850 million-mail spammer gets seven years in jail

28 May 2004

A New York man responsible for sending 850 million junk emails through email accounts he opened using false identities was yesterday sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

Jurors sentenced Howard Carmack to seven years for convictions for forgery, identity theft and falsifying business records. He must serve a minimum of three and a half years.

US internet service provider Earthlink has said it hopes the sentence as well as an earlier US$16.4m civil judgement against Carmack will deter other spammers.

According to Earthlink, Carmack ran 343 illegal email accounts under false names from 2002 until his arrest last May, using them to send unsolicited email ads ranging from get rich quick schemes to sexual enhancement products. It is understood he used those accounts to send out 825 million bulk email messages.

Carmack was convicted of defrauding Earthlink and eight men from New York, Ohio and Washington DC.

Many of Carmack’s alleged activities were illegal under a US national spam law that took effect in January.

Unwanted bulk messages now account for roughly 83pc of email traffic, says filtering software firm Postini.

By John Kennedy