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Two Los Angeles men are to go to jail for their part in a bulk email scam which duped 12,000 people and severely impacted upon the operations of several, large US ISPs.

Associated Press reports that Steve Shklovskiy and Yan Shtok both received a sentence of two years and were ordered to pay £69 000 compensation for their role in a September 1999 scheme which involved the sending of 50 million emails. The men pleaded guilty to fraud charges in December 1999, so why it has taken so long for a sentence to be pronounced remains unclear. Two others also involved in the scam were sentenced to probation in July.

The spam messages sent out by the gang invited recipients to send a £24 "processing fee" in order to learn how to get a job stuffing envelopes. We're surprised 12,000 people replied to such an obvious scam - particularly when such jobs are advertised in most every evening newspaper's situation vacant column.

Investigators said Shklovskiy and Shtok worked out a way to use commercial available software to "harvest" email addresses. Under the terms of the plea agreement the men made with the court, which presumably took a year to conclude, they will have to explain the techniques they used to perform the scam.

Internet providers, including AOL, AT&T and Mindspring, were besieged by customer complaints and their systems were threatened by the overload as a result of the sheer scale of the spamming. They also suffered the further indignity of being bombarded with customer complaints. ®

Related stories:
AOL spammer pleads guilty to forgery
Verizon digs out from spam blizzard
MSN blacklisted for harbouring spammers
Europe to ban spam?

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