NY man gets 30 months in prison for spamming AOL

NEW YORK Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:05pm EDT

A technician looks at an array of computers in a file photo. REUTERS/File

A technician looks at an array of computers in a file photo.

Credit: Reuters/File

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Brooklyn man was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Tuesday for sending spam e-mails to more than 1.2 million subscribers of America Online in a scheme that foiled the Internet company's spam-filtering system.

Adam Vitale, 27, was sentenced in federal court in Manhattan after pleading guilty more than a year ago to breaking anti-spam laws. He was also ordered to pay $180,000 to AOL in restitution.

Vitale was caught making a deal with a government informant to send junk e-mails -- known as spam -- that advertised a computer security program in return for 50 percent of the product's profits, prosecutors said.

"Spamming is serious criminal conduct; this is not a teenager engaging in child's play," U.S. District Judge Denny Chin told Vitale as he sentenced him. Vitale earlier apologized and said he had learned a lesson.

Prosecutors said Vitale had 22 prior convictions and had also helped run an online prostitution ring on the Web site www.craigslist.com, but he has not been criminally charged.

In the spam e-mail case, Vitale and another man, Todd Moeller, defeated AOL's filter system by using several different computer servers to relay the e-mails and changed the e-mail header information to ensure the spam e-mails could not be traced back to them.

Moeller, of New Jersey, was sentenced last November to 27 months for his role in the scheme.

Court papers said that in less than a week in August 2005, Vitale and Moeller sent e-mails on behalf of the informant to more than 1,277,000 addresses of subscribers at AOL, the online division of Time Warner Inc.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman)

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