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Lenient Sentence to Men for Extorting Money from MySpace

Two men from New York face accusation of developing code that tracked visitors' activities on MySpace.com and tried to extort $150,000. But on February 26, 2007 they pleaded 'no contest' to hacking computers while defending themselves against prosecution.

Court charged Shaun Harrison, 19, and Saverio Mondelli, 20 belonging to Suffolk County, N.Y. for demanding money from the subsidiary website of News Corp. The pair was selling a code claiming to be an unbreakable version, for $29.95, which they named as consulting fee. MySpace blocked the code after discovering it.

According to Jeffrey McGrath, deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, they relaxed three other charges on the pair that included attempts to extortion and also an unlawful access.

The men traded off access to many editions of the code to computer owners, who could make an application with it into their respective MySpace profiles. The social networking site considers such method of traffic monitoring against its rules.

The court sentenced the culprits with nine days of serving period, individual fines of $200 to $250 and compensation charges of $12,500 to $13,500. It also curtailed Harrison and Mondelli's access to computers i.e., they can't trade identifying software, they must run software that will monitor their PCs, and they can operate from only a single e-mail account, which would be under their probation officers' access.

Superior Court Commissioner Kristi Lousteau admonished the defendants not to violate agreement otherwise they would go to jail. She mandated search regulations on their computers and restricted their access to MySpace.com the right or wrong way. BostonHerald.com published Lousteau's statement on February 27, 2007.

The court devised the agreement leniently considering that the men were young and inadvertently acted thus, and to provide them with another chance.

Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer for MySpace, indicated the site's all-time commitment to user's protection. In e-mail statement Nigam said they were happy with the court's decision and hoped it was a lesson for those who think they can manipulate MySpace community.

McGrath said many other companies also offered such services online but MySpace was always on the job of bringing them down.

Related article: Lamont Cleared of Hacking Charges

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