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A heck of a year for Francis Macrae

Britain’s top spammer known on the web as Weaselboy has had quite a productive 2004 but it looks set to end very badly for the 23 year old.

The gifted computer enthusiast who as a teenager swapped games equipment on the internet has built himself quite a reputation and features amongst the Spamhaus top 200 Internet Pests in the world.

This time last year Macrae bit off more than he could chew when he created an elaborate e-mail scam resulting in Cambridge Constabulary’s Switchboard being bombarded by over 2,500 calls a day. Tom Lloyd, Chief Constable was quick to arrest Macrae who faced court in March of this year.

Not to be put off however, Macrae carried on trading from his company Ultra Technologies and continued a tumultuous year. The exact scale of his vast spamming operation is incalculable, but he is suspected of having access to millions of e-mail addresses to promote a variety of products.

Macrae manages to operate with impunity from a quiet market town because of a loophole in the law. He cannot be prevented from sending out junk messages because a new British anti-spam law permits unsolicited e-mails for business purposes.

But it’s not just junk mail that has brought notoriety. One of Macrae’s most elaborate scams involved e-mails urging people to register for “.eu” domain names by sending money to a Cambridge address. EUrid, the European Commission’s official registry of internet domain names, said that Mr Francis-Macrae’s business was not an accredited registrar. There were more than 100 protests from people who paid as much as £610 each. Barclaycard immediately suspended the business’s merchant services account and froze funds so that money could be paid back to complainants.

Then Macrae got himself on the wrong side of registry Nominet, who won an injunction against the serial spammer. The company decided to take Weaselboy to court after he sent them domain re-registration forms passing himself off as a connected party. The company claims that he used the Whois domain to get details of its customers, intending to mislead them for financial gain.

More recently a warrant for his arrest was issued after he failed to turn up to a hearing at Huntington County Court. Macrae was charged with five criminal counts from threats to kill, sending offensive messages and threatening to burn a trading standards office that was investigating him for a variety of Internet scams.

Just weeks later, finally appearing in court, he faced a series of other charges including blackmail, transferring criminal property, criminal damage and running a business for fraudulent purposes. As Christmas looms Weaselboy is likely to place his mince pie for Santa by the cell door, and perhaps pay the computer room a visit or two courtesy of her majesty.

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