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AOL pest pleads guilty to spamming 1.2m people

US man faces 11 years in prison & $250,000 fine

Adam Vitale pled guilty yesterday to sending unsolicited email to 1.2 million AOL subscribers, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Michael J. Garcia said.

Vitale and co-defendant Todd Moeller were in contact with a government confidential informant via instant messaging, and agreed to send spam advertisements for a product in exchange for half of the profits, Garcia said. The pair then sent about 1.2 million unsolicited emails to AOL users between August 17 and August 23, 2005. They changed the headers on the emails and used various computers to conceal the source of the spam.

Vitale, 26, resides in Brooklyn. Sentencing is scheduled for September 13 before US District Judge Denny Chin, who presided over the criminal case, in Manhattan. He faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or double the maximum gain or loss resulting from the offence. Moeller, a New Jersey resident, will stand trial for the same charges.

One observer felt the legal victory was somewhat hollow.

"I think this is a moral victory for AOL, but not much else," said Adam O'Donnell, director of emerging technologies at Cloudmark. "The economic motivations underlying abuse mean some other spammer has already taken his place, and it is likely the spammer's replacement is coming from outside American jurisdiction."


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