- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003

Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore announced yesterday the nation’s first felony indictment under an antispam law after police arrested a suspected spammer on charges of sending out millions of fraudulent e-mail messages from his home in North Carolina.

Police near Raleigh, N.C., yesterday morning arrested Jeremy Jaynes, 29, charging him with four felony counts of sending fraudulent, unsolicited bulk e-mail under Virginia’s new antispam law. A second man, Richard Rutowsky, also was indicted on four counts in connection with spamming activities and is expected to turn himself into police.

Both men, who officials said worked as a team, were indicted in Loudoun County on Monday. If convicted, they could be sentenced to between one and five years in jail and fined as much as $2,500 for each count.

Officials said Mr. Jaynes and Mr. Rutowsky are among the worst spammers in the world. Mr. Jaynes, who uses the alias “Gaven Stubberfield” has been listed as the eighth-worst spammer in the world by the Registry of Known Spam Operations, a database hosted by the Spamhaus Project, a British organization that tracks suspected spammers.

“Certainly, this serves as a demonstration that when law enforcement takes action, there are things they can do,” said Ray Everett-Church, chief privacy officer for EPrivacy Group and general counsel for the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail. “But there are nine other people on that top ten list, and it remains to be seen if the attorneys general will devote the time and resources to going after them.”

Unsolicited commercial e-mail, or spam, makes up more than half of all e-mail sent worldwide, and some analysts estimated it costs businesses more than $10 billion in lost productivity and services.

Under Virginia’s antispam law, which went into effect July 1, officials can pursue felony charges against anyone who sends fraudulent bulk e-mail through servers located in Virginia, even if the e-mail originates from out of state. Officials say Mr. Jaynes and Mr. Rutowsky sent mass amounts of e-mail to subscribers of AOL Inc.’s America Online service. AOL headquarters are in Sterling, Va., where officials announced the indictments yesterday.

Russell E. McGuire, a prosecutor in Virginia’s Attorney General’s Office, said they learned of Mr. Jaynes’ and Mr. Rutowksy’s spamming activities after AOL users reported thousands of complaints. He said the two men committed felonies when they sent at least 10,000 messages in a 24-hour period on July 16, 19 and 26, and sent more than 100,000 messages from July 11 to Aug. 11.

Mr. McGuire also said the two men tried to hide the source of their spam by falisfying return addresses, subject lines and routing information, which is considered a misdemeanor.

Officials said Mr. Jaynes and Mr. Rutowksy sent spam featuring advertisements for fraudulent stock schemes, mortgage loans and a software program called an “Internet eraser” that deletes the record of activity from a person’s Web browser. Mr. McGuire said he did not think the two men sent pornographic spam, but a note on the Spamhaus Web site refers to Mr. Jaynes and Mr. Rutowsky as being part of a “a nonstop group of porn spammers” with “multiple machines pumping scam and porn spam around the clock.” Spamhaus also says the group is notorious for sending spam featuring bestiality.

Officials said spamming was lucrative for both men, who are thought not to have any other jobs. Both live in large houses in the Raleigh suburbs.

“This was very profitable for these two individuals,” Mr. Kilgore said. “They lived a very good life.”

Monday’s indictments are the first major actions against a suspected spammer since May, when officials in New York arrested Howard Carmack, also known as the “Buffalo Spammer,” on charges of sending more than 825 million fraudulent messages in March 2002. He is expected to stand trial in January, facing four felony counts and one misdemeanor under New York’s identity-theft statute.

Antispam advocates praised the Virginia indictments, but said they were unlikely to make a dent in the amount of e-mail consumers get in their in-boxes.

Virginia officials said it was difficult to find Mr. Jaynes and Mr. Rutowksy because of the steps they took to hide the origin of their mail. Spam analysts have said more than two-thirds of spam is deceptive in some way, and as much as a third use “open proxies,” or vulnerabilities in computers to rout spam through hijacked systems. Many spammers have been known to rout their e-mail overseas, but officials said it was not clear whether Mr. Jaynes or Mr. Rutowsky did so.

The indictments came on the same day that members of Congress wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans and members of British Parliament urging international cooperation in dealing with the spam problem.

Congress last week passed antispam legislation, which bans the most deceptive forms of unsolicited commercial e-mail. President Bush is expected next week to sign the bill, which would pre-empt most state antispam laws but not Virginia’s.

Antispam advocates said the indictments should be used as an example of why state antispam laws should remain intact.

“This does indicate that state laws have been a great experiment,” Mr. Everett-Church said.

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