Computer-using Schadenfreudists rejoice! Today is your day.
Jeremy Jaynes of Raleigh, N.C., one of the Internet's top 10 spammers, according to watchdogs, was convicted in the first felony spam case -- just up the road from Fool HQ in Loudoun County, Va. He and his sister, Jessica DeGroot, were both found guilty by a jury that then recommended a jail term of nine years for Jaynes and a fine of $7,500 for DeGroot.
What's important here is the nature of the convictions: intentional spamming. Jaynes and DeGroot were convicted not for the alleged fraudulent nature of their millions of email solicitations -- Jaynes has amassed a reported fortune of $24 million hawking products like penny-stock pickers -- but for sending unsolicited junk and forging IP addresses to cover their tracks.
A defense attorney called the jail recommendation outrageous, claiming that conventional "robbers and burglars don't get such a tough prison term." Of course, he failed to point out that a gang of street thugs busting through windows to make off with TVs can't cost companies like Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) , and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) millions of dollars per year in lost productivity and spam-reduction costs.
Jaynes is getting no worse than he deserves. If the defense wants an example of a really cruel and unusual sentence, how about tying Jaynes to a tree and letting a few dozen beleaguered Internet users have a little chat with him?
And while the Commonwealth of Virginia is said to be gearing up for more spam prosecutions, U.S. laws won't do much to stop the increasing flow of spam from foreign countries, like Nigeria's most famous export, the 419 scam. So enjoy this one while you can, folks. The fight against this billion-dollar nuisance is far from over.
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Seth Jayson prefers his S.P.A.M. the old-fashioned way: roasted on a stick over a fire and eaten between layers of American cheese. At time of publication, he had no position in companies mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here.