Two porn spammers get the slammer

The case illustrates a modern maxim: Spam pays.



Farhad Manjoo
October 15, 2007 9:20PM (UTC)

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.

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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?

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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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