Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and Interim U.S. Attorney Dan Knauss of the District of Arizona announced on Friday that the sentencing of two international pornography spammers is complete. The pair were sentenced to over 5 years in prison by U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell of the District of Arizona.
Both 41 year old men, James R. Schaffer, of Paradise Valley, Arizona, and Jeffrey A. Kilbride, of Venice, California, were ordered to give up $1.1 million in illegally earned money in addition to other fines. AOL Inc is to receive $77,500 in restitution. Over 1.5 million complaints about receiving the raunchy emails were filed with AOL and the FTC. A further $100,000 fine has been handed down by the court.
Kilbride and Schaffer ran a lucrative spamming business by mass emailing millions of internet users with unsolicited messages. These emails contained embedded images of hard-core pornography. Schaffer and Kilbride then earned $1 in commission payments for each new member recruited to the porn website(s) via the emails.
The graphic adult images embedded in the SPAM were immediately visible to anyone opening the email. Internet users from across the country testified about receiving the graphic emails. Some were opened by children. Even those with adult content filters installed on their computers were not spared from viewing the graphic content.
The duo went to great lengths to make the email transmissions’ origins harder to trace after an anti-porn spamming act, the CAN-SPAM Act, was passed in 2003. To try to avoid U.S. prosecution, a fake company was created in the Republic of Mauritius, where money was then funneled through bank accounts. The same scam was run using banks on the Isle of Man.
Such a large undertaking required help, which came in the form of Jennifer Clason, 32, and Andrew Ellifson, 31, of Tempe and Scottsdale Arizona respectively; and Kirk Rogers, 43, of Manhattan Beach, California. Kilbride and Schaffer’s helpers then helped to send them to prison, testifying against their former partners in court.
Instead of outrunning the new Act, the SPAM spreaders are now among the first to be sentenced under it.
They were convicted by a Federal jury of 8 counts in June 2007. It was found that they violated the Controlling the Assault of Non-solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003 in sending spam messages using falsified headers and domain names, conspiracy, fraud, money laundering, and various obscenity charges.
James Schaffer was sentenced to prison for 63 months. Kilbride was also charged with a further count of obstruction of justice for trying to prevent a witness from testifying in the case. He got sentenced to a longer stay in prison for his efforts; 72 months. The three testifying co-conspirators will also serve time in prison.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jill Trumbull-Harris and Bonnie Kane of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Criminal Division, with assistance and support provided by Assistant U.S. Attorney John R. Lopez IV of the District of Arizona. Former CEOS Trial Attorney Kayla Bakshi also participated in the trial of the case. The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and CEOS’ High Tech Investigative Unit.
Sources: U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.USDOJ.gov, PR News Wire