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First Spammer Convicted Under CAN-SPAM Law 226

Posted by Zonk
from the everyone-else-is-sending-greeting-cards dept.
eldavojohn writes "Spammer Jeffrey Brett Goodin has been convicted under the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, the first person in the U.S. prosecuted successfully under the law. He is facing a sentence of up to 101 years in a federal prison after being found guilty of numerous illegal acts. According to prosecutors, Goodin was convicted on multiple counts in addition to the CAN-SPAM conviction, including wire fraud, unauthorized use of credit cards, misuse of the AOL trademark and attempted witness harassment. From the article: 'The law forbids e-mail marketers from sending false or misleading messages and requires them to provide recipients with a way to opt out of receiving future mailings. During trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Goodin used several compromised Internet accounts to send e-mails to America Online users. The e-mails appeared to be from the company's billing department and told customers to update their billing information or lose service.'"
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First Spammer Convicted Under CAN-SPAM Law

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  • Over the top (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:00PM (#17670310) Homepage Journal
    If this is relating to computer fraud how the fuck can they justify over 100 years of punishment?
    Rapists and murderers get less.

    I don't like spam but ffs that is so harsh.
    • Re:Over the top (Score:4, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:02PM (#17670354) Homepage
      If this is relating to computer fraud how the fuck can they justify over 100 years of punishment? Rapists and murderers get less.

      Rapists and murderers usually rape and murder less people. This douchebag probably targeted millions of people.
      • So if a reasonably well known person, like a media personality annoys enough people, you can use the death penalty on him?
        • Re:Over the top (Score:4, Insightful)

          by garcia (6573) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:11PM (#17670586) Homepage
          So if a reasonably well known person, like a media personality annoys enough people, you can use the death penalty on him?

          You are confusing several important things here:

          1. This has nothing to do w/the death penalty.

          2. He hasn't been sentenced yet. That happens on 6/11. Just because he's been convicted doesn't mean his sentence will be anything close to 101 years.

          3. Fraud isn't just "annoying".
          • 1. It was just a hyperbole

            2. My problem was with your reasoning, not the facts of the case.

            3. That's true, but it's not murder either. I'd require both huge damages and huge numbers of people defrauded in order to sentence someone comparable to a murder conviction, if I were in the position to write the law. My problem was with the reasoning that defrauding lots of people for small amounts is comparable to murder, if the number of people involved is high enough. It's quite a complex issue I'd think, but
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by loganrapp (975327)
              It's not just one crime; it's thousands.

              Really. Every time a misleading or fraudulent e-mail was sent, that's one crime. Now, say you do a crime that's worth one year in jail. Do that a hundred and one times, that's a hundred and one years, seperately.

              Don't think of it as one fraud being given a century; consider it as one fraud, one year. Once you're done with that one - hey, you gotta pay for this one, too, and so on, and so forth.

              Murder and rape - you get bitch-motherfucking-slapped just for that a

              • l. Do that a hundred and one times, that's a hundred and one years, seperately.

                So maybe he'll be sentenced to 101 concurrent 1 year sentences totalling 1 year in jail all together.

                IMO, his crimers are not akin to murder which warrants a life sentence in many states ( at least the ones that lack the death penatly ).
                • Re:Over the top (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @08:00PM (#17673690)
                  IMO, his crimers are not akin to murder which warrants a life sentence in many states

                  And when a diabetic dies becuase he wasn't able to get his insulin as a result of this asshole cleaning out his account? Somebody has to walk a rough neighborhood because slappy mc'spammer here had a great idea on how to afford a big screen TV? When someone can't deal with being rejected from another job because his credit report is a mess and decides to end it?

                  Fraud can have serious real world impact, the fall out from identity theft and stolen money can be devestating to those living on the edge, the majority of Americans. Personally, I have more sympathy for the guy who lost his temper and did something stupid than for the guy who thought destroying people's lives was a great way to make some extra cash.

          • by green1 (322787)
            that's ok... he'll probably get sentanced to 202 6 month sentances to be carried our concurrently... (WTF is with concurrent sentances anyway? do we really want to tell people that it doesn't matter if they do something once or a hundred times it's all the same???) I won't even go in to my thoughts on the parole system as that's a completely seperate rant...
      • We should set up a web site, so people can sign up for
        times to visit him. Spam him with pissed off internet
        users for however much of that 101 years he serves!
    • Re:Over the top (Score:5, Informative)

      by radarsat1 (786772) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:06PM (#17670466) Homepage
      from the summary:
      including wire fraud, unauthorized use of credit cards, misuse of the AOL trademark and attempted witness harassment


      That's a lot more than just sending annoying emails. Basically, the guy is a crook. Why do you have a problem with him going to jail? People do time for things other than violent crime, you know.
      • Re:Over the top (Score:4, Interesting)

        by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:21PM (#17670834)
        When dealing with life sentence/death penalty, the crime has to scale well with murder. Here's why:

        If you are in the process of commiting a crime (in this case intrawebs fraud), and know you will face 100 years in prison for getting caught, what's to stop you from killing anyone who gets in your way? Any other sentences would be inconsiquential. Hell, you might as well try and take down the police who attempt to bring you in. If you manage to get a few, it'd sorta be like a bonus.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130)
          Hell, you might as well try and take down the police who attempt to bring you in. If you manage to get a few, it'd sorta be like a bonus.

          Well, the only thing that I can think of is that then you'd be in the class of cop-killers, one of the groups along with pedophiles, snitches, and cops themselves whose lives are extra-special not-fun in prison.
      • by x2A (858210) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @06:02PM (#17671656)
        "including wire fraud, unauthorized use of credit cards, misuse of the AOL trademark and attempted witness harassment"

        He's being charged with improving their reputation and brand name. Bastard.

    • Re:Over the top (Score:5, Informative)

      by Peyna (14792) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:06PM (#17670478) Homepage
      They're looking at "statutory maximums" and adding together terms that more than likely will be served concurrently.

      In other words, while he could theoretically get 100 years, in reality he's going to probably get 1-2 years tops.
      • The worst they would ever do is put him, for a few months, into a white-collar, minimum-security resort. Do you know, they have conjugal visits there.
        • by Bryansix (761547)
          We get caught laundering money, we're not going to white color resort prison. No, no, no. We're going to Federal pound me in the ass prison
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Eskarel (565631)
            Actually the federal prison is the nice one(in most states), in general fedearal penitentiary's(minimum or otherwise) are substantially less unpleasant than their state run equivilants. Part of this has to do with states trying to save cash on prisons, but it's also got to do with the kind of things that put you there. Murderers and rapists, in fact nearly all violent criminals are prosecuted by the state and incarcerated by the state. Federal offenses tend to be things like embezzlement, and other white c
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:06PM (#17670482) Homepage
      I think so, this is probably a "set an example" type of case. Though it depends on how much money he actually stole; if not a huge amount -- serious criminals even if nobody is killed should get serious punishment, and yes I'm thinking corporate crooks here -- then I'd rather see violent criminals in prison instead of him. But that's just off-the-cuff reaction based on skimming the article.

      Another off-the-cuff reaction: When the mafia lands in court, the witnesses get whacked. How appropriate is it that a spammer can't accomplish any more than witness harassment? I can only imagine his method: Emails stating "Y t3st1fy? Do and no more v14gr4 for U!"
    • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@HORSEop ... minus herbivore> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:07PM (#17670510) Journal

      100 years is probably excessive -- one night might be sufficient...

      Inmate: What'cha in for, buddy?

      Spammer: I... uh... sent people spam emails... about... male enhancement...

      Inmate: That so?!? Hey fellas! Meet my new b*tch... [grinning]

      Spammer: GUARD!!!!!!!!

      • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:14PM (#17670670)
        ........... And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's
        where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after
        committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly
        looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father
        rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And
        they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the
        bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest
        father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly
        'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me
        and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay
        $50 and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?"
        And I said, "Littering." And they all moved away from me on the bench
        there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I
        said, "And creating a nuisance." And they all came back, shook my hand,
        and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
        father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the
        bench. And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of
        things, until the Sargeant came over..........
      • But wait, isn't he the one with the penis mightier pills?

        In Soviet Prison, bubba tosses your salad?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bziman (223162)

      how... can they justify over 100 years of punishment?

      That's a theoretical maximum of getting consecutive sentences of for numerous counts... if he attempted to defraud hundreds of people, it is simply possible that he could get hundreds of years. Unfortunately, these sorts of sentences are rarely handed out for the people who really deserve it -- and I mean the spammers, not the murderers. He'll probably be able to serve many of the sentences concurrently, or he'll make some sort of deal to drop the l

    • If this is relating to computer fraud how the fuck can they justify over 100 years of punishment?
      Rapists and murderers get less.

      Maybe the problem isn't that this spammer's sentence is too harsh, maybe the problem is the sentences handed down to rapists and murderers are are too lenient.
      I don't have a problem with the Enron fraudsters spending the rest of their days behind bars, and the magnitude of fraud that this scumbag is guilty of, is on a similar scale.

      I also hope it's hard-core poundin-in-the-ass prison they send him to, and not some freakin club-fed country club.

    • He's facing UP TO 100 years of punishment -these are typically not given the max.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by inviolet (797804)

      If this is relating to computer fraud how the fuck can they justify over 100 years of punishment?
      Rapists and murderers get less.

      Consider the total social cost of this dirtbag's activities...

      A billion spam emails * 1000 bytes each * ~15 hops each = ~15 TB of traffic

      A billion spam emails * ~33% acceptance by POP3 servers * 1000 bytes each * ~2 weeks stored on disk = ~5 TB-days of disk storage

      A billion spam emails * ~33% acceptance by POP3 servers * 10% penetration of spam filters * 5 seconds for the user


    • If this is relating to computer fraud how the fuck can they justify over 100 years of punishment?

      See, the key phrase in this article is "up to". The journalist or prosecutor arrived at the figure 101 years simply from multiplying the number of crimes he's convicted of by the maximum sentence for each act.

      Simply put, there's no way he'll serve anywhere close to that long. Even if by some insane judge sentences him to 101 years in jail, that's a no-brainer that'll get reduced on first appeal.
      • by x2A (858210)
        "Even if by some insane judge sentences him to 101 years in jail, that's a no-brainer that'll get reduced on first appeal"

        And even if he doesn't, ya just know he's not gonna server the whole 101 years.

    • by Tom (822)
      Rapists and murderers only harm one victim, not millions.

      If you break it down to the number of victims, he's probably getting on the order of minutes per victim. A murderer gets years per victim. I think the ratio is fine there.
      • by soft_guy (534437)

        Rapists and murderers only harm one victim, not millions.
         
        If you break it down to the number of victims, he's probably getting on the order of minutes per victim. A murderer gets years per victim. I think the ratio is fine there.
        Yeah, think about how long you'd be in jail if you sent millions of spam messages that intentionally killed the recipient!
    • by lymond01 (314120)
      Each count brings a possible maximum sentence. Sum them up, and it could be over 100 years. It's called "sensationalism" and is quite prevalent in mainstream news. I'm guessing his sentence will be harsh as an example, but not more than a decade.

      For corporate crooks, they need to start making the punishment fit the crime. If you steal 200 million dollars from your employees retirement before the company goes belly-up, and you get caught: you should be expected to repay that money, PLUS do jail time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by speculatrix (678524)
      if each email received took say 30 seconds to delete *on*average*, multiply that by the millions he sent out. if human lifespan is 80 years, how many lifetimes did he waste? I suspect many lifetimes worth of time wasted.
    • Seriously, who can wait that long for the guy to get truly punished? I'm thinking roadside crucifixion fits this one much better.

      It's all just a joke of course until you become the victim of one of these assholes. Then you find yourself online advocating that they be nailed to a wooden cross next to I-10. Hate doesn't even come close to how I feel about these people.

      If I could ever lay my hands on the guy who stole my identity and spent a couple of weeks writing hot checks across Mississipp
      • by spun (1352)
        I got jumped in Seattle and had my left eye sliced in half. It was hard, but I've forgiven the people that did it. I'm not trying to come across all holier-than-thou, I'm just saying, holding on to your anger is only punishing yourself. If the person who did that to you knew how you felt, do you think they'd feel bad or would they just laugh?

        Until you forgive, you are letting the people who wronged you continue to have power over your life. Forgivness: It's not for them, it's for you.
    • by x2A (858210)
      "how the fuck can they justify over 100 years of punishment?
      Rapists and murderers get less"


      I'd phrase that as "how the fuck can we justify rapists and murders so much less time in prison, when this guy can get over 100 years".

      How quickly someone can get out of prison for destroying a life is where the miscarriage of justice lies.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Depending on how much spam he sent and how long it takes to identify and delete a spam message, amount of time it takes to track down and file a complaint, etc, he probably wasted several lifetimes' worth of time. He's lucky they don't fry him...
    • I would say the law isn't harsh enough against people who commit aggrevated sexual assault and other highly violent crimes. Murder is a rubbery area depending on the motive as people are often driven to extremes by other people.

      Spammers have just about destroyed the usefulness of e-mail. E-mail could have been more of a revolution for human society than what it has become. You could look at this on a global scale as in what it the total amount of negativity that this this person has inflicted on the world

    • First of all, that's "up to 101 years". The perp is still scheduled for his sentencing. The actual sentence may be substantially less than that.

      The perp used a phishing scheme, so he didn't merely annoy people with ads for V1@gr@ but stole credit cards and robbed people.

      Finally, phishers and spammers take hours out of the lives of millions of people, and cost them many millions of dollars, so this is a theft of major proportions. The fact that the perp only got to spend a tiny fraction of that himse

    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      He hasn't even been sentenced yet. The 100 years is just a maximum, likely he'll get much less. And also:

      "In addition to the anti-spam conviction, Goodin was convicted of 10 other counts, including wire fraud, misuse of the AOL trademark and attempted witness harassment."

      Those, especially witness intimidation, are probably the big ticket items.

    • Maybe each piece of spam that broke the law was an considered an infraction of the law and carried a minimum penalty? A couple of million penalties can add up.
  • Durr (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:01PM (#17670330)
    Spamming != Phishing? Why not just hit him for fraud instead, other than to show off their new baby?
    • He did spam, but most of the years he got were for phishing, which is just fraud.

      It would be like if I were to break into someone's house, shoot them, get arrested and the papers were to read "Lord_Slepnir gets Lethal Injection for violating recently passed handgun bill!"

      • He did spam, but most of the years he got were for phishing, which is just fraud.


        He hasn't gotten any years at all yet, he is due to be sentenced (per TFA) on June 11.

        Since, almost certainly, the sentences will run mostly concurrently, it won't really be accurate to say that "most of the years he got" were for one thing or another, since they'll all be the same years.
    • by LoudMusic (199347)

      Spamming != Phishing? Why not just hit him for fraud instead, other than to show off their new baby?
      Yes, what he did was far and away more than simply sending annoying emails. But if they can use "Spammer sent to slammer" in headlines maybe they'll scare the lightweights out of business.
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      In this case he spammed in order to phish. There are other phishing schemes like a man in the middle attack but this one required him to break the Can-Spam act.
      • There are other phishing schemes like a man in the middle attack

        I like your style, sir. Quite the clever pun considering the institution he will be visiting shortly. Question is, does a rusty trombone count as being in the middle?
  • by MrKevvy (85565) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:03PM (#17670394)
    ... Unless the prosecution was for spam alone (ie spam advertising a legal product.) This was just out-and-out fraud. Most spamvertised "products" are illegal anyways (prescription drugs sold without a prescription, phishing, online gambling, etc.) so the CAN-SPAM act isn't needed to prosecute.
    • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:41PM (#17671204) Homepage Journal
      It's a useful precedent: if the convictions under CAN-SPAM do hold up, then it will be easier to go after those whose crimes are purely spamming.

      At least, it used to be the case that there were people whose sole crime was sending out absurd amounts of clearly unwanted email. ("Clearly unwanted" in the sense that they deliberately provided false information in headers and refused to honor opt-out requests. Providing false information in headers was not in and of itself fraudulent.)

      These days, given how much spam goes through bot-nets, there may not be any spammers left who are not guilty of crimes other than sending spam. But it may also be the case that it's hard to convict them on, say, hacking charges, but you could get them on the spam charges.

      And conversely, if the appeals court throws out the CAN-SPAM convictions, even if it keeps the other convictions, we'll know that we have to either rewrite the law or depend on the existing fraud laws.
  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:06PM (#17670472)
    I hope so but...

    Given the creeps anywhere can run these scams outside of N. America, it just means other methods might work better.

    We can start by having ISPs who know computers crunching out a 1000 emails at a time in the middle of the night get dumped off the Internet until the user gets a new hard drive or computer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      We can start by having ISPs who know computers crunching out a 1000 emails at a time in the middle of the night get dumped off the Internet until the user gets a new hard drive or computer.
      That would require a method of ISPs somehow verifying things about the computers or other devices you have hooked up. Lot of worms in that can...
      • That would require a method of ISPs somehow verifying things about the computers or other devices you have hooked up. Lot of worms in that can...

        Simple, just monitor port 25 activity. It's probably pretty lightweight to track only SMTP connections to outside servers (heck, many networks ban them) since most connections are to the ISP's own servers. Then just count recipients, and if it passes a truly outrageous threshold, call the customer to inform them. If it continues at high volume for a day or two,

  • no tax evasion? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by User 956 (568564) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:07PM (#17670502) Homepage
    I'm surprised they didn't get him for tax evasion [msn.com], too. I mean, the IRS even requires that you pay taxes on stolen property.
    • I'm surprised they didn't get him for tax evasion [msn.com], too. I mean, the IRS even requires that you pay taxes on stolen property.

      2006 tax returns are not due unitl April 15th. He hasn't turned in a fraudulant return for his 2006 taxes yet. Can't prosecute for a fraud that has not happened.
  • by alshithead (981606) * on Thursday January 18, 2007 @05:12PM (#17670614)
    This may be a great deterrent for US based spammers but I don't think the foreign based spammers will blink an eye from it.

    I would hope that other governments could make similar examples of spammers based from their countries.
    • the foreign based spammers often collect money on behalf of US-based companies.

      just read the articles out there about how many of the spammers's clients can be traced - what good is a mortgage in, say, Korea, to someone in the USA?

      • "the foreign based spammers often collect money on behalf of US-based companies.

        just read the articles out there about how many of the spammers's clients can be traced"

        Great point. I didn't even think of that. Maybe we should be going after the spammers's clients too.
  • 2003? I thought SPAM had been canned for years...
    • by x2A (858210)
      Oh I get it!

      See I was thinking it should be renamed "CAN'T SPAM"... is kinda misleading to anyone who read it like I did...

  • I was thinking roadside crucifixion fits the bill. I think it's time that good old fashioned punishment like that made a comeback and I can't
  • CAN-SPAM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3@nOSPam.phroggy.com> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @06:02PM (#17671664) Homepage
    You know, the CAN-SPAM Act is often criticized on Slashdot and elsewhere as being toothless and full of loopholes. People think it's a worthless law, because spammers can easily get around it. I disagree. Let me explain.

    First of all, what we really want to avoid is any law that inhibits our right to freedom of speech. It's very easy to write a definition of spam that is overly broad, and applies to legitimate messages as well. Let's assume for the moment that this would be a bad thing. I haven't heard any complaints that CAN-SPAM is flawed in this way.

    The complaints are that CAN-SPAM doesn't go far enough. Spammers could simply change their spam to comply with the provisions of the law, and suddenly their unwanted junk is no longer technically "spam" in the eyes of the law. In theory, this may be true, but in practice, it's not happening. The law has been in effect for three years now, and spammers still aren't even bothering to pretend to comply with the law, they're just continuing to blatantly disregard it. This means that just about all the spam I get in my inbox (plus all the spam that I would have gotten in my inbox if I didn't have a whole pile of filters in place to block it) is clearly defined as illegal according to CAN-SPAM.

    So why am I still getting all this spam? It's not because CAN-SPAM is a bad law. It's not because the spammers have found a loophole, or have changed their spam so it complies with the law. The problem is enforcement: the FTC and FBI don't have the resources to go after these guys. It's been three years, and they've only gotten one conviction.

    Yes, some spammers are based outside the US, and while CAN-SPAM may still apply to them because they're sending spam to Americans, they're outside the jurisdiction of our law enforcement agencies. Several other countries have pledged their support in the International War On Spam(TM), but again, somebody has to actually track down the spammers so they can be arrested, and that's what's not happening.

    So what's the solution? It's not to pass more laws making spam more illegal than it already is. The solution is for Congress to earmark funding for spam investigation and prosecution. They won't think of it themselves, so somebody has to tell them to do it. So, write to your Senators and Representatives, and tell them you want to see better enforcement!

    Now, who's got that list of checkboxes?
  • by smartin (942)
    Probably way more than 10 billion spams sent since the law was enacted.
    One conviction. Good Job!
  • It took three years after the law is signed to get the first conviction. That's pretty sad. The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] notes that, "The law requires the FTC to report back to congress within 24 months of the effectiveness of the act." With billions of spam sent every day and only one conviction three years after the law is signed, I would have to say that the effectiveness is quite low.
    • by BCW2 (168187)
      The Washington spin machine will make a big deal out of this, they finally avoided negative numbers on effectivness. Of course if it wasn't for the wire fraud they would have lost this one too! The people in DC are paid off by the Direct Marketing Association, that's how this useless piece of crap got passed in the first place. Our Congresscritters had to throw them a bone for passing the Do Not Call bill, one of the few bills in the last 40 years that actually helped most people!

      Think about it, how many bi
  • Everyone knows it's next to impossible to lose that service even when intentionally attempted.
  • This is the first conviction under the act, and who did it convict? Someone who was already guilty of a bunch of other more serious crimes, so the CAN-SPAM conviction isn't particularly useful. Now if it ever gets someone who is guilty only of violating CAN-SPAM, then it might be doing something.
  • Eighth Amendment: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

    101 years? Is this a joke? How is this not cruel and unusual? Some might argue it less cruel to shoot him.

    This is disgusting.

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