British spammer Peter Francis-Macrae has been sentenced to six years in prison for fraud and other crimes.
The 23 year-old, who went by the online moniker 'Weaselboy', is said to have earned more than £100,000 a week by selling bogus .eu internet domain names from his father's house in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. He spent his fortune on designer clothes and helicopter lessons.
Businesses that complained about being sold the domain names were mail-bombed with millions of junk emails, and investigating police officers were told that their headquarters would be petrol-bombed.
Francis-Macrae was found guilty at Peterborough Crown Court of fraudulent trading, concealing criminal property, threatening to destroy or damage property, blackmail, and making death threats. Investigators claim that he has refused to divulge where he has hidden more than £1.1m.
The prolific spammer sent unsolicited emails to thousands of people offering to pre-register .eu domain names before they were released by the regulatory body.
"Peter Francis-Macrae's stiff sentence sends out a clear message to others who may be tempted to engage in internet crime. The details of how he threatened those who got in the way of his crime spree make harrowing reading," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos.
"We hope that other young people will think twice before making the mistakes this man made, and not be tempted by a life of cyber-crime. The public can consider themselves safer now that Francis-Macrae is behind bars."
Judge Nicholas Coleman said in his summing up: "You deceived hundreds of people of countless thousands of pounds of their money.
"When investigated, following the countless complaints of your misdeeds, you resorted to threats to kill and a threat to set fire to property, and ultimately blackmail.
"Whoever stood in the way of your criminality became subject to abuse and threats. You are, I think, one of the most vindictive young men I have ever seen."
Detective Constable Jody Faro told reporters after the hearing that police had dealt with more than 2,000 complaints from around the globe about Francis-Macrae's business dealings.
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