Virginia Convicts NC Spammers

A North Carolina man and his sister became the first two people convicted of a felony for sending fraudulent unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Jeremy Jaynes and Jessica DeGroot were convicted in a Virginia court Wednesday of sending AOL users millions of unsolicited commercial e-mail messages with falsified routing information to evade AOL's filters. Jurors recommended that Jaynes receive nine years in prison and fined DeGroot $7,500, according to news reports. A third defendant, Richard Rutkowski, was acquitted.

Jaynes and Rutkowski faced up to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines under the indictment brought by Virginia attorney general Jerry Kilgore in December 2003. Kilgore said the state also would seek to recoup profits from the spam.

Virginia authorities tracked down Jaynes through a domain address he registered in Raleigh, NC. The state's charges were brought on the grounds that many of the spam messages sent by Jaynes and Rutkowski were routed through servers in the state, which is home to AOL. The indictments were the first under a tough anti-spam law Virginia passed in July 2003. The law makes sending 10,000 unsolicited messages a day through fraudulent means a felony.

Virginia and other states have passed anti-spam laws based on fraud statutes, which are allowed under the federal CAN-SPAM Act.

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