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U.K.'s "Weaselboy" Scammer, Spammer Gets Six Years

Businesses that complained about his actions were flooded with millions of spam messages in retaliation, and even police were threatened by the man, who worked out of his father's house.
A 23-year-old man called the biggest spammer in Britain was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for selling bogus domain names and threatening to kill anyone who tried to shut down his scam.

After a six-week trial, Peter Francis-Macrae of Cambridgeshire was convicted of defrauding thousands by bombarding them with spam that said he could "pre-register" .eu domain names before they were officially released. In reality, the regulatory body which will manage the domain, EURid, will begin taking some registrations in early December 2005; the domain won't be open to all comers until April 2006.

Francis-Macrae, who went by the nom de plume of "Weaselboy," was found guilty of fraudulent trading, concealing criminal property, threatening to destroy or damage property, blackmail, and making death threats. Businesses that complained about his actions were flooded with millions of spam messages in retaliation, and even police were threatened by Francis-Macrae, who worked out of his father's house.

"Francis-Macrae's stiff sentence sends out a clear message to others who may be tempted to engage in Internet crime," said Carole Theriault, a senior security consultant for U.K.-based Sophos. "The details of how he threatened those who got in the way of his crime spree make harrowing reading."

Recordings of his telephoned death threats were played in court. In one, he told a police switchboard operator that “I’m going to make sure you never answer another phone again as long as you live. My name is Peter Francis-Macrae. I am your worst nightmare.” He threatened to slit the throat of another. According to The Times, Judge Nicholas Coleman told Francis-Macrae in court Wednesday "You are, I think, one of the most vindictive young men I have ever seen."

Francis-Macrae, who was the country's most prolific spammer, allegedly made 100,000 pounds ($172,000) a week, and raked in more than 1.6 million pounds ($2.8 million) altogether. The police are still looking for 1.1 million pounds ($1.9 million) of the loot.

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