Kirk Rogers, 42, of Manhattan Beach, Cal., was charged following complaints that hundreds of thousands of spam messages had been sent promoting adult pornographic websites. He pleaded guilty at a federal court in Phoenix, to one count under the CAN-SPAM Act, and agreed to forfeit money obtained in the commission of the crimes. Rogers faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the offense and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 5.
"Firm action is required by the authorities to send a strong message to spammers that their activities are unacceptable," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "The U.S. computer crime forces should be congratulated for catching someone else who was contributing to the menace of spam email."
According to the plea agreement entered at the court, Rogers developed and then managed the computer system used to transmit the spam emails on behalf of Jeffrey A. Kilbride, of Venice, California, and James R. Schaffer, of Paradise Valley, Ariz. According to an earlier indictment, Kilbride and Schaffer conspired to send the spam emails.
America Online is said to have received more than 600,000 complaints between Jan. 30, 2004 and June 9, 2004 from users regarding spam allegedly been sent by the its operation. Kilbride and Schaffer's trial is scheduled to begin on May 2.
Under U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules spammers must include the warning 'SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:' in the subject lines of their pornographic emails or face fines. Spammers who do not clearly label their sexually orientated messages are in violation of federal law.
"The FTC guidelines on marking sexually explicit spam are unpopular amongst the spammers, because it makes it easier to identify unsolicited hardcore messages and prevent them from reaching users. Anything which makes life less profitable for spammers has to be good news for all of us," added Cluley.