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Spammers Admit Sending UCE to AOL Subscribers

A Brooklyn man has admitted of violating the CAN SPAM Act, the federal law that prohibits spam. He was facing trial in Manhattan federal court.

The charges accusing Adam Vitale, 26, and his co-conspirators are that they sent out a huge volume of unsolicited commercial e-mails (UCE) via the Internet to nearly 1.2 million e-mail addresses of AOL (America Online). They also hid the actual source of those spam mails.

Michael J. Garcia, U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York said that Vitale and his partner Todd Moeller were in touch with a govt confidential informant through the instant messaging (IM). The two parties had reached an agreement for permission to spam out e-mail advertisements for a certain product in return of sharing half of the ensuing profits. Vitale and his friend then distributed around 1.2 million junk e-mails to AOL subscribers over the period from August 17 to August 23, 2005. The pair changed the senders' addresses on the e-mails and sent them from different PCs to hide the original source of the e-mails.

Forensic examination of the spam mails suggested that Vitale and Moeller used two separate techniques that prevented the recipients from identifying the source of the spam mails. This helped them to carry on with their illicit activity. They used Internet-connected PCs to relay the spam mails that appeared to look from those PCs and not the actual ones tracing to Vitale and Moeller. The men changed the header information in their unsolicited e-mails that helped to appear that the e-mails arrived from a different sender and not the real people.

A sentence, bearing imprisonment for a maximum of 11 years, will be announced for Vitale on September 13, 2007. Moeller from New Jersey faces the same punishment.

Adam O'Donnell, director of emerging technologies at Cloudmark Inc. thinks AOL has only won morally and nothing beyond that. PCWorld published O'Donnell's statement on June 12, 2007. Since these kinds of abuses primarily have economic motivations it means some other spammer has come close to make a replacement. It is also likely that this replacement is external to American jurisdiction.

Related article: Spammers Continue their Campaigns Successfully

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