The federal courthouse in Las Vegas, where Wallace was questioned about his money. Wikimedia Commons
On a warm April morning in 2007, one of the world’s most notorious spammers walked through the doors of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas. Though the Federal Trade Commission was attempting to collect a $4 million judgment against him, Sanford “Spamford” Wallace showed up to his sworn deposition without a lawyer—and without any of the documents required of him.
Wallace, though nominally cooperative, had been nearly impossible to reach. When attorneys from the social network MySpace had sued him weeks before, the process server tasked with delivering legal documents couldn’t make contact with Wallace and eventually went to the OPM Nightclub where Wallace worked weekends as a $400-a-week disc jockey under the name “DJ MasterWeb.” The process server claimed to have approached Wallace at the club before being intercepted by security guards; the lawsuit papers were literally thrown at Wallace in an attempt to get good service on him.
FTC lawyer David Frankel, who was overseeing Wallace courthouse questioning as part of a separate spam case brought by the government, had resorted to telephone calls, FedEx packages, and e-mails to contact Wallace; he even sent a personal messenger on occasion. Despite the extraordinary measures, Frankel didn’t know when he showed up to court that April morning whether Wallace would actually arrive.