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Sanford Wallace ( 1968 - )  Category ( Infamous ) [suggest a correction]
 

Since most computer users hate spam, it stands to reason that they would also hate Sanford Wallace. It never seemed to bother him.

When he was tagged with the nickname "Spamford" for the flood of unsolicited advertising he had unleashed, Wallace's reaction was to register "Spamford.com" as a trademark.

He started out in 1991, bombarding hundreds of thousands of reluctant recipients with reams of junk faxes. When that practice was outlawed in 1991, he switched to the Internet, forming the company Cyber Promotions.

That endeavor was lucrative for Wallace for awhile, but it didn't take long for the opposition to mobilize. In 1996, AOL sued Cyber Promotions for sending junk e-mails to its subscribers, and won. The decision in a U.S. Federal Court in Pennsylvania said in part:

"Even if AOL and Cyber can somehow be viewed as 'competitors' in the market for providing direct marketing advertising material via electronic transmission to AOL's subscribers, AOL has the right to control the advertisements which reach its own subscribers. After all these individuals became AOL subscribers by paying AOL a monthly fee. As is evident from the exhibits Cyber attaches to its Memorandum, AOL has no problem accepting advertisements from advertisers as long as these advertisers pay AOL and therefore provide AOL with a source of revenue. Cyber, however, refuses to pay AOL for sending approximately 1.9 million e-mail advertisements to AOL servers each day.3 In short, the federal antitrust laws simply do not forbid AOL from excluding from its system advertisers like Cyber who refuse to pay AOL any fee (as opposed to those advertisers who do pay a fee) for their advertising on AOL's system. See Monsanto Co. v. Spray-Rite Service Corp., 465 U.S. 752, 761, 104 S.Ct. 1464, 1469, 79 L.Ed.2d 775 (1984) (a "business...has a right to deal, or refuse to deal, with whomever it likes, as long as it does so independently.")."

After a series of appeals also failed, Wallace announced in 1998 that he was quitting the spam business. This, apparently, was short-lived -- in 1999, Wallace's Internet connection was discontinued when he was found once again to be spamming.

Around the same time, Wallace filed a lawsuit against Mark Welch, a California-based anti-spam activist.

"Wallace, of Richboro, Pa., said in a suit filed Friday in Philadelphia that Mark Welch, of Pleasanton, Calif., a longtime anti-Spam crusader, complained to Wallace's Internet service provider that he had received Spam from Wallace's new company, SmartBot.NET. Welch has a Web site named Adbility, which the suit said is involved in Internet marketing but which Welch insisted is dedicated to consumer advocacy.

"According to the suit, Wallace's new company, which opened for business in September 1998, sends advertising only to computer users who say they would like to receive ad information in specific categories. And Welch subscribed to the service, the suit said."

A month after filing the suit, Wallace abandoned it. A year later, a new Wallace company, SmartBOT, was hit with a Federal Trade Commission suit for infecting computers with spyware and then sending out a mass e-mail offering to fix the problem for $30.

In the meantime, Wallace's activities had helped inspire a new generation of spam blocking devices.

The most damaging broadsides to Wallace's ship of spam, however, came from social media sites MySpace and Facebook, both of which received $2.5 million judgments against him. In both case, Wallace was accused of creating thousands of fake profiles, which were then used to direct users into some of Wallace's Websites.

In June of 2009, Wallace -- still unrepentant -- filed for bankruptcy.


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