're doing really STUPID things, and get caught. I would laugh at him, but I'mm better than that ... no, no I'm not.. hahahaha - dork.
  • This is stupid. Do people actually think that sentencing one guy to jail will deter the other thousands of spammers, many of whom aren't even subject to the same laws?

    Even if it does succeed on a measurable scale, it'll just make those remaining to send spam that much richer.
  • Yay! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ratfactor ( 15886 )

    Anytime, anywhere, when a spammer gets jail time, a death sentence, raped, shot, stabbed, beaten, pursued by goblins, eaten by robot men or robot dogs, burned, molested by snakes, bitten by wolves, dipped in acid, exsanguinated, trampled by cattle, or lost at sea...

    ...Ratfactor smiles!
  • Say what you will of New York, but that Elliot Spitzer gets things done. He'll be getting my vote when he's up for reelection.

    And I'm not surprised that Howard Carmack is in Buffalo. There isn't much to do there unless you like cold weather and hanging out at Wal-Mart. At least he had a hobby!
  • How he got caught. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Valejo ( 689967 ) <> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:33PM (#9269601) Homepage
    How he got caught. []
  • Well, he's a felon for doing fake money orders, and then he gets involved in identity theft. He gets caught on both accounts. Not a smart spammer.

    Not only that but he lost a suit to Earthlink for $16 million.

    I'm glad they're starting to do something about spammers (although this is starting off with the identity theft). Does anybody know about the other case versus earthlink?

    I hope this is a start to shutting these people down. Yeah I know wishful thinking, but I hate to see such a useful tool get sh
  • This is more proof that most "new" crimes can be adequately prosecuted with existing legislation.

    -- []

  • Working yet?
  • Shit, now they're never going to release Doom 3.
  • ... this had, as the the article and the blurb mention, nothing to do with the federal CAN SPAM Act []. It was rather based on the NY state attorney general's office pursuing the case (rather aggresively, if I may say so).

    What the article doesn't mention is that Carmack was also indicted and convicted on 14 counts of forgery and falsifying business records.

    Again, it's important to note that the conviction had little to nothing to do with him spamming or his using any electronic form of communication at all

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:38PM (#9269699)
    Carmak, in his jail cell for the first night of his long sentence, with "Tyree," or "Bubba," or whoever; specifics are not important, just that the individual is large, mean, and notoriously maladjusted. It is now lights-out, and quiet falls over the prison.

    As Carmak cowers under the covers of the lower bunk...

    "I bet you don't want ME to have a bigger penis now, do you, boy?"
  • Free as in speach... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:45PM (#9269852) Homepage
    "Interestingly, the conviction was not for spamming per se, but rather stealing someone's indentity, which he then used to launch his spam messages."

    That's because as of yet there are no laws against sending email. One person's spam is another's free speach.

  • by Nuclear Elephant ( 700938 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:49PM (#9269920) Homepage
    Meanwhile in Jail, inmates have added him to their "My new Bitch" list. Carmak has complained repeatedly that their unsubscribe feature is both inhumane and doesn't work, which has led to arthritis in his right hand.
  • this is a little (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:50PM (#9269935) Homepage Journal
    Yas I read the article. He has a prior felonies, and he stole 2 people's identity.
    from the article, it seems like he used the identites to send spam. Not exactly devastating. If he had used thoose ID's to charge credit cards, buy a car, etc.. then a couple of years in prison would be adequate.

    Considering how full our prisons are, and how tight state budgets are, perhaps there could be better solutions? Community service springs to mind.
    He should also be responsible for undoing harm to the people whose identities he stole. We all know what a pain it is to call the credit card companies, and find out what we need to do to prove it wasn't us and get any marks removed from are credit history.
  • One down... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PoisonousPhat ( 673225 ) <foblich@netsca[ ]net ['pe.' in gap]> on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:51PM (#9269948)
    200+ to go:

    "The Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) [] database collates information and evidence on known hard-line spam operations that have been terminated by a minimum of 3 consecutive Service Providers for serious spam offenses.

    200 Known Spam Operations responsible for 90% of your spam.

    90% of spam received by Internet users in North America and Europe can be traced via redirects, hosting locations of web sites, domains and aliases, to a hard-core group of around 200 known spam operations, almost all of whom are listed in the ROKSO database. These spam operations consist of an estimated 500-600 professional spammers loosely grouped into gangs ("spam gangs"), the vast majority of whom are operating illegally, and who move from network to network seeking out Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") known for lax enforcing of anti-spam policies."

  • by neiffer ( 698776 ) * on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:52PM (#9269970) Homepage getting the mob with tax fraud, right?
  • nabbing the scum bag (Score:3, Interesting)

    by malia8888 ( 646496 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:52PM (#9269977)
    Carmack was found guilty in April by a jury in Erie County, New York, on 14 counts, including charges that he stole the identity of two Buffalo-area residents, which he then used to send out more than 800 million spam messages, the attorney general's office said.

    This announcement does my heart good. Howard Carmak got his due for his actions though not directly just like Al Capone received a sentence for U.S. tax evasion instead of murder, racketeering etc.

    When a person is a scum bag in one area this trait seems to wash over into other facets of their lives.

  • by WombatControl ( 74685 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:54PM (#9270013)

    Can we please execute him too? []

    In all seriousness, we need to have some sort of crackdown on spam. The levels of pure crap are increasing faster than even a combination of SpamAssassin and Thunderbird's Bayesian filtering can catch up with.

    Throwing slimebags like Carmak and Alan Ralsky in jail for a few years might help reduce the spam levels. While the servers may be in China, the ones running these large spam operations are right here in the US. It won't stop spam, but it will at least reduce the flow.

  • by jlowery ( 47102 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:56PM (#9270053)
    Is he serving time in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Corrections Center?
  • nerd crime (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawngnome ( 573912 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @02:59PM (#9270067)
    I bet those murderers and thugs in jail will love this guy...
    spammer guy: b-b-but Im a marketer!
    thug #1: shuddup you in my world tubby!
    thug #2: whoo! fresh meat!
  • Setting a precident? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deputydink ( 173771 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:00PM (#9270082)
    This act, more than any other piece of targeted legislation at spamming may help stem the flow of spam.

    While the crime is not entirely related to spamming, it shows that local law enforcement is getting "clever" with its prosecution, in the same way federal authorities, when unable to get felony convictions like murder against organized crime bosses turned to tax evasion and fraud.


  • by bcolflesh ( 710514 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:01PM (#9270093) Homepage
    ...his cellmates introduce the "Buffalo Spammer" to the "Cleveland Steamer".
  • by FlyingOrca ( 747207 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @03:07PM (#9270168) Journal
    So here's the question. I RTFA, and there are no details on the "identity theft" thing. Does 0wn1ng someone's underdefended box count as "identity theft", and if so, is that what they got this guy for?

    And - more to the point - if not, could the law be construed that way? In other words, can we prosecute spammers for impersonating customers of fooISP by using their zombied boxes to spam?

    Just a thought.
  • by Rai ( 524476 ) on Thursday May 27, 2004 @07:06PM (#9272475) Homepage
    Now he can get some hands-on experience helping men enlarge their penises.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.