Putting Spammers in the Pokey

By John Quain  |  Posted 2004-06-03 Print this article Print

The government wants you to know that violating its CAN-SPAM law can send you up the river.

The government wants you to know that violating its CAN-SPAM law can send you up the river. In April, the Department of Justice busted its first accused spammers.

Four defendants from the Detroit area—Christopher Chung, Daniel J. Lin, James J. Lin, and Mark M. Sadek—are accused of disguising their identities and hawking a fraudulent $59.95 herbal weight-loss patch by sending hundreds of thousands of spam messages.

According to the FTC, more than 10,000 complaints were lodged against the accused, who allegedly operated companies under various names, including AIT Herbal and Avatar Nutrition, and used a common technique to hide their identities: bouncing e-mails through unprotected relay computers on the Net. The Department of Justice found the four not by tracking IP addresses but by following a paper trail through the postal service. At press time, two of the accused had appeared in U.S. District Court, but the Lins had not been located, underscoring how easily spammers can hide.

"The problem is that the forensics to prove it actually was that person who sent that e-mail can cross geographical and political boundaries," says Paul Wood, chief analyst at MessageLabs.

According to MessageLabs, CAN-SPAM caused a dip in junk mail volume, but April saw the volume of spam worldwide reach 67 percent of all messages—a record. Wood says the law should make it more expensive for spammers to operate, but adds that in the U.S. the problem appears to be growing steadily.

John Quain John Quain is the Wireless Center Editor and wireless columnist for Ziff Davis Media. He is also the on-air Computer Consultant for CBS News, appearing regularly on the network's overnight newscast Up to the Minute for over 7 years. In addition, Quain does occasional reports for CBS News The Early Show and has been reporting on technology and related business and entertainment news for over 20 years. Quain has appeared regularly on ABC News, CNN, CNNfn, MSNBC, and CNBC.

In addition to his online and on-air work, Quain currently contributes articles about computers, the Internet, consumer electronics, and technology to PC Magazine, Popular Science, Esquire, and The New York Times. Other publications Quain contributes to include Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Men's Journal, Tech Edge, and Good Housekeeping.

Past positions Quain has held include working as a Contributing Editor at Fast Company magazine for 4 years and at PC Magazine for 9 years. He also wrote a technology column for Brill's Content magazine, was the gadgets columnist at My Generation magazine, was the daily Internet columnist for Time Warner's Pathfinder, and was the computer columnist at The Globe and Mail newspaper.


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