E-mail spammers face nine years in jail - Science - News - The Independent

E-mail spammers face nine years in jail

A brother and sister who collected $24m (£13m) of credit card orders after sending junk e-mail to millions of Americans face nine years in jail in the first successful criminal prosecution of internet "spammers" in the US.

Jeremy Jaynes, 30, and Jessica DeGroot, 28, were recommended for nine-year sentences and fines of $7,500 (£4,000) by jurors who heard the case in Virginia.

The pair were convicted on three counts of sending e-mails with fraudulent and untraceable details about the sender - a common ploy of spammers but one which became an offence in the state just over a year ago. They targeted customers of America Online (AOL), which is based in Virginia.

A third defendant, Richard Rutkowski, 30, was acquitted.

All three defendants live in Raleigh, North Carolina. The final sentence will be decided next February by the judge, who could yet throw out the case when he rules on a motion filed earlier to dismiss the charges entirely.

The case hinged on the fact that the pair had obscured their involvement in the sending of the e-mail, a means commonly used by spammers to cover their tracks and prevent them from being kicked off the internet by providers.

Spam is a huge problem on the internet, comprising 10 out of 13 e-mails, according to the security company Postini. Furthermore, almost all of them offer fake, counterfeit or fraudulent goods or schemes. Some spammers have been prosecuted over the fraudulent content, but none before for the act.

Prosecutors also detailed the fraudulent ideas being peddled by the pair, including a scheme to earn $75 per hour at home doing refunds for Federal Express, a "penny stock picker" and an "internet history eraser" programme. Gene Fishel, for the prosecution, said: "This is a snake-oil salesman in a new format." Yet like snake oil in its day, the pair's e-mails found willing buyers. In one month alone, Jaynes received 10,000 credit card orders, each for $39.95 for the Federal Express scam. "This was just a case of fraud," said Mr Fishel.

Another prosecutor, Russell McGuire, said Jaynes amassed a net wealth of $24m (£13m) peddling the worthless products. "He's been successful ripping people off all these years," Mr McGuire said.

Prosecutors had sought the maximum 15-year sentence for Jaynes, and a lesser jail term for his sister, whom they said was less culpable.

David Oblon, representing Jaynes, called the punishment excessive as the prosecution was the first under the Virginia law. He said that as a North Carolina resident, Jaynes would have been unaware of the Virginia law. He called the jury's recommendation shocking. "Nine years is absolutely outrageous when you look at what we do to people convicted of crimes like robbery and rape."

Andy Morris, product director of the security company Clearswift, said: "Nine years in jail is absolutely right, though the fine is a joke - these people made millions. But for a spammer, if they risk nine years in jail that's going to make them think twice."

Thorgeir Einarsson, European managing director of the e-mail company Sendmail, said industry initiatives should mean that from next year companies such as AOL and Yahoo! would find it easier to stop spam reaching their customers, using authentication technology.

Ten Of The Biggest Spam Merchants

1 Alan Ralsky Since 1997 has sent hundreds of millions of e-mails every day, covering all sorts of offers. Reckoned to be the biggest spammer in the world. Has criminal convictions.

2 Damon DeCrescenzo Runs Docdrugs, offering online "medications" - which might or might not work.

3 Scott Richter Claims to have 80 million "approved" addresses inviting spam but cannot name where a single one would have signed up.

4 Chris Smith Used to run a "fake diplomas" scam, and has worked with other spammers. Uses computers in China to send out spam. In the business since 1999.

5 Eddy Marin Florida-based. Has convictions dating back to 1990 for cocaine dealing.

6 Thomas Cowles Offers to provide services for other spammers kicked off the internet by providers.

7 Eric Reinertsen Spammer since 1997. Offers various scams and investment fraud.

8 Jeremy Jaynes aka Gaven Stubberfield Convicted yesterday of spamming AOL users with "work at home" and "internet history erasers". Now faces nine years in jail.

9 Juan Garavaglia aka Super-Zonda Porn and "penis extension" spammer. Specialises in taking over other people's e-mail servers to send out junk.

10 Dave Shingler/Richard Burry Canada-based porn spammers offering live gay sex videos.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Recruitment Consultant - Soho - IT, Pharma, Public Sector

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000 first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week