An alleged cyber spammer has been indicted on federal fraud charges for sending well over a million spam emails and damaging several computer networks.
Michael Persaud, 36, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is accused of using multiple Internet Protocol addresses and domains – a technique known as “snowshoe spamming” – to transmit spam emails over at least nine networks, according to an indictment returned in federal court in Chicago.
The indictment charges Persaud with ten counts of wire fraud and seeks the forfeiture of four computers. Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Persaud was arrested last month in Arizona and arraigned in Chicago Feb. 7, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered released on his own recognizance. While on bond, he is restricted from traveling outside the District of Arizona, with the exception of making court appearances in Chicago.
The indictment alleges that Persaud sent well over a million spam emails to recipients in the United States and abroad. He often used false names to register the domains, and he created fraudulent “From Address” fields to conceal that he was the true sender of the emails, according to the indictment. The charges also accuse Persaud of illegally transferring and selling millions of email addresses for the purpose of transmitting spam.
The indictment claims Persaud gained access and use of the victim networks by falsely representing that he would not use their systems to send spam, and that he would comply with their policies prohibiting spamming.
In reality, Persaud used a California company called Impact Media LLC and other aliases to send spam on behalf of sellers of various goods and services, the indictment says. Persaud earned commissions for each sale generated by the spam, the indictment adds.
When some of the networks terminated his lease and denied him access to their networks, Persaud used aliases to contract with other networks and in some instances, provided false forms of identification and payment, including a driver’s license and debit card, to support the alias, the indictment states. Persaud’s alleged aliases included the names “Michael Prescott,” “Michael Pearson,” and “Jeff Martinez.”
A status hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21, before U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood in the Northern District of Illinois, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.