Virginia Hammers Spammers

12 December 2003

In a groundbreaking move -- the first under a specific anti-spam statute -- the US state of Virginia on Thursday extradited Jeremy Jaynes (29) from his home in neighboring North Carolina, arresting him on charges of sending fraudulent bulk email.

According to Spamhaus, an organization that identifies and tracks hardcore spammers, Jaynes ranks as the globe's eighth-most-prolific spammer. He and his alleged accomplice, Richard Rutowski, yet to be apprehended, were indicted Monday by a Virginian grand jury.

They were charged with sending emails touting low-interest mortgages, penny stocks and internet-browsing software. Their use of fake return addresses and routing information violated Virginia law in that it prevented recipients from contacting them. The pair each face up to twenty years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.

Virginia's draconian anti-spam law prohibits the falsifying of information that would allow bulk emailers to be identified. The fraud becomes a felony if the volume of spam exceeds 10,000 in 24 hours, 100,000 in 30 days or 1 million in a year.

The state is home to many internet service providers, including the world's largest, America Online. Together these operators account for over half the world's web traffic

The Virginia charges are the first under a specific anti-spam statute. Said attorney general Jerry Kilgore at a news conference at AOL headquarters: "This is a huge message that we have a serious law in Virginia, and we will use it to prosecute spammers."

Spamhaus reports that ninety percent of spam received by internet users in North America and Europe emanates from a hard-core group of under 200 spam outfits.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff