Archive for Thursday, August 18, 2005

AOL spam case brings 15 months in prison

August 18, 2005

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— A 25-year-old former America Online employee who admitted he became a cyberspace "outlaw" when he sold all 92 million screen names and e-mail addresses to spammers was sentenced Wednesday to a year and three months in prison.

"I know I've done something very wrong," the soft-spoken and teary-eyed Jason Smathers told U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein as he apologized for a theft that resulted in spammers sending out up to 7 billion unsolicited e-mails.

Smathers admitted accepting $28,000 from someone who wanted to pitch an offshore gambling site to AOL customers, knowing that the list of screen names might make its way to others who would send e-mail solicitations.

The judge has recommended that Smathers be forced to pay $84,000 in restitution, triple what he earned. He delayed the order to let AOL prove the damages were higher. The judge suggested the $300,000 damage figure was speculative.

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