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US porn spammers guilty as charged

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Two men who ran a spam operation to promote pornographic websites had the book thrown at them today. A federal jury in Phoenix, Arizona convicted Jeffrey Kilbride, 41, of Venice, California and James Schaffer, 41 of Paradise Valley, Arizona of eight counts, including conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, and transportation of obscene materials.

In 2003, Kilbride and Schaffer set up a spamming operation to promote pornography sites. They earned $2m in commission from porn site operators for the traffic generated from the emails. Hard-core porn was embedded in each email, which meant that anyone who opened the email could see it.

Kilbride and Schaffer did not let the CAN-SPAM Act, which banned the distribution of multiple electronic commercial mail messages containing falsified header information, stand in their way.

When the law came into effect on Jan 1, 2004, they simply logged onto servers in Amsterdam, to make it seem like their email came from outside the US. Also, the 'from' names and email addresses were different from the 'reply to' addresses, so recipients could not identify the sender or reply to email.

In another violation of CAN-SPAM, the domain names used to send the spam were registered in the name of a "fictitious employee at a shell corporation Kilbride and Schaffer established in the Republic of Mauritius," the US Department of Justice said today.

To cap it all, the dastardly duo funneled their ill-gotten gains through the Republic of Mauritius and the Isle of Man to "further insulate themselves from detection by U.S. law enforcement".

In August, 2005 Kilbride and Schaffer were the first people charged under the CAN-SPAM Act. They face up to five years in jail for each spam and obscenity offense and a fine of up to $500,000 and up to 20 years for money laundering. They will be sentenced in September. Boy are they in trouble.

Three associates of Kilbride and Schaffer, who include housewife Jennifer Clason, 34, of Raymond, New Hampshire, have already pleaded guilty to breaching CAN-SPAM. ®

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