Will other spammers pay attention to it? Don’t count on that.

Jeremy Jaynes was on top of the world. At 28, he owned a million dollar home, an upper-class restaurant, a chain of gyms, and many other toys. However, those were just the spoils of his main line of business, which was scamming innocent people out of their money through email scams. From an unassuming home that serves as his company’s headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, Jaynes sent approximately ten million messages a day launching products that most recipients didn’t want, amassing an estimated $ 24 million fortune in the process. . Using aliases like Jeremy James and Gaven Stubberfield, Jaynes worked his way up to # 8 on the Spamhaus Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO) and raised up to $ 750,000 a month, allowing him to live like royalty.

However, Jaynes came face to face with an information highway blockade when a Virginia judge sentenced him to nine years in prison for his November 2004 conviction on serious charges of using false IP addresses to send out mass advertisements for email (some just call it spam). The conviction was a landmark decision, as Jaynes became the first person in the United States to be convicted of serious spam offenses. Although its operation was based in North Carolina, Jaynes was tested in Virginia because it is home to a large number of routers that control much of North America’s internet traffic (it is also home to AOL and a government building or two).

Should have used privacy software

During the trial, prosecutors targeted three of Jaynes’s most egregious scams: software that promised to protect users’ private information; a service to choose penny stocks to invest; and a work-from-home “FedEx refund processor” opportunity that promised a $ 75-an-hour job but did little more than give shoppers access to a website for delinquent FedEx accounts. Sounds familiar? Anyone with an email address has received countless messages from Jaynes’s operation. (If you’re still waiting for your privacy software to show up, it’s probably safe to stop checking your mailbox.)

Jaynes obtained lists of millions of email addresses through a stolen database of America Online customers. He also illegally obtained email addresses from eBay users. While prosecutors do not yet know how Jaynes got access to the lists, the Associated Press reported that the AOL names matched a list of 92 million addresses that an AOL software engineer has been accused of stealing.

When Jaynes’s operation was raided, investigators found that the house from which he ran his operation was wired with 16 T-1 lines (a large office building can run on a single T-1 line for all its users). The researchers also entered Jaynes’ handwritten to-do test lists. Take a look at Jeremy Jayne’s meticulously detailed playlists at:

* http://www.ciphertrust.com/images/jaynes_notes1.JPG

* http://www.ciphertrust.com/images/jaynes_notes2.JPG

* http://www.ciphertrust.com/images/jaynes_notes3.JPG

Nice job if you can get away with it

The economics of spam makes Jaynes’s decision to build a career understandable, if not noble. Spammers rely on the law of averages, which would seem like an odd strategy considering that the average response rate for a spam message is only one-tenth of one percent. However, once you do the math, even this small response rate can make you very rich very quickly. If a spammer sends a million messages pushing the width of a product with a profit of $ 40, a response rate of 0.1 percent equals 1000 customers, or $ 40,000 per million messages sent. Given that each message costs only fractions of a penny to send, and Jaynes was sending literally billions of messages a year, it’s easy to see how he was making between $ 400,000 and $ 750,000 a month, while spending perhaps $ 50,000 on bandwidth and other general expenses.

The fact that spam can be such a profitable endeavor means that the profession is unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. Spammers are financially motivated to find innovative ways to avoid detection, and they have begun to join forces. While the landmark decision rendered in Jaynes’ trial may deter some would-be spammers, the threat of prosecution is unlikely to prevent future spammers from refining their craft. For now and for the foreseeable future, the answer remains in technology, not law enforcement.

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