Million Dollar Fine As Conscience-Stricken Spammer Switches Sides
Experts at SophosLabs have welcomed news that Microsoft and the State of Texas have been successful in their legal action against a university graduate who admitted sending 25 million spam emails a day at the height of his activities.
Ryan Pitylak, 24, of Austin, has been fined at least one million USD following the civil suits, and is selling his 430,000 USD house, luxury car and other assets to help pay the fine and legal bills. Pitylak’s email campaigns commonly involved spamming out messages promoting low cost mortgages and debt-counselling, and he was at one time rated the world’s fourth worst spammer.
On his personal blog, Pitylak now claims that he has ceased his spamming operations, and is offering his services to internet companies who wish to stop the spam he used to transmit:
‘I am pleased to announce that I am now a part of the anti-spam community, having started an internet security company… that offers my clients advice on systems to protect against spam.
‘Over time I have come to see how I was wrong to think of spam as just a game of cat and mouse with corporate email administrators. I now understand why so much effort is put into stopping it.’
Sophos experts, however, question whether companies will be rushing to take advantage of Pitylak’s experience.
“Spammers like Pitylak have shown themselves to be prepared to break the law in their eagerness to pump out unwanted marketing messages. Some companies may feel uncomfortable about working with someone who has shown a history of behaving unethically, without caring about the consequences for other internet users,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “It is important authorities make it clear that spamming is unacceptable, and show these internet criminals that legitimate rewards cannot be gained on the back of their unsavoury activities.” Spam emails sent by Pitylak were found to break the CAN-SPAM Act, which forbids email marketers from using bogus names or failing to give recipients a legitimate way to unsubscribe themselves.