Two face jail for pornographic spam operation

Two men have been convicted in the US of a series of crimes including money laundering in connection with a $2m (£1m) porn spamming business.

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Two men have been convicted in the US of a series of crimes including money laundering in connection with a $2m (£1m) porn spamming business.

A jury in the US District Court for the District of Arizona convicted Jeffrey Kilbride and James Schaffer on eight criminal counts.

The trial was the first to include charges under the anti-spam laws passed by the US Congress in 2003 in an effort to crack down on unsolicited commercial email.

The men made "millions of dollars by sending unwanted sexually explicit emails to hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including families and children", Alice Fisher, assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice, said.

Kilbride and Schaffer started their spamming operation in 2003, and the two made more than $2m by sending out spam emails advertising pornographic websites, the Department of Justice said. The two earned a commission for each person directed to one of the websites.

Hard-core pornographic images were embedded in each email, and were visible to anyone who opened the email, the department said.

Kilbride and Schaffer were convicted of two violations of the Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act. One violation occurred when Kilbride and Schaffer sent multiple electronic commercial mail messages containing falsified header information. The pair also broke the law by sending email using domain names that were registered using false information.

Kilbride and Schaffer were also convicted on one count of conspiring to commit fraud in connection with email and four counts of obscenity charges for transporting hard-core pornographic images of adults. They were also convicted on a money laundering charge for moving funds inside and out of the US to conceal the ownership of the funds.

The two face a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each CAN-SPAM and obscenity offence and a fine of up to $500,000 (£250,000), plus up to 20 years in prison for money laundering. Sentencing is set for 24 September.

Internet service provider AOL and the US Federal Trade Commission watchdog received more than 660,000 complaints about the defendants' pornographic spam, including some from people who had set parental controls to protect their children from accessing graphic sexual content.

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