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Male enlargement ads prompt spam rage


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SAN FRANCISCO, California (Reuters) -- Call it spam rage: A Silicon Valley computer programmer has been arrested for threatening to torture and kill employees of the company he blames for bombarding his computer with Web ads promising to enlarge his penis.

In one of the first prosecutions of its kind in the state that made "road rage" famous, Charles Booher, 44, was arrested on Thursday and released on $75,000 bond for making repeated threats to staff of a Canadian company between May and July.

Booher threatened to send a "package full of Anthrax spores" to the company, to "disable" an employee with a bullet and torture him with a power drill and ice pick; and to hunt down and castrate the employees unless they removed him from their e-mail list, prosecutors said.

He used return e-mail addresses including Satan@hell.org.

In a telephone interview with Reuters on Friday, Booher acknowledged that he had behaved badly but said his computer had been rendered almost unusable for about two months by a barrage of pop-up advertising and e-mail.

"Here's what happened: I go to their Web site and start complaining to them, would you please, please, please stop bothering me," he said. "It just sort of escalated ... and I sort of lost my cool at that point."

The Sunnyvale, California man now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for next month on charges of threatening to injure someone. He said he did not own any guns or have access to anthrax.

Booher said the problem stemmed from a program he mistakenly downloaded from the Internet that brought a continuous stream of advertising to his computer.

The object of the Californian's anger was Douglas Mackay, president of DM Contact Management, which works for Albion Medical, a firm advertising the "Only Reliable, Medically Approved Penis Enhancement."

"This went for a long, long time. He seemed really dedicated to this," Mackay said from Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. "He seemed like a guy just crazy enough with nothing to lose that might actually do something."

He said his firm does not send spam but blamed a rival firm which he said routes much of their unsolicited bulk e-mail through Russia and eastern Europe. Mackay said such firms gave a bad name to the penis enhancement business.

In other cases, Internet vigilantes have bombarded spammers with both unsolicited e-mail and regular mail and phone calls, launched attacks on spammers' computers and posted spammers' personal information on the Internet, according to reports.

Separately, lawmakers in Washington said the U.S. House of Representatives was poised to vote for on a measure to outlaw most Internet spam. Lawmakers hope to pass a national anti-spam bill before a much tougher California state law goes into effect on January 1.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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