April 11, 2005
Microsoft can't deal with Viagra spammer
It's not easy keeping tabs on all the spam kings in the business. Spamhaus.org does an amazing job, but now and then another one pops up out of nowhere.
Case in point: George Merwyn.
According to this new article in the Boca Raton News, Merwyn is the (fake?) Viagra spammer Microsoft sued back in December 2003.
At the time, Microsoft didn't know Merwyn's name. It filed its lawsuit against WebMed-Rx.com, SafeMed-Rx.com, and 50 "John Doe" affiliates. Microsoft said the unidentified spammers spoofed Microsoft return addresses and used proxies to send the spam.
It took a while, but Microsoft finally tracked Merwyn down. Over a year later (Feb. 2005), Microsoft offered to drop the lawsuit for $100,000. But Merwyn refused, according to the Boca paper.
Merwyn reportedly lives in a $2.5 million house with wrought-iron gates and two guard dogs. Yet Spamhaus hasn't even heard of him.
How do you make that much scratch and yet stay off the Rokso list?
Even more perplexing, why not just pay the $100K and be done with it?
Perhaps it was the prospect of never being able to use Microsoft software again?
According to the article, Microsoft’s proposed settlement included "a permanent injunction that would have barred Merwyn and his roughly 50 accomplices, including his wife, from using Microsoft software including MSN internet access and MSN Hotmail."
[Update: Microsoft's anti-spam lawyer Aaron E. Kornblum informs me that the Boca Raton News goofed on this last aspect of the proposed settlement. According to Kornblum, Merwyn was simply barred from violating the terms of service of Microsoft's MSN or Hotmail services. There was no ban on using Microsoft products.]
Posted by brian at April 11, 2005 11:16 PM