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Good News from Three Spam Cases in the U.S.

They say (whoever "they" are) that good things come in threes, and that certainly seems true for law enforcement against spammers this week.

In New York, Adam Vitale was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $183,000 in restitution for a week of spamming AOL back in 2005. He's also allegedly linked to advertisements for prostitution on craigslist, and is already in jail for even worse crimes.

In Illinois, an FTC settlement requires Spear Systems and company executives Bruce Parker and Lisa Kimsey to give up $29,000, stop making "false or unsubstantiated claims about health benefits" of their products, and bars them from violating CAN-SPAM ever again. Related litigation continues against defendants in Quebec and Australia; you may remember this gang as the hoodia spammers.

And finally, in Seattle, the Robert Soloway case continues. He pled guilty back in March to wire fraud, CAN SPAM fraud, and tax evasion, but not identity theft — which was dismissed. Even so, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years, though that's reportedly unlikely. The difficulty for the judge appears to be that there isn't a lot of precedent for how long spammers should spend in jail. CAUCE would encourage Judge Marsha Pechman to look for precedents from other, non-internet-related fraud cases, multiply by the number of victims, and throw away the key.

But what makes the Soloway case particularly interesting is what else is being revealed. Soloway's business model was to sell advertising services, promising that all of his recipients had opted in — even though none of them had, so it was 100% spam. This reportedly earned him over $1 million in a 3-year period, along with many extremely unhappy customers and nearly $18 million in judgements thus far.

So that's three more down, but many more to go.

(This article was originally published by the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email, and is reproduced with permission.)

By J.D. Falk, Internet Standards and Governance

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