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US smut spam duo jailed for five years apiece

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A pair of US men were each jailed for more than five years on Friday for their part in a long-running pornographic spam business that racked up revenues of more than $1m.

Jeffrey A Kilbride, 41, of Venice, California, and James R Schaffer, 41, of Paradise Valley, Arizona, were jailed for 72 months and 63 months respectively. US District Judge David G Campbell gave Kilbride the higher sentence after the court ruled that he attempted to prevent a government witness from testifying at his trial.

Kilbride and Schaffer protested their innocence throughout proceedings, but an Arizona jury was unimpressed, finding each guilty of sundry offences including fraud, money laundering, illegal spamming, and various obscenity charges. The three week trial was the first to include charges under the CAN-SPAM Act, the US's controversial anti-spam laws.

Beginning in 2003, Kilbride and Schaffer established a spamming operation in the United States. They specialised in sending junk mails promoting hard-core porn sites, earning a commission any time someone signed up in response to their messages. Often these indiscriminately sent messages contained explicit images.

In late 2003, after the CAN-SPAM Act was passed, Kilbride and Schaffer took steps to relocate their illicit enterprise abroad. By remotely logging in to servers in Amsterdam, the men were able to make it appear that the messages they were sending originated abroad, when they were actually being sent from Phoenix. Their emails contained falsified headers that implied they were sent from a shell corporation in Mauritius.

The duo used bank accounts in the Republic of Mauritius and the Isle of Man to receive the proceeds from the operation in a bid to further throw investigators off their scent, ultimately without success. Two of the pair's co-conspirators - Andrew Ellifson, 31, of Scottsdale, Arizona; and Kirk Rogers, 43, of Manhattan Beach, California - turned state's evidence at Kilbride and Schaffer's trial.

At their sentencing hearing last week, Kilbride and Schaffer were fined $100,000 and ordered to pay $77,500 in restitution to AOL. Judge Campbell also ordered the defendants to stump up more than $1.1m, the estimated proceeds of their spamming business.

More information can be found in a DoJ statement on the case here. ®

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