It looks like Sanford Wallace is up to his old tricks. Wallace, the so-called “King of Spam,” is a portly 29-year-old Internet marketer, who in his heyday boasted of sending 25 million junk e-mails a day from his Dresher, PA-based company, Cyber Promotions. Wallace began his career in the junk fax business. When angered recipients of this unwanted flood of advertising complained to federal authorities that, in addition to tying up their phone lines and fax machines, it consumed their own supply of fax paper and toner, junk faxes were outlawed by Congress with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991. Meanwhile, Wallace simply moved his business into Cyberspace. There, he proceeded to clutter computer users’ mailboxes with ads hawking make-money-fast scams, pyramid schemes and bulk e-mailing services.
Going Back To His Roots, Junk Faxes
His obnoxious behavior has resulted in his being kicked off the Internet by more than 20 different service providers, leaving him virtually banished from the Internet. Now that Cyber Promotions has been unplugged for more than three months, Wallace has apparently returned to spewing out junk faxes despite the federal prohibition.
In recent weeks, a number of Philadelphians have begun receiving unsolicited fax advertisements from companies that can be linked to Wallace. LunchCast, Inc. sends faxes of lunch menus “on behalf of several restaurants,” including Bain’s Deli at 30th Street Station and the Khyber in Old City. According to the Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau, LunchCast was incorporated on Sept. 30, 1997, with a Dresher address (the same as Cyber Promotions) and lists Sanford Wallace as the CEO, secretary and treasurer. Another junk fax, advertising rock salt, was sent by S & L Products, Inc. S & L Products was incorporated last October—same address, same corporate officers.
A third, which advertises long-distance telephone service, was transmitted from GTMI Inc. Although there is no corporate registration for GTMI Inc., Global Technology Marketing Inc. was incorporated on Dec. 4, 1997, and is registered at the same address. It also identifies Wallace as the main corporate officers.
(Interestingly, GTMI is the same company name that Wallace has claimed will be online soon to provide him with Internet access to continue his bulk e-mail marketing. Last week, a Web site touting such services by GTMI appeared briefly on the Internet. It was disconnected last Friday after complaints from the Internet community put pressure on the service provider.)
Wallace did not return several calls to five different phone numbers. Ralph Jacobs, the attorney who represented him on the e-mail complaints, says he knows “nothing” about the faxes and could not comment about them.
By returning to the junk fax business, Wallace has exposed himself to considerable financial risk, but no jail time. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (Title 47 of the U.S. Code, section 227 [b] ) allows citizens to press civil charges against senders of unsolicited commercial faxes. Recipients may be awarded $500 per incident, or triple damages if it can be shown that the sender willfully or knowingly violated the law.
Among those who have received Wallace’s junk faxes is Philadelphia artist Ray King and businessman Walter Rich. Another recipient is Matthew Mitchell, a local biophysicist and fervid anti-spam advocate, who has claimed responsibility for having Cyber Promotions’ Better Business Bureau membership revoked last year. When his lawyer contacted Wallace earlier this month to inform him of his violations, Wallace responded that he and Mitchell have “an existing business relationship.” Mitchell hopes to donate any damages he might receive to his church. But Wallace balks at the possibility of a settlement.
“I hope that this latest effort is not an attempt to extort money from me,” Wallace wrote to Mitchell’s attorney, Bruce McCullough, “which would be consistent with other documented illegal actions by your client.”
“His sending junk faxes is a clear violation of the law. I assume he [Wallace] is just trying to blow smoke and scare off my client,” states McCullough. “I don’t think he’s as misinformed about the law as he’s trying to put across.”
As for the allegations of “illegal actions” by Mitchell: “His letter seemed to me to be sort of silly, so I haven’t brought up with my client the issue of libel. Yet.”