Pair Nabbed In AOL Spam Scheme

Arrested in theft of firm's 30 million subscriber list

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Pair Nabbed In AOL Spam Scheme

JUNE 23--An AOL software engineer was arrested today for stealing the company's entire subscriber list--totaling 92 million screen names--and selling it to a 21-year-old Las Vegas spammer. According to the below federal criminal complaint, Jason Smathers, 24, last year illegally accessed the highly confidential AOL list by using another employee's identification codes. Smathers, who worked in AOL's Dulles, Virginia office, then allegedly sold the list to Sean Dunaway, who used the AOL database to promote his own online gambling business and who also sold the list for $52,000 to fellow spammers, one of whom used the names "for purposes of marketing herbal penile enlargement pills," according to the complaint. AOL's subscriber base is about 30 million individual customers, who account for 92 million different screen names. Prosecutors also contend that Smathers subsequently sold Dunaway an updated AOL customer list--this one with approximately 18 million names--for $100,000. Both men have been charged with conspiracy, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. The Secret Service probe was aided by a spammer who purchased the two lists from Dunaway and is now seeking "leniency concerning his/her participation" in the AOL conspiracy, notes the complaint. (13 pages)

Comments (1)

Is AOL the company that gives away those CD shaped drink coasters?