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Spammers Jailed for 2 Years 179

KjetilK writes "Ananova reports in an article that two spammers have been jailed for two years after sending 50 million e-mails. According to the story, 12,000 people bought their scam. May they be served SPAM every day in jail."
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Spammers Jailed for 2 Years

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  • I'd rather see them stuffed into their own personal cans of 'spam' tx, but I guess jail will do for now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The article reads like they got jailed for running sniffer bots for email addresses, not for actually sending the spam.
  • Wouldn't the true reason they went to jail be becuase of the Scam and not the Spam? Has anyone gone to jail for purely spam?
  • Let the bastards rot!

  • by bunco ( 1432 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:36AM (#533463)
    They got jailed for *FRAUD* not for spamming.
  • NO ONE can eat SPAM every day for longer than a's just not natural. Then again, maybe spammers aren't natural either. I'll leave that question to the philosophers

  • These two guys weren't jailed for spamming. They were jailed for duping people out of their money. I'm still waiting for a *real* spamming conviction.
  • Reading the article, they are jailed for fraud, not for spamming.
    Big deal.
    People get jailed for that all the time.

    I want to see people jailed just for sending spam.

  • According to the article, they pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Article says: They then sent a mass e-mailing, asking recipients for a £24 "processing fee" in exchange for a chance to work at home stuffing envelopes.
  • Hrmm....

    I'm a firm believer in the notion of a hands off policy about the Internet from the government. This is a new territory, not contained within the bounds of any one nation, yet governments attempt to enforce their will on it.

    This is a case where the veracity of the Internet communities request for autonomy is really called into question. Can we have it both ways? Can we call in the cops when needed, but kick them out as soon as we are done with them?

    I think this seems good on the surface, but has set a dangerous precendent about how much interference we are willing to allow by a national government. However, the question would remain, how would the Internet police itself and enforce judgement, without the help of nations?

    This might be the most deceptively dangerous action in the Internet in the past few years, IMHO.

  • That's a good question. It probably will never be known until the next case comes up. What confuses me is, if online spammers should be jailed, what about the people who make and advertise the meat?
  • Finally!

    Death to spammers!

  • by Don Negro ( 1069 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:41AM (#533471)
    According to the article, they were running an 'envelope stuffing' racket.

    The only difference was that they ran it via email solicitation rather than by the more conventional classified ad route.

    BTW, there are no jobs stuffing envelopes. Pitney-Bowes makes very nice envelope stuffing machines, which operate very efficiently in the >$.01 range.

    Don Negro

  • Well, this is a start, I suppose, but this [] is really the right way to go about it.
  • by ( 184378 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:42AM (#533473) Journal
    Fight Spam on the Internet! []

    Spam Laws in the US, Europe, and beyond []

    According to this page [], Washington law sets the following as penalties for spam:

    The law allows for damages to the recipient of $500 or actual damages, which ever is greater, for EACH MESSAGE received. The law also allows $1,000 or actual damages, which ever is greater, to the Internet Service Provider, for EACH MESSAGE received.

    Full text of the law is available [].
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:42AM (#533474)
    no you don't. We have enough problems w/people being jailed for stupid fucking crimes (possession of marijuana, fraud, money laundering). We need to put people away for murder, rape, major drug production and moving. We can't find kidnappers, rapists, and murders, but we can track down two idiots who sent out 50 million emails and had 12k idiots fall for their ploy...

    Fill the prisons with REAL criminals not stupid idiots. They should be put on house arrest and served SPAM, not taking up space in the already overcrowded system..

    Just my worthless .02
  • by canning ( 228134 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:43AM (#533475) Homepage
    More than 12,000 people were duped. Internet providers, including AOL, AT&T and Mindspring, were besieged by customer complaints and their systems were threatened by the overload.

    The plea agreements require the men to reveal to the internet providers how they accomplished their scheme.

    Here we go, everybody get ready for a constant battering of emails from large internet providers claiming faster service and lower rates. Thanks for adding another powerful weapon to the world of spamming

    I think they should have been orderd to keep their mouths shut.

  • These people happened to deliver their scam via unsolicited email. That's not why they're being imprisoned.

    Just like Jim Bakker didn't go to jail for being married to a woman with no fasion sense. That's just peripheral information.

  • The plea agreements require the men to reveal to the internet providers how they accomplished their scheme.

    Doesn't seem like too much of a mystery to me... I sincerely hope they didn't get out of much jail time in turn for explaining how to use spammer software!

    The real mystery is how they managed to trick 12,000 people out of almost $350,000 with such a pathetic scam.

  • Why are Americans being fined in pounds, anyway?
  • Nothing about 50 million emails would give any "internet provider" more than a tiny blip on the radar. These observations about "almost brought the largest internet providers to a standstill" are untrue. If the providers made the argument in court, in order to convict, I can understand it. But it cannot be true.
  • by scotch ( 102596 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:46AM (#533480) Homepage
    Let's see, they sent out 50,000,000 emails, and successfully suckered 12,000 people? This seems like a phenomenol hit rate - 1 in ~4100 or so. Considering many emails were probably never delivered, or rejected by filters, that's much better than I thought it would be. A sucker logs on every minute

  • I cannot think of another case where con artists who used spam to con people were sent to jail over it. If you can think of such a case, post a link. Otherwise, shut up.
  • I have an idea: Lets find out what jail these guys are at and all get together to send these guys a package conataining 1 can of spam, and 1 $24 offer to make money stamping license plates!

  • So what? There are lots of useless, unenforceable laws on the books. I live in a state where oral sex is still illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, you Americans are still subjects to her Majesty the Queen of England even if you won't acknowledge it right now.

    The Crown will reclaim your rebel colony some day.

  • We need to put people away for murder, rape, major drug production and moving.

    Whoa. It's illegal to move? Dang. And I had my eye on a nice three-bedroom Victorian.

  • Perhaps Hemos should go to jail for fraud.

    Between this and the stupid Apple article yesterday...

  • Ok, so they got nailed for fraud, and not for the spam itself.

    I sitll beleive that the 69,000pounds (about 120,000$USD) plus 2 years isn't an adequate sentence.

    I thing the spammers should be sentenced to manually compose a personalized excuse email to every one of the 12,000 who bought their spam plus, of course, refund of the extorted money).

    Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.
  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:52AM (#533488) Homepage Journal
    The main problem with Spam is the lack of interest from law enforcement in persecuting people who engage in spamming practices. While many spammers act like crackers in order to hijack open mail relays in to being spam amplifiers, not one spammer has been given the Kevin Mitnick treatment.

    Spam costs real money to the ISPs that become unintentional spam victims, the free mail domains that spammers forge return addresses from, the victims who purchase commercial software from people not smart enough to set up a mail server to not be an open relay, and the sysadmins that have to constantly refine their spam filters from spammers continual spam filter dodging techniques.

    As long as spammers do not get sent to jail for their acitons, they will continue to spam. These people could care less if they make 10,000,000 people angry, as long as they get a few thousand dollars by scamming ignorant internet users.

    The only way to make the internet a place where people feel safe putting their east-to-remeber email address on a web page, in a usenet posting, or in the whois data for a domain is to make spamming a crime, and to prosecute spammers to the fullest extent of the law.

    BTW, I have written some pretty effective anti-spamming software here []. Note that this software only runs on Linux/Unix machines. Windows users can use sneakemail [].

    - Sam

  • The real mystery is how they managed to trick 12,000 people out of almost $350,000 with such a pathetic scam.

    Why is this such a big mystery?

    I read a few years back of a survey that indicated that a large percent of the US population thinks that the X-Files has some basis in fact.

    How much money has MS managed to trick people out of using a pathetic scam? Well, okay. Maybe MS's scam is not so pathetic.
  • I love it. Nothing brightens my day more than seeing 2 spammers behind bars for a couple years.

    2 down, 150,000 to go.


  • We can't find kidnappers, rapists, and murders, but we can track down two idiots who sent out 50 million emails and had 12k idiots fall for their ploy..

    I agree with your other points, but it does tend to be quite a bit easier to find someone who's interested in selling you something. They have to pick up your money somewhere, most likely the place you send it.

    The Good Reverend
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:55AM (#533492) Homepage
    Ok, so the spammed and scammed. Which were they jailed for? My guess is the latter.


  • Even the headline of the damn article says that they were jailed over the scam, not for spamming.

    Let's see, in the past couple of days, we've had the Sprint TOS that "makes porn-viewing illegal!!!" which didn't, the Apple "suit against FreeType!!!" that wasn't, and now this totally misleading article. Everytime I think Slashdot's sunk to a new low, they go the extra mile. Way to go, Hemos!


  • Reading the article, they are jailed for fraud, not for spamming.
    Big deal.

    True. And I never wrote they were jailed for spamming.

    However, most of my spam is of the same sort these two spammers were pushing, so I'd say it is a big deal. Or at least a deal.

  • for nerds my ass.

    It should be "Rumor Mill for Geeks and Unusually Paranoid" lately.
  • Excuse me but... fraud isn't a real crime?

    Fraud... willfully disseminating false information for the purpose of doing or aquiring things that you are not entitled to?

    As for drug production and moving... I see no reason to jail them, they are just filling a profitable market. I think they should have the FDA sent after them and be forced to slap ingredients labels on their products and do real quality assurance testing.

    I think these con artists, because thats what they are, are the "Real Criminals". They are offering a product that they do not provide, they are stealing resources from ISPs and the rest of the net. They ARE cheating and swindling people out of their money, and giving headaches to admins in the process.

    They are leaches on society. At least drug producers are providing people with a product that they actually want! Spammers force their junk on everyone, and use stolen resources to do it.

    Imagine you walk into a store and purchase a large peice of furnature...they take your money and say "Just drive around back to the loading dock and we will load it on your vehicle"...then when you drive around noone is there and upon going back into the store, the clerk claims that he never saw you before and has no idea what your talking about. Are you saying this man would not be a "Real criminal" worthy of jail time? Thats effectivly what many of these spammers are doing.

    Its fraud. Advertising using forged headers and obfuscating where your comming from... thats fraud too. These people are "Real criminals".


  • Yeah, just fraud. And the people they defrauded were stupid, too. (I'm going to pay money for an opportunity to work at home... waitaminute.)

    I want to see people jailed just for sending spam.

    My dream is to secede from the Earth. Build a gigantic space station, or a Niven ring. And in my country -- of course I'm the benevolent dictator, what the freak did you expect -- spamming would be illegal, under the category of "abuse of community resources," which on an isolated space station would be a pretty serious crime...

    ...punishable by deportation to Earth.

  • Unfortunately, there ARE jobs stuffing envelopes. Stop by your local temp agency and ask them. My girlfriend is currently making $7 an hour stuffing envelopes during christmas break (from college). Fun stuff from what it sounds.... or something.... :-)

    Justin Dubs
  • I would call fraud a very real crime. The main point of fraud is selling something under false pretense. Generaly fraud is directed at the people who can least afford it, the old, immigrants etc. Let the bastards rot.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, I can already hear the Libertarian contingent of slashdot crying out in protest now, about how it is these people's God Given Right to send 500,000 emails all around the world at the press of a button. After all, this is legitimate enterpreuerial activity, is it not?

    Let's have a look at some of the spam I get daily. "MAKE MONEY FAST!! - LEGITIMATE HOME INCOME OPPORTUNITY!". "Are you READY - For a 10 INCH PENIS??". "Re: The information you requested".

    Every single person involved, anywhere along the line, in this shit reaching my mailbox should be summarily executed without trial. No questions asked, no tears shed. Maybe make them do a few years hard labour first, fine - as long as their eventual fate is to be put up against a wall and shot repeatedly in the torso and genitalia, I don't care.

    Write a letter to your congressman, and Fuhrer Bush, and tell them you want action NOW on getting the death penalty written into spam propagation laws. It's the humane thing to do.

  • sorry, your point is overexaggerated and worthless. Drug smugglers and dealers and lords, murderers, rapists, and kidnappers do much more damage to society than fraudulant idiots...

    But what do I know?
  • They may have been sentenced to two years, but that may have been suspended due to the plea agreement. Why would the prosecutor would go into a plea agreement to find out how they spammed? Everyone KNOWS how spam is sent and how spammers work. The problem is how to FIX the problem without breaking email for everyone else....

    Most spammers just use poorly configured email systems (or email systems running VERY outdated software) in random contries around the world. Many of these systems don't log or validate connections so it makes things VERY difficult to deal with.

    Several things have to change before the spam problem will go away.

    • ALL ISP's need to block outgoing port 25 from cablemodems / DSL / dialups. Require users to use the ISP's mail servers. Exceptions can be made for "powerusers" who sign a contract. (this can happen NOW and could drastically reduce spam today.)
    • ISP's need to install rate limiters / spam detection on the mail servers (this can also happen today.)
    • Get everyone to upgrade to secure DNS and authenticated SMTP for server to server transactions. (This will take a couple years.)
    It's not hard, but it may take pressure from congress to force ISP's to enact these measures. ISP's are unwilling to do things themselves as they are too busy making money off spammers, and they are lazy. Make the ISP's liable for SPAM and THEN they will act.
  • by TheFlu ( 213162 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:02AM (#533503) Homepage
    Hate SPAM? Dont we all! Well now you can actually do something to prevent spamming! That's right, but this offer won't last forever, so act now before it's too late. For the introductory low, low price of only $19.95, you can rest assured that you will never receive another SPAM email again. Simply send your Visa or Mastercard number to this address [mailto]. Hurry, before it's too late!

    Penguins love Salmon, but hate the taste of SPAM. The Linux Pimp []

  • I understand that spam can be annoying sometimes, but I can usually tell which are spam and which are actual messages directed to me by reading the subject. I simply check off all the spam and click "delete". At most, I've wasted 30 seconds out of my day. While I don't think spamming is the best way of making potential customers aware of your product or services (I personally don't purchase anything from spammers), I believe strongly in the First Amendment right of free speech and I believe that all speech, be it good or bad, should be protected.

    I think it's absolutely rediculous that people are actually being thrown in jail for exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech. I vaguely recall hearing that it costs the government somewhere around $35,000/yr to keep someone in jail. I damn sure don't want my hard earned dollars going towards this travesty of freedom. Our prisons are crowded enough as they are, shouldn't we be spending our tax dollars putting real criminals behind bars. You anti-spam people are so adamant about doing "whatever it takes" to prevent spam, but it gets to the point where the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. Perhaps you should take a step back from your crusade for a moment and think again about the way our country is today when a spammer gets locked up and the rapists, murderers and drug users out there are roaming around, free to prey on our children and loved ones.

  • Well fundamentaly this is not a "Net" crime, this is fraud, using the Internet. If I do something that is illegal in the real world but do it online that should not make it any less Illegal.

    For example if I were to call you and say "I hate you and am Going to kill you" I can reasonably expect the cops to be knocking on my door. I don't see why it should be any different if sent you an email that said the same thing.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • sorry about that bold tag. I was pretty pissed when I wrote that and I should have proofread it.
  • So where did I say they went to jail for spamming? How about you reading the post?

    OK, perhaps I should have posted what I posted in

    I just came across an article that reports that two spammers got two years in jail each for fraud

    I'll nevertheless insist that what is relevant in this context is that they were spammers, and that they advertized their scam by mass e-mail.

  • true, but the tone of the slashdot post as well as the overall mood here is that spamming itself should be illegal as well. I think illegalizing mass-email itself is really dangerous, since such a law can likely be stretched by those in power to inhibit the electronic versions of things like policial campaigns, anti-government/corporate protests, boycotts, etc.
  • by Nehemiah S. ( 69069 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:08AM (#533509)
    The war on drugs qua drugs and drug users qua drug users is ridiculous. People should be able to do anything that doesn't hurt others- which means that we should definitely have a war on drug addicts who murder, rape, rob, etc., but only on those people, not on harmless druggies. Money laundering is a crime which hurts me by masking crime or by forcing me to pay higher taxes, therefore it should be enforced as well.

    Spamming hurts me in less tangible ways- they eat my time and my bandwidth. I think that spammers should be fined, not jailed, at a rate proportional to the amount the person reading the emails would have earned in the amount of time he spent reading the email (say one second per word, with a minimum fine on the order of $.50). People could rate their email addresses at whatever amount the wished to, and the spammers could decide what price they were willing to pay to broadcast their spam. People who didn't pay the fines should go to jail.

    That would bring unsolicited email barriers to entry up to the level of USPS mail, and help to solve the problems (as well as make me some money, fast.)

  • Yes, but does the Constitution give the right for you to use my resources to communicate your message? Does this mean that if I am a book binder, that every book I print has to have a section somewhere that you are allowed to scribble whatever you want to in? So that my means of data transport is supporting your message?

    Translation: When my mail server, including my bandwidth that I bought and my diskspace to cache your mail, is in subjugation to your spam email, I don't think it is any longer in the purview of Constitutional protection.

    Consider instead putting up a website (where you pay for your own diskspace and bandwidth) and then putting listings to your website into popular search engines, even putting info into newsgroups intended for the purpose. But don't try to use my resources to push your message.

  • There are scams, schemes, and all kinds of other ways to make money on the Internet. Many people feel that spam is the best way to go, as they can reach millions of people (as it was shown in the article mentioned here). If e-tailers were smart (and there are some out there), they would be able to increase their sales and reduce their advertising expenses at the same time by just offering referral programs to their customers. Word of mouth advertising has been around since the dawn of commerce, and will never go away.
  • I have to disagree, I stuffed many an envelope when I was a poor student back in '94-'95. Of course, that wasn't my only job duty and I wasn't Working From Home. Nonetheless....

    I even asked the boss once, why I (I was working alone) was stuffing envelopes by hand when there are machines that do the same thing. He said something about how people were more likely to open an envelope that had been stamped by a human (actual physical stamp, applied less than perfectly aligned).
    MailOne []
  • For those who haven't seen it yet, this is a great resource for reporting spam. []
  • by Zachary Kessin ( 1372 ) <> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:10AM (#533514) Homepage Journal
    Yes it is. The problem with arguing this from a free speach point of view is this. You are free to go stand on a soap box on a corner and rant about whatever you feal like, simmilarly you can make up flyers and post them around town. That is protected.

    The problem is that if I send 10,000 emails or more via 1 ISP you have used a lot of the resources of that ISP. You have basicly made them support you free speach. Which you do not have the right to do. Similarly if you send a letter to the editor of a newspaper he does not have to print it. So while SPAM may cost you or me as end users a few seconds of time in the case of an ISP it may tie up a mail server for hours, during which time other emails are being delayed.

    The other thing is that just because we are arresting spamers (And in this case it appears that fraud was what they were arrested for) it does not mean that we are not also hunting down Murderers and Rapists.

    The cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • by Sand_Man ( 81150 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:11AM (#533515)
    CLANK. Lock
    "uh, hi."
    "Hi, you gotta' be my new cell mate."
    "Well, yes. What are you in for?"
    "Simple Assualt, but I didn't do it. What're you in fer?"
    "Spamming, you know, sending out large volumes of unsolicited e-mail from my computer."
    "Uh-huh. Say, yer hands are soft, kinda' like a girl."
    "Uh, gee, umm, thanks, er....."
    "And yer kinda pertty, too, how long you in fer."

    Tune in tomorrow for the exciting day 2 of In tomorrows episode we find out if SpamGuyInJail picks up the soap or just leaves it on the shower floor.

  • -egg and Bacon
    -Egg, sausage and bacon
    -Egg and Spam
    -Spam, egg, sausage and spam
    -Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Baked Beans, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam
  • Talk about slanting a story. They were put away for the scam, not the spam.

    That aside, advocating putting people in prison for annoying business practices doesn't exactly jive well with having liberal free speech rights attitudes. If they've got the right to mail me advertising crap via snail then they damn well should have the right to do so via email. Whether I like getting the stuff or not.

    It would be nice to see some sort of "party line" attitude when it comes to these Internet Free Speech Issues... but I don't think it'll ever happen.

  • They where not jailed for spam. clearly slashdot put that in the headlines because they knew it would get people excited.
    Spam has been ruled as protected as free speech.
    Get over it.
    I hate spam as much as the next guy, and I'm not sure if this is bad or good. I want free speech protected, and if we make spam illegal what next?
    besides, I would rather get spam, than the damn dead tree ads I get in the mail.
    What I would like to know is did they get more time because the used a computer in this crime, then they would have if they used the Postal service?
    I think as a community we need to be watching out for sentences that are substantial longer for a crime committed on a computer then a simialar crime without one.
  • Figures, that comming from somebody that won't identify themselves.

    excuse me if I don't like to see links all over my site, and links to pictures of penises.

  • I sit across a very thin wall from the Pitney-Bowes machine you are referring too. It's a sweet machine but it has two problems that create human jobs stuffing envelopes: 1) It costs a half million bucks 2) It has major trouble doing fancy "non-standard" things that humans can do easily (like putting a card inside a folded letter).

    Another thing keeping these machines out of normal office space is that it's about 25 feet long and runs at 90 decibles.

  • Not that I'm a Xian or anything, but isn't the lowest frozen level of Hell (according to Dante) the place where commiters of fraud go? (Personally I agree with you, but wanted to stir the pot a bit.)

    "I'm not a bitch, I just play one on /."
  • by nchip ( 28683 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @10:29AM (#533527) Homepage
    If spam is such a nice thing, why do most spammers fake their headers, their from address and obfuscate the url on the body? Why do spammers connect to internet with accounts they got with fake ID:s. Why do they abuse open relays to hide the real origin of the mail?

    I don't think freedom of speech covers speech with fake identity.
  • The free speech argument came up, IIRC, during the junk fax trials. Basically:
    • Commercial solicitations are not protected speech
    • The government may not restrict your right to freedom of expression, but you may not force anyone to listen to you. Furthermore, you may not force other people to pay to read/hear your views without their approval.

    The only point spammers are making is "I am an inconsiderate bastard, and the cost of my advertising campaign will be yours entirely". They sure get the point across, but for the reasons outlined above, it's not protected speech under the first amendment.

  • ==
    This was a pretty liberal judge as it turns out, he had a laptop on his desktop the whole time. My cousin thought he saw what looked like gnome running on it but he couldn't be sure.

    ... and let me guess, Netscape was open and it looked like the judge was browsing slashdot.

  • They got jailed for *FRAUD* not for spamming.

    According to the article, they plead guilty to fraud back in December '99. Either it took 12 months for them to get sentenced or there was more to this case than just the fraud. The article implies that the impact their behavior had on several ISPs was a factor (either as a charge that didn't get explicitly mentioned by the article or a contributing factor during sentencing). I'd argue that the article is less than clear on the issue and most likely this was a detail that didn't overly concern the reporter.

  • Actually, its not really much of a mystery HOW. The reason these scams are still so prevalant is they work VERY well (for the scammer anyways). There are a lot of people in this world that will do almost anything for an easy buck that they will jump on any scam they are offered, sending in money blindly. Then when it doesn't work out, they'll jump on the next scam, even if it doesn't differ from the first one. This has been going on for years, even before the internet was popular.

    Consider the fact though, 12,000 out of 50 million really isn't THAT many. A junk mailer doing this through the postal service wouldn't stand a chance of even recovering his money, let alone making a significant profit. But spam, its all gravy. That is why spam will continue to be prominant.

    I do approve of the method of shutting them down though. Many times you don't even have to attack the act of spamming as most spammers are disreputable to begin with, and there is certainly some other legal issue you can snag them on.

  • Yes, you can make $1 per envelope stuffed. Just take out a classified ad that says "Make money stuffing envelopes at home! Send $1 for information to P.O. Box 1234" Collect the dollar from every sucker you hook, and send them a copy of this set of instructions. It's not even fraud! ;)
  • Alan Greenspan says the Happy Words and I make a pile of money.

    Two spammers in the slammer, gettin' to know real market penetration with Bubba.

    All is right with the world.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @11:07AM (#533542)
    (snip "spam iz free speach" argument)

    "Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or to view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit. . . We therefore categorically reject the argument that a vendor has the right under the Constitution or otherwise to send unwanted material into the home of another. . . We repeat, the right of a mailer stops at the outer boundary of every person's domain."

    - United States Supreme Court, Rowan vs. U.S. Post Office, 1970
    Whether or not you agree with me that spam is theft by trespass to chattel, the US Supreme Court has long since ruled that unsolicited commercial mailings -- even when paid for by the vendor (as opposed to spam, where the cost is borne by the recipient) is emphatically not afforded protection under the First Amendment.

    Spam is not free speech. Hasn't been for 30 years. Now go away, troll, or I shall feed you a second time ;-)

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @11:12AM (#533545) Homepage
    that my tax dollars are going to feed these spammers and clothe them (in prison uniforms) and heat their cells, etc.

    I think we ought to at least recoup the costs.

    How many of you out there would pay for membership to the site:

    "Live webcam: hot teenage spammer jailbirds getting their asses raped day and night."

    sounds like a winner to me.
  • I'd definitely buy into this if I could type a taunt on a web page and have it displayed on one of those LCD banners outside their cell for them to read. Or perhaps a mechanical vegetable catapult that you could use to pelt them with rotting vegetables. That'd be worth a few bucks a month to me...
  • >Drug smugglers and dealers and lords, murderers, rapists, and kidnappers do much more damage to society than fraudulant idiots...

    Please differentiate your crimes. While I agree the original poster was a bit over-the-top, he's got a point.

    Spam is theft - spammers steal resources from ISPs and recipients and deliver a "product" nobody wants.

    Fraud is, well, fraud - merely a more sophisticated form of theft, whereby the theft is accomplished by deceiving the "mark", rather than brute force, such as abusing an open relay.

    Drug "crimes" - well, if the stuff were legal and regulated (umm, like alcohol and tobacco), the "smugglers" wouldn't have jobs, and the "dealers" would be regular guys behind the counter of your local grocery store. Drug "lords" would just be CEOs of, umm, tobacco companies? ;-)

    If your argument is that "drug folks" cause harm to users of drugs, might I remind you that most of those drug users choose to use their drug of choice? They're not victims, they're customers.

    If your argument is that "drug folks" cause harm to the rest of us, might I ask you to differentiate between the harm caused by the individuals on drugs (drunk/stoned drivers), as opposed to the harm caused by crimes (usually theft) committed by users to either (a) obtain drugs at artificially-inflated prices, or (b) the crimes (usually murder/assaults) committed by those in the industry to protect marketshare/turf. Legalization would likely greatly cut down on both of these forms of harm.

    Unlike drug users, however, murderers, rapists and kidnappers all cause harm without the consent of their victims.

    And in that respect (my own turn for hyperbole), the murderer, rapist, and kidnapper really do have more in common with the spammer (a variant of "thief") than individuals involved in the (illicit) drug industry.

    (Of course, if you wanna nail the Board of Directors of $BIG_TOBACCO_INC for fraud for saying that smoking tobacco doesn't cause cancer, I'm with ya. At least your local drug dealer has the integrity to say "y'know, this shit'll kill ya!" as you fork over the dough :-)

  • Your argument is flawed.

    France is a country doing something on the behalf of its people, not a person itself. It's quite possible that there are a few people in France who want Nazi or KKK regalia for whatever reason. France has taken it upon itself to tell those people that they cannot purchase these items. This is obviously an issue based in subjective morality - in other words, France thinks it knows what's better than its citizens. This may or may not be true, but it's not really the issue here.

    On the other hand, spam is by definition not solicited. It is unwanted and unasked for. It is also effectively a form of 'postage due' advertising, where the recipient pays the cost of distribution and storage. And while Yahoo only takes money from those who want the products advertised within, spam is (once again, by definition) sent to people who aren't given the opportunity to opt-out before they ever see or pay for it.

    Your analogy would be correct if France were complaining about Yahoo forcing people to pay for Nazi and KKK stuff they didn't want. This is not the case.

    Spam is not and never has been about content. I don't care if it's porn or something from a mainstream corporation - it's about cost shifting, not the content itself. It's about not being forced to effectively pay for the extra resource consumption your ISP incurs via higher usage fees.

    (note: I work as an abuse handler at a mid-sized web hosting company, and know that we could afford to charge our customers less if spammers didn't take up so much time and resources)

    - Jeff A. Campbell
  • by dmuth ( 14143 ) <> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @11:43AM (#533558) Homepage Journal [].

    In addition to have a witty domain name <g>, it also contains information on existing state laws [] which can be used to sue a spammer in court.

    Share and enjoy.

  • "We repeat, the right of a mailer stops at the outer boundary of every person's domain."

    The language from that ruling is actually suitable for unmodified application to spam.

  • Perhaps you should ask for your money back? I'm sure the Slashdot crew would be more than happy to give you a refund of the subscription fees they've asked you for...

    Of course, you may also consider not coming here any longer, if it's so bad. You've been complaining about the quality of Slashdot for some time now.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
  • >ALL ISP's need to block outgoing port 25 from cablemodems / DSL / dialups. Require users to use the ISP's mail servers. Exceptions can be made for "powerusers" who sign a contract. (this can happen NOW and could drastically reduce spam today.)

    Amen. If forced their "resellers" (typically large ISPs who lease POPs from to block port 25, spam would probably drop by 40-50%.

    Uunet is the source of 90% of the spam on the 'net today. Has been ever since Dialsprint blocked port 25. Unlike Dialsprint, has consistently opposed port 25 blocking, and has refused to block it for more than three years.

    Props to Dialsprint for doing the right thing, even if it was six months late. As for, they can felch these two jailbird spammers' asses after Bubba's done fucking 'em. One load for every spam their customers send.

    Aaw, hell, who am I kidding? Even that's too good for Just firewall every IP they own at the router, and use procmail to bounce any mail with a IP address in any header to as a spam report. When was the last time anybody actually got legitimate mail from a user on a dialup anyways?

  • Just a wee bit OT, but the 8th circle, Malebolge, is for people who commit fraud. The 9th frozen level is for traitors - with Brutus, Cassius, and Judas being munched on by Satan in the middle.

    Disclaimer: IANAX, either.

  • ---
    I believe strongly in the First Amendment right of free speech and I believe that all speech, be it good or bad, should be protected.

    I'm a big proponent of the First Amendment (I voted libertarian this time around and support the EFF), but this has absolutely nothing to do with free speech.

    Spam is analogous to someone running up to you, telling you something, and taking a few cents from your pocket each time without your permission.

    Who do you think pays for all of that bandwidth, server space, administrative time, etc? The spammer? Nope. Your ISP does - and then pass on the cost to you. And what if a spammer uses the same ISP as you do? You pay for that too, as many spammers split without paying their bill or utilize a ton of bandwidth before leaving. Multiply this by the thousands of spammers out there, and it's obviously a big problem.

    It's not free speech. It's theft.

    Also remember that free speech doesn't give you the right to enter someone's property to spout off at them, which is exactly what spam entails. Just as a theater owner can boot you out of his establishment, don't tell me that I have to put up with (and pay for) someone else's speech in my own mailbox.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
  • No, Washington (state) law does NOT have that provision. It got struck down by the court about a year ago over state to state jurisdictional issues when the state's prosecuting attorney tried to LART a spammer in Oregon.

    IANAL-BILIW I am not a lawyer, but I live in WA
  • If you carefully re-read his (admittedly poorly worded) comment, I think you will find you can have confidence in moving into that nice three-bedroom Victorian. Just don't move the three kilos of hashish down in your basement into it.
  • Stop Prisoner Rape [] has more information along the lines of what you're looking for. I don't think you'll find it as pleasing as you hope, though.

    -1, Offtopic and bang goes some Karma, never to be recovered, but prisoner rape is less funny than you might imagine.
  • by Darchmare ( 5387 ) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @01:04PM (#533593) Homepage
    I don't know anyone who pays per byte per Internet access so it's not costing me anything at all.

    It doesn't matter. Most ISPs and email providers don't charge that way. They take the average bandwidth and resource consumption of all users combined and factor that into their rates. If each user used fewer resources, they wouldn't have to charge quite as much.

    In the end, if one person uses up more bandwidth, either the other users are given less bandwidth to consume or they are charged for it with higher base level prices. Generally the latter.

    Also, this isn't counting the fact that many ISPs need full time handlers to deal with the complaints, extra servers to deal with the load, and so on. Just because there isn't a section on your bill labeled "Cost due to spam" doesn't mean you're not paying for it.

    It seems like a lot of the slashbots have started this crusade to stop all spammers at any cost, even if that means wasting government resources and what few empty beds we have in our nation's jails

    I agree with you that prosecution should be a last resort, but to be honest with you I think spammers deserve the jail time more than most of those charged with petty offenses. No matter how small you believe it to be, what spammers do is no different than theft. Most of them are con men (securities fraud, pyramid schemes, etc) as well.

    Either way, it's nice to see that you worry about government resources. So do I. But don't you think user resources are important as well? And remember, the government is there to hear our grievences - that's what they are paid for. But I'm certainly not being paid to hear about someone's "Make Money Fast" scheme. In fact, I pay for it.

    Even as we speak, there are literally, millions of people with swollen stomachs in the final stages of starvation

    This is a false argument, based on the assumption that if we don't delete spam or turn in spammers that suddenly the other ills of the world would receive more attention. That's a pretty dubious argument.

    You can turn it around, though - if I didn't spend so much time "just pushing delete" I would have more time to spend volunteering time and money to charity. You could even say that the extra processor time spent processing incoming spam uses up electricity, which means more factories churn polluting smoke into the air.

    See how silly that sounds?

    It doesn't take 30 seconds to delete victims of genocide or ethnic cleansings from your inbox, so obviously what you can't see from the comfort of your living room doesn't matter

    Are you a horrible person because you're spending time posting to Slashdot instead of, say, volunteering time at the United Way or flying relief missions in Bosnia? If you're going to take up so much time preaching this kind of ill logic, you should consider spending that time on something more meaningful (like devoting every single moment of your life sacrificing your own rights because others have it worse).

    It's this attitude that will eventually lead to the end of humanity if we don't do something to stop it.


    The end of humanity, because we hold people accountable for their actions?

    I think it's a good idea to get involved in what you believe is right, but damn is it really worth it to harass all the spammers.

    Harass them? I just report them, and deal with those that are reported to me. Are you willing to extend your argument to those who are more visible in their theft? Should we stop harassing bank robbers because someone is starving in Africa? Come on. I'm not saying that spamming is of quite the same scale, but the principle (and morality) is about the same. People have no right to make someone pay for something they didn't ask for.

    ...and since you didn't mention it in your reply, I'm going to assume that you've rethought your freedom of speech argument.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
  • Hrm. Nope, it's probably better just to complain a lot over an extended period and yet never actually leave.

    I have to admit, though, your blatant sarcasm is sometimes amusing. :>

    - Jeff A. Campbell
  • It's not like everyone has a certain ammount of money/time that they're willing to put into any charitable cause, for which all causes compete. It's not a zero-sum equation.

    If I'm willing to send $50 to the EFF, that doesn't mean that if the EFF wasn't there I'd send $50 to another charity. It means that the EFF supports a cause that interests me and that I wish to support.

    That's all independent from starving children, or any other cause.
  • 9/12/21/emails1221_01.html APB reported this on 12/21/1999.... Sentencing was set for April 24, 2000... Could we please get some up to date news?
  • They should name the suckers on national television as a warning to others >:)
  • I guess it depends who you look at. I know I often take time out of my day to try and skewer Randite-style fascists on Slashdot- but my anarchistic view is not Darwinism, but community. Anarchism is _meaningless_ except in the context of a community, and in that context it means 'you have to maintain good relations with those you encounter, instead of simply asserting authority and stomping those in your path'.

    From this perspective, spamming is a particularly ugly form of asserting authority. "You can't stop me! Read more benchmark print supply spam! Store it on your hard disk, use your electricity for me!" This is authoritarian in a primitive way.

    As for the jail: I dunno. What would you rather they do? I prefer the spammers to be jailed rather than lynched by a mob of Slashdotters, frankly. It's more socialist to maintain a community punishment mechanism than to make it the responsibility of the individual to exact vengeance.

  • From the article:
    Internet providers, including AOL, AT&T and Mindspring, were besieged by customer complaints and their systems were threatened by the overload.

    HellDesk: How can I help you?
    Irate Customer: I received an e-mailing asking for a £24 "processing fee" in exchange for a chance to work at home stuffing envelopes! So naturally I sent 24 pounds to Shklovskiy and Shtok in Los Angeles!
    HellDesk: Sir, the problem is in your brain. You must have gotten one of these substandard and shoddy brains.
    Irate Customer: OK, so how do I replace this brain thingy?
    HellDesk: Do you have a large butcher knife?
    Again from the article:
    Authorities said Shklovskiy and Shtok devised a way to use personal computers equipped with commercially available software to "harvest" electronic mail addresses.

    I would be happier if the article said, "The suspects used a technique called spamming. Spamming is ..."
    This kind of description somehow feeds off of, and into the demonization of computer activity. I'm irritated by the wide-eyed naivete of 'found a way' in several ways. It's somehow similar to the way spammers never use the words spam or UCE in their websites; rather they refer to 'bulk e-mailing' or other ambiguous term.
    I guess in a broader sense it's part of reporters' general failure to supply the context of what they report.
  • BTW, there are no jobs stuffing envelopes.

    That's not true.

    I know people who have stuffed envelopes, at home, for perfectly legitimate businesses such as medical equipment manufacturers and universities. Pay ranged from 1-2 cents to 15 cents per envelope, depending on how many items went into each envelope. For one person, this meant an hourly rate of anywhere from $15 to $30, but she was a particularly efficient envelope-stuffer. I assume that people who weren't efficient would drop out of the business.

    So, yes, there are legitimate jobs stuffing envelopes, and, no, you probably won't find them in the classified ads.

  • So to sum up, we should have rights to own guns and sell Nazi stuff on Yahoo, but we should be locked up for sending lots of email.

    Oh, puh-leeze. The correct summation is, "we should have rights to possess and trade our own property and labor, but we should be locked up if we steal goods and services from others".

    (There is some controversy about patents and copyrights, but that debate is about the exact boundaries of what constitutes "stealing", not whether or not stealing per se is acceptable.)

    The idea that a company would voluntarily* censor the sale of racist knick-knacks on a computer system is an ominous sign that "1984" is near
    *This was due to government pressure from France

    The idea that someone would argue that "voluntary" is synonymous with "coerced" is a rather more striking parallel to 1984.

  • ---
    I don't agree with Singer, but I did want to point out that this argument is not ridiculous -- or at least that professional ethicists take this argument quite seriously.

    Perhaps the argument wasn't so ridiculous (although it strikes me as the result of a middle-class guilt complex more than any real altruism), but the fact that someone was spending time posting on Slashdot chastising people who simply prefer not to support resource theft.

    Real altruism comes with actually doing things for other people, not pointing out how selfish others are so that others are reminded of how superior your ethics are. I respect those who help others day in and out far more than those who prefer to sit around and talk about it.

    While giving to others is great (and a good thing to strive for), I have no sympathy for anyone who thinks they deserve charity from others. It's the people who don't have any choice in their station in life (particularly children) who deserve the most help.

    I just get annoyed at blowhards, trying to impose their ideal society on the rest of the world. All we're trying to do is avoid a little spam. If he has a problem with the wasted time, perhaps he should be pissed at spammers - without them, we wouldn't have to filter it out.

    - Jeff A. Campbell
  • the victims who purchase commercial software from people not smart enough to set up a mail server to not be an open relay

    But the creators of such software are certainly not "victims" they are "fools". In order to make a relaying SMTP system involved extra coding in the first place. There are no good reasons at all to ship the product with relaying (let alone open relaying) turned on by default.
    I'm not even sure that the people who buy such software are really "victims". More incompetants pretending to by sys admins.
  • Spamming hurts me in less tangible ways- they eat my time and my bandwidth. I think that spammers should be fined, not jailed, at a rate proportional to the amount the person reading the emails would have earned in the amount of time he spent reading the email (say one second per word, with a minimum fine on the order of $.50).

    Remember though that many spammers also enguage in other criminal activities, such as fraud.
  • Ok, so they got nailed for fraud, and not for the spam itself.

    The sending of spam typically involves some kind of fraud anyway.
  • ALL ISP's need to block outgoing port 25 from cablemodems / DSL / dialups. Require users to use the ISP's mail servers. Exceptions can be made for "powerusers" who sign a contract. (this can happen NOW and could drastically reduce spam today.)

    Third party relaying (incuding ISP provided third party relays) are part of the problem. As they were never part of the spec in the first place, my solution would be to get rid of all of them. If you want to send SMTP email you then have only one choice, follow RFC974. Without mass third party relaying any email who's headers show it has been through a third party relay will be obvious. (A popular spammer technique is to make the spammers real machine look like a third party relay. It's also slower to send the same message to multiple recipients directly than through a third party relay. (especially if the spammers machine also has to process identd queries for every one.)

    ISP's need to install rate limiters / spam detection on the mail servers (this can also happen today.)

    It's far easier to do this through routers. Forced third party relaying adds a bottleneck for everyone, spammers are rarely a majority of users. Another part is to reduce the usage of dynamic IP addresses (and make any dynamic IP addresses less "dynamic"). Thus making it harder for a spammer to hide by changing IP address frequently.

    Get everyone to upgrade to secure DNS and authenticated SMTP for server to server transactions. (This will take a couple years.)

    If this is workable then third party relays are still redundant.
    • ALL ISP's need to block outgoing port 25 from cablemodems / DSL / dialups. Require users to use the ISP's mail servers. Exceptions can be made for "powerusers" who sign a contract. (this can happen NOW and could drastically reduce spam today.)
    • ISP's need to install rate limiters / spam detection on the mail servers (this can also happen today.)
    Are these your ideas, or have they been floating around? I'm not being sarcastic. These strategies don't seem to have come up before, but the more I think about them, the more I see the basis for a very effective anti-spam effort.

    Most ISPs are profoundly anti-spam, at least on paper. But what effect does that have? Spammers have plenty of time to generate thousands of messages before somebody notifies the ISP and they lose the account. If they're a serious commerical spammer, they just move on to another ISP. If they're victims of some scam ("For only $99.99, I can show you how to make big bucks on the Internet!"), they're soon replaced by another sucker.

    Now, suppose your ISP had a port 25 filter, and you had to pay a deposit (refundable after 1 spam-free year) to bypass it. The professionals are going to be a lot more selective. And the get-rich-quick suckers (and judging from the spam I get, they account for about 90%) are simply going to disappear.

    The same applies to rate limiters, but the deposits would have to be a lot higher.

    The best part about this approach is that it places no limitation on content. Nobody can claim censorship. Which, incidentally, is not any nicer coming from an ISP than from the government.

    All we need to do is get existing anti-spam organizations (my persoal favorite is SpamCop []) to change their agitation from "Please punish your spamsters" to "Please make your spam policies proactive instead of retroactive."



  • C'mon, take yourself out of your shoes as submitter of this story and check out the Slashdot home page.

    OK. You know, given previous posts on /., I was pretty sure they were going to post this story, so I rushed too much. I was karma whoring, okay? Everybody does this! ;-) Seriously, I'm going to take your critizism into account. Besides, I'm up to 50 now, so why should I be karma whoring anymore? :-)

    pam logo, headline about spammers, saying they were "jailed for two years after sending 50 e-mails." That's about as accurate as saying they were "jailed for two years after eating at Denny's that morning" — both are factually true, but neither shows any cause and effect: they were jailed for two years because they were running a scam, not because they spammed people.

    OK, but it a bit more relevant than that. Quite a lot of my spam, and that's several a day, are of the same nature, I'm pretty sure you would see a majority of spammers locked up.

    Not that I like jails.

    I don't like getting spammed, but for people around here to applaud jailtime for someone just because having to delete a few emails is an inconvenience, while bemoaning all these other "freedoms" that they supposedly have taken away from them all the time, well it just seems pretty hypocritical.

    You have obviously not beern spammed very hard. At least you haven't seen spammers destroy communities that are easy to spam because they have to be open, that you have built with years of effort. It's not about deleting a few e-mails anymore, I have very reliable filters that can do that. If spammers have their way, they will make e-mail useless for everyone within a few years, that's what I'm fighting.

    I mean, my parents have a very low net profile, contrary to me, but for them, the signal to noise ratio is allready approaching the level where e-mail is just about useless, and all they get is American spam, scams, porn, MLM, and so on.

When you are working hard, get up and retch every so often.