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Spam Kings by Brian S McWilliams

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Hoffman Catches Tom Cowles

After a brief stakeout, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations finally decided to make its move. In the late morning of Thursday, March 7, 2002, five unmarked cars pulled up outside 1133 Corporate Drive, a low-slung white building in an upscale corporate park in suburban Toledo. A dozen agents from the BCI and Federal Bureau of Investigation piled out, some with guns drawn. They were looking for Thomas Carlton Cowles, president of Empire Towers Corporation.

Karen Hoffmann watched it all go down from her car across the street. She couldn't clearly make out what was happening, but she snapped a few photographs anyway as the BCI agents swarmed the building's front entrance. Earlier that morning the officer in charge had called to give her a heads-up that the raid was scheduled for eleven. It was her reward for assisting law enforcement in investigating and locating Cowles.

Hoffmann was the one who first discovered that Cowles had moved into the 1133 Corporate Drive location. A few months back she had spotted the address in some Internet domains registered to Cowles. She visited the building several times to take photographs, which she posted at "As the Spamhaus Turns," her web site dedicated to Cowles and his spam operation. One of the photos showed the front door of the office, which had a paper sign taped to it that read "Leverage Communications," the name of one of Cowles's companies. In subsequent reconnaissance trips, she had also spotted a dark green ...

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