What happened? Scottsdale, Ariz. resident Michael Persaud has been indicted on federal fraud charges in Illinois for sending more than 1 million spam emails worldwide by abusing at least nine separate computer networks.
Jurisdiction: The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Gregory J. Haanstad, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; Michael J. Anderson, special agent-in-charge of the FBI's Chicago Office; and R. Justin Tolomeo, special agent-in-charge of the FBI's Milwaukee Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Romero of the Northern District of Illinois and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chmelar of the Eastern District of Wisconsin are representing the government in the criminal case. A status hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21, before U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood.
Charges: Persaud, 36, is facing 10 counts of wire fraud and the possible forfeiture of four computers. Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The indictment was handed down on Dec. 9, 2016, and was ordered unsealed after Persaud was arrested last month in Arizona. Persaud has pleaded not guilty and was ordered released on his own recognizance.
Background: Per a U.S. Department of Justice press release: Persaud is accused of engaging in snowshoe spamming – the act of using multiple IP addresses and domains to send junk email to recipients.
It is alleged that the defendant used a California company called Impact Media LLC as well as other aliases to send out spam that promoted various goods and services, the sales of which earned him commissions.
According to U.S. authorities, Persaud deliberately misrepresented himself to various victim networks, claiming that he would not use their infrastructure to conduct spam operations. Allegedly, after some of these networks terminated his lease for violating policy, Persaud began registering several new networks using IDs, “From Address” fields and payment cards that were fraudulent in nature. He is also accused of “illegally transferring and selling millions of email addresses for the purpose of transmitting spam,” the DOJ release notes.