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Sophos: Gang sent hundreds of thousands of sexually explicit emails

October 2007 by Sophos

IT security and control firm Sophos has welcomed news that two US men have been sent to jail for more than five years each for their part in an international spam gang which bombarded innocent internet users with sexually explicit images.

A federal judge sentenced Jeffrey A. Kilbride from California to six years in prison and his associate James R. Schaffer from Arizona to five years and three months in jail. The two men were found guilty of charges including violating the CAN-SPAM act, conspiracy, money laundering, fraud and transportation of obscene materials.

"Spamming is a big money earner for cybercriminal gangs that have no qualms about swamping email inboxes with offensive messages or breaking into innocent people’s PCs," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The authorities have sent a strong message to spammers that their activities will not be tolerated. If you send spam then you are running the gauntlet of spending years locked in a prison cell."

Spam sent by Schaffer and Kilbride resulted in America Online receiving more than 600,000 complaints from users between 30 January and 9 June 2004. The spam messages were sent out to promote hardcore pornographic websites.

The two men used a variety of tricks to try and hide their whereabouts from the US authorities. These included logging in remotely to servers based in Amsterdam to try and make their spam messages look like they originated from outside the USA, and using bank accounts in Mauritius and the Isle of Man.

In addition to the jail sentences, each man received a fine of USD 100,000 and was ordered to pay damages to AOL of USD 77,500. The authorities are also seizing over USD 1.13 million in revenues gathered by the criminal gang.

Other members of the gang, including work-at-home "mom" Jennifer Clason (http://www.sophos.com/news/2006/03/clason.html), Andrew Ellifson of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Kirk Rogers of Manhattan Beach (http://www.sophos.com/news/2006/02/kirkspam.html), California, pleaded guilty to charges and turned state’s evidence against Kilbride and Schaffer.

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can control network access and defend against the threats of spam, hackers, spyware and viruses.




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