Spammer Sentenced to Nine Years in Jail

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A brother and sister were convicted this week of three felony charges of sending thousands of junk e-mails through servers located in Virginia, according to Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.

The convictions of Jeremy Jaynes, who was sentenced to nine years in prison, and his sister, Jessica DeGroot, who was fined $7500, were the nation's first-ever felony spam convictions, Kilgore says in a statement. A third defendant, Richard Rutkowski, was found not guilty, the attorney general says. The cases were heard in Loudoun County Circuit Court.

The case was prosecuted by members of the attorney general's Computer Crimes Unit under Virginia's new antispam law, which took effect last year.

"This is a major victory for Virginians and all Americans," Kilgore says in the statement. "Spam is a nuisance to millions of Americans, but it is also a major problem for businesses large and small because the thousands of unwanted e-mails create havoc as they attempt to conduct commerce."

Jaynes was rated the world's eighth-most prolific spammer by the Register of Known Spam Operations, Kilgore says.

DeGroot was convicted after prosecutors proved she had used her credit card to purchase domain names for the purpose of sending spam. Jaynes surrendered to authorities in Raleigh, North Carolina, last December. DeGroot turned herself in to authorities in April.

Thousands of Messages Sent

According to the indictment, the spam was sent in 2003 between July 11 and August 9. And spam sent on July 16, 19, and 26 of that year exceeded 10,000 messages during each 24-hour period, according to the statement. Kilgore says those numbers don't reflect the total number of messages sent, because they were based solely on actual complaints made by customers to their Internet service providers.

The indictment also alleged that the sender falsified transmission or routing information to prevent recipients from knowing who had sent the messages and how to contact the sender.

This falsified information is what makes such spam a crime in Virginia, and the volume of e-mails sent during the period is what elevated the charge to a felony, according to the statement.

Jaynes' Virginia attorney, David Oblon, could not be reached for comment.

This story, "Spammer Sentenced to Nine Years in Jail" was originally published by Computerworld.

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