Court documents in the landmark case in Detroit describe a nearly inscrutable puzzle of corporate identities, bank accounts and electronic storefronts in one alleged spam operation.
At one point, investigators said, packages were sometimes delivered to a restaurant, where a greeter accepted them and passed them along to one defendant.
The four are accused of secretly commandeering computers that forward e-mail for some of the nation’s biggest corporations — including Ford Motor Co. — to send millions of junk messages advertising herbal supplements, diet patches and sexual enhancement pills and products.
Other unwitting companies and agencies whose computers were used include Unisys Corp., Amoco Corp., the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the U.S. Army Information Center, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Wednesday. …..
Unraveling the trail of spam took four months. Berg said that because of the use of proxy servers, trying to trace the spam back to the original sender was difficult. …..
In Karlsruhe, Germany, an Internet security expert and activist named Anders Henke runs what he calls a “proxy pot,” a system that simulates a mail proxy but doesn’t actually forward mail. It sits on the Internet, looking vulnerable to the sophisticated scanning software used by spammers to sniff out open proxies.
Starting in early January, the complaint says, Henke’s proxy pot intercepted 5 million attempts from computer accounts linked to the Michigan men.