[ISN] Seller of AOL Data Is Sentenced

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Aug 18 03:08:35 EDT 2005


August 18, 2005

A 25-year-old former employee of America Online was sentenced to a
year and three months in prison yesterday after admitting that he
became a cyberspace "outlaw" when he sold the screen names and e-mail
addresses of 92 million subscribers to spammers

"I know I've done something very wrong," the soft-spoken and
teary-eyed former employee, Jason Smathers, told Judge Alvin K.  
Hellerstein of Federal District Court in New York as he apologized for
a theft that resulted in spammers sending up to seven billion
unsolicited e-mail messages.

"The public at large has an interest in making sure people respect the
same values that apply in everyday life on the Internet," David
Siegal, an assistant United States attorney, said.

A lawyer for Mr. Smathers, Jeffrey Hoffman, said the theft was a
"dumb, stupid, insane act" that his client regretted. Mr. Smathers
apologized to a half-dozen members of his family who had flown from
California and Indiana to attend the sentencing. Judge Hellerstein
acknowledged the defendant's contrition and efforts to help the

Earlier this year, Mr. Smathers had pleaded guilty to conspiracy
charges in a plea deal that had called for a sentence of at least a
year and a half in prison. The judge imposed the reduced sentence of
one year and three months, saying he recognized Mr. Smathers had
cooperated fully but lacked information to build other criminal cases.

In a letter to the court that was partially read into the record by
Mr. Siegal, Mr. Smathers tried to explain the crimes that AOL has said
cost the company at least $300,000 and possibly millions of dollars.

Mr. Smathers was fired by AOL in June 2004. The authorities said he
used another employee's access code to steal the list of AOL customers
in 2003 from the company headquarters in Dulles, Va.

He reportedly sold the list to Sean Dunaway, of Las Vegas, who used it
to send unwanted gambling advertisements to subscribers of AOL.  
Charges are pending against Mr. Dunaway.

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