Two Spammers Face Over Five Years
Two men behind a spam ring that sent millions of pornographic mails are the first to be convicted under new federal spam laws, the Justice Department said.
The law, known as CAN-SPAM, was passed in 2003 in order to criminalize the sending of unsolicited mail. Since then, many companies including AOL and Microsoft have used the law to fight back against spammers.
According to government prosecutors, Jeffrey Kilbride of Venice, Calif., and James Schaffer of Paradise Valley, Ariz. purchased lists of e-mail addresses and then sent spam e-mails to those accounts advertising pornographic sites.
During a nine month period in 2004, Kilbride and Schaffer apparently sent some 600,000 e-mails with the links. For each person that ending up visiting the site, both men were paid a small commission.
The two were apparently sending messages even before the CAN-SPAM act was passed, although attempted to skirt prosecution by claiming the mails came from Amsterdam, Netherlands in the messages themselves.
"At Kilbride and Schaffer's trial, eight citizens traveled from Massachusetts, Texas, Iowa, California and Arizona to testify about the context in which their families, including some children, received the pornographic spam messages," the Justice Department said in a statement. "In all, AOL and the FTC received over 1.5 million complaints from spam recipients, including some who had set parental controls to protect their children from accessing graphic sexual content."
The original convictions were handed down in June and included conspiracy, money laundering, fraud, and transportation of obscene materials. Last week, a Arizona federal judge sentenced both to more than five years in federal prison.
Lawyers for the defendants have declined to comment.