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Spammer faces 11 years in prison

Admits to sending junk mail to 1.2m AOL subscribers

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A New York man who was snared in federal investigators' sting operation targeting senders of junk email pleaded guilty to spamming 1.2m AOL subscribers.

Adam Vitale, 26, of Brooklyn, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to violations of the CAN-Spam Act. He faces 11 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 at his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for September 13, according to a press release (PDF) provided by the US Attorney in Manhattan, who prosecuted the case.

Vitale's undoing came after he and an accomplice sent instant messages to a confidential informant bragging of their prowess in sending massive amounts of spam that couldn't be traced to their true origins. The pair also boasted of their ability to defeat the specific spam filtering software AOL deploys over its network.

The informant proposed Vitale and his accomplice, Todd Moeller, advertise an undisclosed product in return for the spammers getting a 50-per cent cut of the proceeds, prosecutors said. During a one-week span in late August of 2005, the men sent junk messages to about 1.2 million AOL users.

The pair employed relays and altered the header information in the spam they sent, both common techniques for concealing the true origins of junk mail.

Moeller has yet to enter a plea. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. ®

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