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Spammer Scott Levine Convicted 266

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the into-the-big-house dept.
bani writes "Spammer Scott Levine was convicted of massive data theft from Acxiom Corporation. Prosecutors say his company, the now-defunct Snipermail.com, stole 1.6 billion customer records from Acxiom and sold the data. He faces a maximum of 640 years in prison under the law, though he will likely be sentenced to far less. One spammer down, several million to go?"
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Spammer Scott Levine Convicted

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  • by smartin (942) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:53AM (#13310951)
    Only give him 1/10th of the maximum.
    • You think 64 years is fair? Are you telling me that his crime is worse than a rapist's? I intensely dislike spammers, but let's be realistic here.
      • You think 64 years is fair? Are you telling me that his crime is worse than a rapist's? I intensely dislike spammers, but let's be realistic here.

        Ah no, i'd give the rapist 640 years. Spammer still deserves 64.
        • Ah no, i'd give the rapist 640 years. Spammer still deserves 64.

          But until rapists are given life sentences the law is being applied disproportionately. We all hate spam here, but no rational person is going to compare ANY amount of spam to something as hideous as a single rape or murder. I stress no RATIONAL person, because this being Slashdot there are undoubtedly a number of loons who'll argue that a rape is somehow less of a crime than persistent spamming.

          Max
          • The difference, though, is most rapists and murderers aren't serial and don't re-offend. Spammers regularly re-offend. It's not the quality of the crime, it's the quantity.
      • You think 64 years is fair?

        No, it's far too lenient.

        Are you telling me that his crime is worse than a rapist's?

        "Crimes", not "crime". We're not talking about one act, but millions of counts of theft. Heck, I'm fine with only giving him one day in jail for each person's data that he stole.

        -jcr

    • by zaguar (881743) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @02:40PM (#13312227)
      640 years ought to be enough jail time for anybody.

      http://www.pcguide.com/ref/ram/logic-c.html [pcguide.com]

  • 640 years? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Qnaal (730656)
    i'm pretty sure noone has ever had to serve more than around 200 years in prison
    • What do you call 3 consecutive life sentences?
    • Even so, you have to admit its very lenient. Personally, I think 640k years would be more aappropriate. I am sure the majority of /.ers would support my call for it to be raised to 640 life sentences.
      • I strongly disagree, I think 640k should be the max for any sentencing, regardless of the crime(s). Who could ever possibly need more than 640k???
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:57AM (#13310967)
    They should put him in prison and make him write out every e-mail he ever sent with a pencil and paper. He gets out of jail whenever he is finished.
  • 640 years?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 42Penguins (861511) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @09:59AM (#13310972)
    From TFA:
    "We're very pleased with the outcome. We think it's the appropriate verdict," U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins said outside U.S. District Court.

    As much as I dislike spammers, is 640 years appropriate for one man? He didn't even kill anyone. Maybe he should have gotten something more brutal, like 64000 hours of community service...as a tech support operator!
    • As much as I dislike spammers, is 640 years appropriate for one man?

      Remember that the US legal system likes the idea of consecutive sentences. 640 years would be roughly 12 seconds per customer record stolen.
    • Re:640 years?! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bani (467531)
      Murderers generally only affect a few people. He affected 1.6 _billion_, not to mention the massive economic damages he inflicted with his spamming operation.
      • Don't even try to equate the seriousness of spam with murder, rape, or other much more serious crimes. Spam sucks, but it is just spam. What next, capital punishment in Texas for spammers?

        I wouldn't be opposed to, lets say, breaking their fingers, or behaviorally programming them to crap their pants whenever they come within 5' of a computer input device (including keyboards, mice, keypads for ATMs, etc).

    • by Tackhead (54550) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#13311064)
      > As much as I dislike spammers, is 640 years appropriate for one man? He didn't even kill anyone.

      He didn't? Let's assume (conservatively), that he sent out one spam per customer record he stole. 1.6 billion spams. Let's further assume that it takes a human being one second to "Just Hit Delete". 1.6 billion person-seconds wasted. 444,444 person-hours wasted. 18,518 person-days wasted. 50 person-years if you're working 24/7. At 8 hours a day, that's the entire productive lifespan of three people. Three lives - stolen just as effectively as if he'd killed them.

      > Maybe he should have gotten something more brutal, like 64000 hours of community service...as a tech support operator!

      64,000 hours, at 8 hours a day, is 40000 days, or 218 years, so you're not too far off the 640-year mark.

      640 years ought to be enough for anybody, but what I'd really like to see is to have him locked in a cell, "Just Hitting Delete", once for every spam he sent, for 16 waking hours a day.

      Four or five times a day, an email with a From: line like "Your Warden", "Health Services", or "Cafeteria" with a Subject: line such as "Extended recreation hours!", "Take a break!", or "Lunchtime!" will appear.

      He has to reply to this mail to get an hour of exercise, have his medical checkups, or his meals.

      Hey, it's just spam, right? Doesn't hurt anyone, right? Just delete it, right? Well, if he hasn't starved to death when he runs out of 1.6 billion spams on which to Just Hit Delete, he can walk away a free man.

      • 64,000 hours, at 8 hours a day, is 40000 days, or 218 years, so you're not too far off the 640-year mark.

        Your numbers are off. 64,000 hours at 16 hours a day is 4,000 days, or 11 years. That's a reasonable sentence. The work could be laying bricks in Siberia or digging irrigation ditches in the Sahara. Five minute water/food break at lunchtime. Perhaps a toilet break mid-afternoon.
      • This might just fall into the category of cruel and unusual punishment...
    • 2600 hours would be far more appropriate.

      Anyway, this is Slashdot. A few years ago when people here actually understood computers, they might have agreed with you (spamming isn't murder, it isn't rape, it shouldn't be sentenced as severely as either).
  • by slavemowgli (585321) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:00AM (#13310981) Homepage
    Every spammer that goes to jail for his actions is a victory. For one, it's quite well-known that most of the spam we see today originates from a relatively small group of people, so it's not exactly "one down, several more million to go"; and also, even if there were considerably more, the mere fact that they now know that they might go to jail for spamming just might be a deterrent. Spamming is pretty much a textbook example of whitecollar crime, and it's been shown that unlike with bluecollar crime (that is, more physical crimes, like assault, rape, robbery etc.), prison sentences actually do serve as a deterrent here.

    Remember, spammers are cowards - and greedy cowards, for that matter. They do what they do to get rich quick, so the prospect losing their money in lawsuits and possibly going to jail afterwards will scare them quite a bit.
    • prison sentences actually do serve as a deterrent here. Remember, spammers are cowards - and greedy cowards, for that matter.

      Here's what every criminal thinks before they commit a crime: "I'm not gonna get caught. I didn't get caught last time, I won't get caught next time either. They're never gonna catch me."

      That is, if they even think at all. Most of the time, you'd actually have to ask them in person beforehand.

      And moreover, they're not cowards, they're sociopaths. Like used car salesmen. Or Dogbert.
  • What is it with computing and the number 640?
  • sentencing (Score:2, Funny)

    by unfunk (804468)
    I can just imagine it now...

    "You are hereby sentenced to 640 years in jail, with parole in nine months"

    ah, the law is an ass..

    • In the 1980s the Federal Parole system was abolished for exactly the sentiment you expressed in your post. I found this explanation that might help contextualize it a bit.

      From LectLaw URL [lectlaw.com] (emphasis added):

      FEDERAL PAROLE ABOLISHED

      Previously, the U.S. Parole Commission could, and often did, authorize the
      early release of Federal prisoners. The Sentencing Reform Act limited this
      authority by abolishing Federal parole. As a result, defendants serve
      their court-imposed sentences, minus approximately 15 percent for

  • He faces a maximum of 640 years in prison under the law, though he will likely be sentenced to far less.

    250 years?
  • Not Millions (Score:5, Informative)

    by terrencefw (605681) <slashdot@@@jamesholden...net> on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:05AM (#13310999) Homepage
    According to the ROKSO list there's only really a hundred or so Levines and Richters out there. They are collectively responsible for a huge percentage of all the spam though. The rest is sent by amateur spammers sending to a few tens of thousands of people. The real spammers on the ROKSO list have databases of 1 billion + addresses.
  • Heh. (Score:2, Funny)

    At first I thought the article title was referring to Levin, the founder of IRC network Freenode. He spams a lot too - he's constantly making wallop messages begging for cash to support the network because his lazy ass can't get a job.
  • by unfunk (804468) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:06AM (#13311006) Journal
    "640 years should be enough for anyone"
  • by Tomster (5075) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:21AM (#13311054) Homepage Journal
    1. A good start.
    2. Not nearly enough.
    3. What's wrong with a firing squad?
    4. You mean those Pen1s En1argement Pi11s don't work???
  • The problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:21AM (#13311055) Homepage Journal
    The problem is, that most spammers are seen in the 'industry' (so to speak) as some of the best paid, their earnings from the illegal mailings dwarf what some porn websites make in a day, and that can be huge

    As long as their is money in it, people will try their hardest to do it. It will be very hard to stop in the end, as for every spammer who goes down... 10 new kids with a copy of a mailing script pop up.

    What would be better is taking down the companies who fund the illegal mail by paying comissions on the products advertised, no spammer would risk jail if they weren't getting paid.
  • by loggia (309962) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#13311065)
    So Acxiom lost 1.6 billion private records... what were they charged with for such shoddy security?

    How much did they pay consumers for not protecting their data..?

    What new standards did they have to agree to with the government..?

  • by theCoder (23772) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#13311066) Homepage Journal
    It's great to see a spammer taken down. But what about this Axciom company? According to the article, Axciom "serves large corporations by collecting and managing information for marketing purposes". Maybe they don't spam directly, but it sure sounds like they at least help spammers. And probably not just email spammers, but telephone and snail mail, as well. And apparently they're storing "personal customer records, including names, postal and e-mail addresses, bank and credit card numbers." [ephasis mine] Why does one company have so much information on so many people? And why when they are negligent with that data, do they not face any consequences?

    The article seemed to imply that the snipermail spammers initially got access to more records than they were supposed to have because of something Axciom did (this isn't clear) before they started breaking passwords to get even more data. Where are the 600+ year prison terms for the Axciom management?

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:31AM (#13311085) Homepage Journal
    From what i can tell, he is being jailed for THEFT, not spam.

    While i agree with most here that spam sux, there is a difference between being convicted of spamming and convicted of being a common thief.

    So dont get too happy yet shouting 'spammers are toast'.
  • by ciscoguy01 (635963) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:33AM (#13311091)
    "One spammer down, several million to go?"
    According to spamhaus only about 200 individuals are responsible for nearly all the spam in the world. I know that seems incredible but they are in a position to know.
  • by IainMH (176964) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @10:36AM (#13311102)

      "One spammer down, several million to go?"

    I heard that less than 200 people account for about 95% of all spam.
  • They should hand out these kinds of punishments to murderers, child molesters and rapists.
  • by stubear (130454) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @11:05AM (#13311217)
    ...Information just wants to be free. He didn't steal the information, he just copied it and shared it.
  • ant mound (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cifey (583942) on Saturday August 13, 2005 @11:32AM (#13311350) Journal
    So the difference here is that one person has the ability to disturb the whole infrastructure fo the economy, and waste a lot of time and money.
    As bad as they are, a violent criminal only disturbs a small segment of society.
    So a data 'thief' is like a lawn mower and a violent criminal is like an ant eater.
  • From TFAs:
    "There is no evidence that any individuals are at risk of harm due to the breaches," the company said. "It is also important to note that only one external server was accessed, and there was no intrusion of Acxiom's internal security firewalls or internal databases."

    "The 1.6 billion records included names, home addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, bank and credit card numbers"

    HAhaahahhahhahhaahahahaha. Yeah. what an excuse, no internal server was breached. And WTF was an "external" server d
  • I was talking with a friend of mine who runs a mortgage brokering business. He does NOT advertise online, he mostly does it by word of mouth and trade shows (especially the bridal ones, people getting married seem to be in the house market more often than not).

    Each client earns him a little over $1000 US on average (I hadn't realized it was so much, I always assumed it was a few hundred), in other words each person he closes a mortgage with is worth quite a bit of money. This means that for a spam run of

Information is the inverse of entropy.

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