World

First conviction in U.S. for e-mail spammers

A brother and sister from North Carolina have become the first people in the U.S. to be convicted of fraudulently sending spam e-mails.

A brother and sister from North Carolina have become the first people in the U.S. to be convicted of fraudulently sending spam e-mails.

Jurors recommended a sentence of nine years in prison for Jeremy Jaynes, 30, and a $7,500 fine for his sister Jessica DeGroot, 28. Sentencing has been set for February.

The pair were convicted on three felony charges of using phoney internet addresses to send more than 10,000 unsolicited e-mail to tens of thousands of subscribers to America Online.

''This was just a case of fraud,'' said prosecutor Samuel Fishel IV. "This is a snake-oil salesman in a new format.''

The two were prosecuted under a law created last year that makes it illegal for people to send bulk e-mail that is unsolicited and masks its origin.

Jaynes's lawyer David Oblon said he was shocked at the recommended sentence.

"Nine years is absolutely outrageous when you look at what we do to people convicted of crimes like robbery and rape," he said.

The court heard that Jaynes and DeGroot used the internet to sell things like a ''FedEx refund processor," claiming it would allow people to earn $75 an hour working from home.

Jaynes received 10,000 credit card orders in one month, at a cost of $39.95 for each processor, the court heard.

"Spam is a nuisance to millions of Americans, but it is also a major problem for businesses large and small because the thousands of unwanted e-mails create havoc as they attempt to conduct business,'' said Virginia's Attorney General Jerry Kilgore in a statement.