24-year-old AOL employee - or ex-employee - Jason Smathers of West Virginia violated the trust placed in him when he allegedly sold a list of 92 million e-mail addresses to spammer scum. Smathers, who has pled guilty to the charges facing him, has admitted that he sold the list of email addresses to a man planning to market an offshore gambling website to AOL customers, knowing that the list of screen names might end up in the hands of other spammers.
Smathers was fired, not just for stealing the list, but for using another employee's access code to do so. Allegedly, Smathers sold the list on to 21-year-old Sean Dunaway of Las Vegas, to promote an internet gambling website before being sold on to others.
"The valuable list of AOL subscribers is still believed to be circulating amongst the spammer community - although the ISP is working hard to defend its users from junk email. It is encouraging to see the authorities cracking down on those who abuse the internet and make online life a misery for countless millions of web users." - Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.
Smathers faces between 18-24 months in jail, and fines of between $200,000-$400,000. We think that is getting off lightly.