By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer
A man known as "The Timeshare Spammer" said Thursday he will plead
guilty to one count of violating anti-spam laws, marking one of the
first prosecutions using the federal statute.
Peter Moshou, 37, of Auburndale, Fla., could face up to three years in
prison for violating a federal anti-spam law. Prosecutors say Moshou
sent millions of unsolicited commercial e-mails using Atlanta-based
The messages, sent throughout 2004 and 2005, were about brokerage
services for people interested in selling their timeshares.
EarthLink filed a civil lawsuit against Moshou in January after the
company detected a massive influx of spam in its system and later
handed its investigation over to federal prosecutors.
On Thursday, as Moshou awaited a first hearing with U.S. Magistrate
Gerrilyn Brill, he did not seem like a man who could face prison time
and a fine of up to $350,000 for sending the spam e-mails. Wearing a
striped shirt and tennis shoes, Moshou idly chatted with prosecutors
about spam attempts, laughing as one joked about spamming ploys.
But when the court hearing began, no one on either side of the counsel
table was laughing; Magistrate Brill spoke frankly and said 'some of
you think it is a joke, I do not think it is funny at all.'
"Internet spam is more than just an annoyance," said U.S. Attorney
David Nahmias. "It is criminal."
EarthLink says the e-mails falsify "from" addresses, use deceptive
subject lines, fail to identify the sender and fail to provide an
electronic unsubscribe option, among other violations.
Those requirements are part of the Controlling the Assault of
Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003. Spammers who
violate the rules face possible prison time and criminal fines of up
to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for an organization.
Moshou's case is among the first prosecutions using the federal law,
said Larry Slovensky, EarthLink's assistant general counsel.
The first criminal conviction under the federal law was believed to be
in September 2004, when Nicholas Tombros, of Marina del Rey, Calif.,
pleaded guilty of using unprotected wireless networks to send more
than 100 unsolicited adult-themed e-mails from his car.
Moshou's case marks the second high-profile prosecution EarthLink has
helped secure. After the Internet service provider in 2003 won a $16.4
million judgment against Howard Carmack, the so-called Buffalo
Spammer, the company turned its evidence over to New York prosecutors.
In May 2004, Carmack was sentenced to up to seven years in prison for
sending 850 million junk e-mails through accounts he opened with
Moshou was expected to enter his guilty plea at 4 p.m. Thursday before
U.S. District Judge Richard Story.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
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