AOL spammer loses appeal

Jail looms

hands waving dollar bills in the air

A notorious American spammer is heading for jail after a Virginia Appeals Court upheld his conviction and sentence to nine years' imprisonment for junk mail offences.

Last year Jeremy Jaynes, 32, from North Carolina, was found guilty of three counts of junk mail offences by a Loudon County jury. Last week, three Appeals Court judges dismissed defence claims that as the junk mails were sent from Jaynes's home in North Carolina, Virginia had no jurisdiction in the case. They also rejected arguments that Virginia's anti-spam laws constrain First Amendment free speech rights, a view supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.

In response to this claim, Judge James W. Haley Jr ruled in his opionion: "Trespassing on private computer networks through intentional misrepresentation [is] an activity that merits no First Amendment protection,", the Washington Post reports.

Jaynes, who was released on $1m bail pending the outcome of his legal fight, wants to make another appeal. Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell said the State will seek to have Jaynes's bail revoked and send him to prison.

Jaynes was tried under tough Virginia state anti-spam laws, which make it a crime to send unsolicited bulk email with false or misleading originating addresses through the state. He fell foul of these laws by spamming tens of thousands of AOL users using a stolen database containing around 100m addresses. His spamming campaign flooded AOL's servers with ads for spam-sending software, stock pickers and other assorted tat. The headquarters of AOL are based in Virginia, clearing the way for a prosecution by that state.

Jaynes, once rated as the eighth worst spammer in the world by anti-spam organisation Spamhaus, is thought to have made $24m from spamming. ®</p

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