Jeremy Jaynes, a North Carolina businessman who rose to No. 8 on a list of “spam kingpins,” broke the nation’s toughest spam law by churning out more than 100,000 unsolicited e-mails a month, the Christian Science Monitor reports. He was sentenced last week in Leesburg, Va., to the stiffest penalty ever given to a spammer: Nine years in a state prison. “If there’s ever going to be a deterrent effect, it’s not in the potential for [a long] jail sentence, but the fact that spammers can in fact be found, that they’re no longer ghosts,” says Anne Mitchell of the Institute for Spam and Internet Public Policy in San Jose, Ca. One study estimates that companies lose around $1,934 per year per employee on spam.
A former restaurateur and direct mailer, Jaynes earned $750,000 a month as a spam magnate. His lawyer, David Oblon, insists his services were legitimate and contends that the government broke interstate commerce agreements and trampled on his First Amendment rights to speak freely. “Without warning or a cease and desist letter, the government swept in and wanted to make a statement,” says Oblon. “This prosecution is going to have no effect on email advertising around the world.” Florida has filed a case against a spam house registered with 350 domains and 75 websites hawking cigarettes and pharmaceuticals. Two men were caught by a Microsoft “trap” set up to identify and isolate spam messages.