Spam Victim Takes Own Life

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It’s one of those stories which one would think that only Kafka could dream up, if it weren’t for the fact that the story is true.

Charles Booher was a friendly, unassuming Silicon Valley engineer – like thousands of others in the Valley. However he gained distinction – some would even say notoriety – when the load of spam which he received from Canadian spam firm DM Contact Management pushed him over the edge.

Perhaps Booher, a survivor of testicular cancer, found a particular irony in the onslaught of penis enlargement spam which DM – named after its proprietor Douglas Mackay – sent his way. Perhaps it was the sheer volume which pushed him over the edge. Whatever it was, Booher wasn’t going to take it any more, and expressed his displeasure by sending Mackay email, and leaving him voice mail, in which he graphically detailed exactly how displeased he was. Dismemberment figured prominently in the messages.

The end result was not Mackay ceasing his wicked spamming ways. Instead, Booher was arrested and charged with eight counts which could have landed him in Federal prison for up to five years. He was due in court on January 20th.

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To make matters worse, Booher had recently been through several rounds of unemployment, as he saw the demand for his skill set reduced by the ability of employers to outsource their needs oversees for a third of the payroll cost. And while many cheered his actions against Mackay, understanding Booher’s frustration, prospective employers who Googled him were less than impressed with the pending Federal charges. It is known that at least one such employer did perform such an online search, and that Booher was subsequently rejected for the job.

So it was on a Thursday morning just a couple of weeks ago, and a week before his court date, out of work and facing prison, that Booher had coffee with his wife, left on what was ostensibly a trip to the grocery store, and never returned. His wife later found an envelope he had left with a Mapquest print out, coordinates marked in pencil. There she found him in the back of the car, where he had asphyxiated himself. [Aunty’s sincerest condolences go out to Mrs. Booher.]

During an interview about his case, Booher had said “I just wanted one particular spammer to leave me alone.”

Let’s hope that Mackay has the decency to at least do that, now.

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