Yesterday, Jason Smathers, the 25-year old former AOL employee who admitted to selling 92 million AOL screen names and email addresses, was sentenced to 15 months in prison. In addition to the jail term the judge also sentenced him to pay restitution of three times the USD $28,000 he sold this data for.
Reports indicate that as many as 7 billion (billion with a “B”) spam emails were sent to this list. AOL says their direct costs may have been $300,000 or more and may be asking for increased damages.
Read the article on Yahoo News.
I was surprised at the jail term since the judge originally stated he thought no crime was committed based on the laws in place at the time of the incident.
Does this scenario really send a message that will deter others from doing this in the future?
I guess only time will tell, however, I believe this type of coverage will have some positive impact. That’s especially true with broadly-circulated stories like the recent Dateline NBC segment (see One Degree post Liberty Village Renamed Toronto’s Porn Alley. Here we actually got to see who is spamming and how it all works. NBC even named names! However, it also portrays affiliate and referral programs poorly.
What’s good for the industry is that the long arm of the law IS catching up to many of the spammers and accomplices. Recently Microsoft and AOL won court battles and were able to seize the proceeds of spammers. In some cases these proceeds ended up as prizes in sweepstakes run by these companies.
Microsoft in US $7 Million Spam Settlement
AOL Wins Judgement Against Spammers
Let me know what you think. Email me or add your comments below.