The newsgroup was abuzz with word that someone had apparently hacked into the computers of a Tennessee spam operation known as Premier Services, downloaded over one hundred megabytes of data, and posted some of the juicier tidbits at a site he entitled Behind Enemy Lines.
"If you are an anti-spammer looking for an inside peek at the world of spamming, you have just found Fort Knox!" wrote the hacker, who identified himself only as "The Man in the Wilderness."
The hacker's site included scores of pages of chat logs and emails between Premier Services's employees and customers. The messages detailed a variety of shady practices, including pump-and-dump stock scams and AOL password-stealing schemes. The hacker's site, originally hosted at an ad-supported service called FreeWebSites.com, also included an assortment of partially nude photos of some of the company's principals.
Prior to that day in June 2000, Premier Services and its owner, 35-year-old Rodona Garst, were unknown to most anti-spammers. But they would soon become the most notorious instance of retaliatory hacking since Hacker-X targeted Sanford Wallace.
According to the Man in the Wilderness's account of events, he had been the victim of a type of online fraud referred to by anti-spammers as a Joe-job. In early 2000, Garst had forged his domain name in the return address of one of Premier Services's spam runs. As a result of the Joe-job, the hacker's mail server was besieged by thousands of error messages ...