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Volvo lover faces jail over online blackmail allegations

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A Volvo lover may be looking at two years in jail after trying to blackmail an online publisher for one of the Swedish vehicles.

Mature student Nelson Holcomb was arrested on campus at Colorado State University on Wednesday. He is accused of trying to extort cash, free downloads, and a Volvo car from a New Jersey company which sells digital books over the Internet.

The publisher, not named by federal authorities, received 10 threatening emails from an account in the name of Nelson Holcomb in April and May, according to FBI court papers. The emails claimed the sender had figured out a way of downloading online books for free - but said he would keep his mouth shut if the company agreed to cough up a few items.

Faced with any amount of riches, but not being a greedy individual, the sender plumped for a practical 2001 Volvo wagon, two digital audio players, and unlimited free downloads of the publisher's content.

He also wanted cash equivalent to the retail value of the content of the Web site. After the company agreed to everything but the money, it received an email from someone claiming to be Holcomb, providing a mailing address and work phone number at the chemistry department at his university.

The company played its trump card and had the 36-year-old arrested and charged with interstate commercial extortion. Bail was set at $50,000 in federal court in Denver, with the judge taking the bizarre step of banning Holcomb from using the Internet. Quite how this would be monitored was not explained.

If convicted of just one charge of using the Web to send extortion threats, Holcomb may be looking at to two years in a prison cell as well as a $100,000 fine. ®

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