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Spammer Settles For $1 Million, Goes Straight

A 24-year-old Texas spammer who settled lawsuits with Microsoft and the state of Texas has seen the truth and the light and says he's launching an anti-spam security service.
A 24-year-old Texas spammer who settled lawsuits with Microsoft and the state of Texas has seen the truth and the light, and says he's launching an anti-spam security service.

Ryan Pitylak, who graduated from the University of Texas last month, admitted sending 25 million e-mails a day during the peak of his spam operation in 2004. For his troubles, he was fined more than $1 million, which forced him to sell off assets that included a $430,000 Texas home and a 2005 BMW. He was also banned from sending spam.

Although the settlement was reached last month, details were not publicized by either Microsoft or the office of the Texas attorney general. According to the Chicago Tribune, information on Pitylak and his case were discovered during a review of public files.

Pitylak's spam touted low-cost mortgages, extended car warranties, and debt-counseling services, said the Tribune. In 2005, Pitylak was listed as the world's fourth-worst spammer by the Spamhaus.org anti-spam site.

Saturday, Pitylak claimed that he'd changed his ways.

"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," he wrote on his personal blog to introduce a new venture, Pitylak Security. "I now understand why so much effort is put into stopping it."

He said he's turned from the dark side. "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."

His Pitylak Security Web site notes that "Ryan Pitylak has spent several years in the email industry, and as an industry leader has learned all the details about how email is spent."

Among the services he offers is one where he says he'll set up a spamming server that will "try to 'beat' your filters." He will use data accumulated by the "test" to outline weaknesses and recommend fixes.

"Ryan Pitylak know[s] every way/style of mailing, so we can try everything," the site reads.

According to WHOIS records, Pitylak registered the "pitylaksecurity.com" domain in April 2006.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing