Two porn spammers get the slammer

The case illustrates a modern maxim: Spam pays.

By Farhad Manjoo
Published October 15, 2007 9:20PM (UTC)
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James Schaffer and Jeffrey Kilbride were sentenced on Friday to five years in prison and fines of $100,000 each for sending you dirty spam. According to the Justice Department, the men are the first to be convicted under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, the acronymic federal law that outlines guidelines for e-mail marketing.

Schaffer, of Arizona, and Kilbride, of California, were convicted in June of felony fraud, obscenity, conspiracy and money laundering stemming from their spamming operation.

The two made more than a million dollars in a one-year period by sending out a torrent of e-mail that used false headers and domain names to direct people to hardcore porn sites. The money came from porn sites -- the men earned a commission each time a spam e-mail prompted a recipient to sign up for an adult Web site.

In addition to the jail time, fines and $77,500 in restitution to AOL -- whose members received a lot of the spammers' messages -- U.S. District Judge David Campbell also ordered the spammers to forfeit their spam-gotten gains.

The whole thing strikes me as well and proper and not even especially interesting -- So some spammers went to jail; hasn't made a difference in my in box -- except for one thing: These guys made a million dollars through commissions alone?

If you were unsure of it before, this pretty much proves that spam works, at least on some people. Folks out there are getting messages stuffed with face-reddening photos and they're clicking on them. And spammers are making money from it. As long as that keeps happening -- and is there any reason to think it won't? -- spam's not going anywhere.

P.V. man sentenced in porn spam case [East Valley Tribune]

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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