January 12, 2006 5:30 PM PST

Spammer faces up to two years in jail

A Detroit-area man is facing at least two years in jail on charges that he sent millions of spam messages over a number of high-profile company networks in violation of the Can-Spam Act.

Daniel Lin, of West Bloomfield, along with three other men from West Bloomfield, was charged in April 2004 with sending spam over compromised computers belonging to the likes of Ford, Unisys and the U.S. Army Information Center. They were the first people to face charges under the U.S. Can-Spam Act.

A report in the Detroit News said the e-mails offered diet aids, herbs and drugs to fight male impotence. U.S. authorities claim the gang made approximately $100,000 for their efforts.

Lin is expected to plead guilty to charges including fraud in connection with electronic mail, as part of a deal with U.S. prosecutors to reduce his sentence. Before the deal, Lin faced a maximum of 10 years in jail for two count of spamming plus 10 years for an unrelated gun charge.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos, commented: "Spammers don't balk at exploiting the computers of innocent people and companies to relay their unwanted spam onto other computer users.

"Weight-loss products are just one of many goods plugged by spammers but many computer users faced by the growing tide of spam will probably like to see spammers go on a diet of bread-and-water."

Dan Ilett of Silicon.com reported from London.
CNET News.com's Alorie Gilbert contributed to this report.

7 comments

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Why??!
This is akin to putting the mail man/woman into
jail. Why not prosecute those that pay them to
deliver the solicitations? I have not heard any
noise about the companies actually profiting from
this. What about the "Vi@gra" and other dubious
businesses actually selling this crap? Are they not
the real culprits? Treat the disease not the
symptoms.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
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Who the bad guys are
Slobs who never clean up their kitchens get cockroaches. It's not the cockroaches' fault. Cockroaches are just nature's response to dirty kitchens.

Spammers are the cockroaches of the Internet. The real bad guys are the Internet service providers who don't have the cajones to enforce their own terms of service.

Pick a few spams and trace the route to the Web sites they're flogging. Probably hosted on Hanaro or Kornet or China Netcom. But the fiber under the ocean belongs to AT&T or Savvis or Sprint or MCI. And all of those companies have peering agreements where they promise to control network abuse and criminal activity by their customers. Savvis and Sprint could pull the plug on Hanaro and Chinamobile for hosting illegal drug sales and software piracy. If they did, Hanaro and Chinamobile would throw those crooks off their networks in about three seconds. They make a lot more money off the legitimate businesses they host, who would move to their more responsible competitors, than off the cockroaches.

Comcast (#1 source of spam world wide, due to all those residential Microsoft spambots) could block outbound port 25 if they wanted. (And SBC, #2 source...) Do you think they don't know how? Do you think it really takes years and years to roll out a simple router configuration change?

Yahoo could throw those Nigerian fraud gangs off their Yahoo Mail service faster than the marks respond. So could MSN/Hotmail. After all, Mail.com does that, and they're in the same business.

But they're not under any pressure to do it. Nobody is telling the public who the bad guys are.
Posted by clsgis (41 comments )
Link Flag
Because of what they did
Actually these guys are going to jail because of their compromising and using other people's machines to send their spam. What I don't understand is how any can trust a thieving spammer enough to actually purchase anything from one.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Only 2 years?
He'd get alot more if I had my way. Xbox "modders" face 17 years in prison (another c/net headline story) and this guy is only looking at 2 years. If my dog bit the postman, she'd be looking at losing her life. only 2 years! Can you believe that?
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
He's a 'businessman'
It's a class thing. Spammers have positioned themselves as entrepreneurs, or at worst "white-collar" criminals. The executive who cheats his stockholders out of half a million dollars does a lot less time than the guy who breaks into a bank and steals fifty thousand, and he does it in a much more comfortable prison. That's if they even prosecute him. (Want to kill someone and get away with it? Poison him in your chemical factory.)

They pulled off that masterpiece of public relations with the help of the Direct Marketing Association. Postal junkmailers are just slavering at the thought of "legitimate" corporate spam. They let the spammers of the last ten years do the dirty work of softening up the public to accept this abuse. They also shot down the only decent spam law that ever made it out of committee in the US Congress, which would have given you the same right of private action that you have against junk faxers.

Not many people remember it, but fax was practically unusable by '92, when the Telecommunications Consumers Protection Act let you collect $500 for an unsolicited fax. People don't sue that often because it's so hard to collect from those deadbeats, but it was enough that it made it safe to turn your fax machine on again. They set it at $500 because that was the small claims limit in many states.
Posted by clsgis (41 comments )
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