Other charges included federal obscenity, money laundering, conspiracy and violation of 2257 record keeping law.
Marking the third major arrest this year by the Department of Justice using the Can-Spam Act, today’s nine count indictment charges all three defendants with two counts of fraud and related activity in connection with unsolicited email and one count of criminal conspiracy.
America Online claims to have received more than 600,000 complaints between Jan. 30, 2004, and June 9, 2004, from its users regarding spam emails that had allegedly been sent by the defendants, and Spamhaus considers the defendants’ spamming operation to be one of the 200 largest in the world.
Defendants named the spam roundup include Jennifer R. Clason, 32, formerly of Tempe, Ariz; Jeffrey A. Kilbride, 39, of Venice, Calif.; and James R. Schaffer, 39, of Paradise Valley, Ariz.
If convicted, Kilbride and Schaffer each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on the money laundering charge and five years in prison on the obscenity charges. All three defendants also face a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each of the spamming and criminal conspiracy charges.
The spam emails were sent without any trace of how to respond to the sender, one of the principal violations of Can-Spam, which requires that all emails contain contact information on the sender and an opt-out feature.
Justice said that the defendants accomplished this by sending the emails from Internet Protocol addresses registered in the Netherlands and domain names registered in Mauritius, falsifying the “From:” line in the emails, installing the computers sending the emails and related equipment in the Netherlands, and then remotely controlling these computers from the United States.
Schaffer, who ran several adult websites including Boobs.com, Cumshots.com and Facesat.com, was charged with violating 2257 record keeping law and for failing to maintain proper records pertaining to the location of the custodian of records and identification and age verification of talent appearing in sexually explicit images on the sites.
For violating 2257, Schaffer also faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison, Justice said, and the forfeiture of proceeds allegedly obtained during the commission of these offenses.
Additional indictment charges against Kilbride and Schaffer are for two counts of interstate transportation of obscene material using an interactive computer service, two counts of interstate transportation of obscene material for the purpose of sale or distribution and one count of money laundering through overseas bank accounts in Mauritius and the Isle of Man.
The fourth defendant, Andrew Ellifson, 31, of Scottsdale, Ariz., pleaded guilty to involvement with the other defendants. Ellifson assisted in the operation of the computer network used to transmit the spam. Ellifson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each of the spamming and criminal conspiracy offenses.
“Americans are fed up with the tens of millions of unsolicited, sexually explicit emails received every day,” Acting Assistant Attorney General John C. Richter of Justice's Criminal Division said. “Today’s announcement should send the message loud and clear that the Department is committed to using the Can-Spam Act and the federal laws to stop those who invade the homes of American families with unwanted, obscene spam.”