Feeds

Plea deal in 'war spamming' prosecution

Porn mails sent over Wi-Fi networks

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

A Los Angeles man accused of using other people's Wi-Fi networks to send thousands of unsolicited adult-themed emails has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors in a case filed under the criminal provisions of the federal CAN SPAM Act, officials confirmed Friday.

Nicholas Tombros, 37, was scheduled to enter a guilty plea Friday afternoon in federal court in Los Angeles, but the hearing was abandoned when judge Percy Anderson learned the defense attorney who'd signed off on the deal had been hospitalized and could not appear in court. "[Tombros] said that he wanted to take some time, so the judge scheduled us for a status conference in two weeks," says assistant US attorney Wesley Hsu, who's prosecuting the case.

Tombros' phone number is unlisted, and his new attorney did not return a phone call Friday.

Tombros was charged last month with a single felony under the criminal provisions of the CAN SPAM Act. He allegedly drove around the Los Angeles beachfront suburb of Venice with a laptop and a Wi-Fi antenna sniffing out unsecured residential access points, which he then used to send thousands of untraceable spam messages advertising pornography sites. An FBI spokesperson said Tombros obtained the email addresses from a credit card aggregation company where he used to work.

The CAN-SPAM Act, which took effect 1 January, doesn't criminalize unsolicited bulk commercial email, but it does outlaw most of the deceptive practices used by spammers. Tombros was charged under a provision that prohibits breaking into someone else's computer to send spam. Also outlawed is the practice of deliberately crafting spammy messages to disguise the origin; materially falsifying the headers in spam; spamming from five or more email accounts established under fake names; or hijacking five or more IP addresses and spamming from them.

A first-time violator face up to one year in federal stir for a small-time operation - three years if he or she meets one of several minimum standards of bad behavior, like leading a spam gang of at least three people, sending over 2,500 messages in one day, or using 10 or more falsely-registered domain names. As charged, Tombros faced the higher-tier sentence for the "especially complex and especially intricate offense conduct" of allegedly laundering his spam through wireless networks. Hsu wouldn't comment on the details of the plea agreement, and Tombros remains free to back out of the deal.

The criminal provisions of the Act were first exercised last April, when officials charged four Detroit-area men with sending nearly half-a-million deceptive messages through hijacked proxy servers.

Tombros' next court appearance is scheduled for 17 September.

"Over time spammers have shown that they will use any method that they feel they can use to send email," says Andrew Kirch, a security admin at the Abusive Hosts Blocking List. "We may be looking at an isolated incident, or we may be looking at the next big thing."

Copyright © 2004, SecurityFocus logo

Related stories

Spammers embrace email authentication
US cracks down on spam mountain
US tops junk mail Dirty Dozen - again

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.