December 12, 2000 1:45 PM PST

Man pleads guilty in first Net forgery case

In what experts and law enforcement officials are calling the first case of its kind, a California man has pleaded guilty to Internet forgery and could face up to seven years in prison.

Jason Garon, a Mission Viejo, Calif., man, allegedly redirected millions of unsolicited emails, or spam, through the computer system of Irvington, N.Y.-based Market Vision, according to the Westchester County District Attorney's Office.

Garon allegedly sent the messages through the graphics studio company's system to conceal the true origin of the email campaign and to avoid interruption of his service if his victims complained, the district attorney's office said.

Garon, who pleaded guilty last week, could serve up to seven years in state prison. His sentencing is expected in March.

The 46-year-old allegedly targeted millions of America Online subscribers, disguising the anonymous emails about pornography and get-rich-quick schemes as messages sent from IBM's Internet provider, IBM.net. So much traffic was sent through Market Vision that it crashed the company's internal network, causing business downtime.

The Internet forgery conviction is the first of its kind in the United States, Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said in a statement Monday.

The problem of Internet forgery is a growing one, analysts say. A recent survey of 585 U.S. companies by Carnegie Mellon University quantified the loss caused by Internet forgery at $265 million in 1999.

Although Garon has been convicted of his crimes, Richard Dean, a security analyst at IDC, said cybercriminals do not always get caught.

"The problem with this type of crime is that they become more sophisticated as companies develop techniques to combat them," Dean said. "It's a problem that security professionals will always have, playing catch-up to this type of criminal."

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