Spammers plead guilty after EarthLink probe

Two plead guilty to offenses under the Can-Spam Act after ISP finds they had sent out thousands of junk messages.

Two spammers could go to jail after an investigation by EarthLink found they were sending thousands of unsolicited messages from PeoplePC accounts.

Jared Cosgrave and Mohammed Haque pleaded guilty last week in a U.S. District Court in Southern Florida to charges of fraud and violation of the Can-Spam Act. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 16, and the two could get up to three years in jail and be given a fine of up to $250,000.

The two were identified in an investigation last year by EarthLink's fraud and abuse team into activity at its PeoplePC subsidiary. The team discovered more than 25,000 junk e-mails had been sent through 10 PeoplePC accounts that originated from Miami. The e-mails contained such subject headers as "I'm finally back home" and "I just got back in town," and contained messages that marketed herbal supplements.

The accounts were subsequently closed, and the FBI called in to investigate.

EarthLink, which acquired PeoplePC four years ago, has been aggressively pursuing spammers. Last year, the Internet service provider filed a lawsuit against a Florida man known as the "timeshare spammer." He was convicted for violating the Can-Spam Act and sending millions of unsolicited mail messages.

EarthLink said it has received more than $200 million in judgments from spam-related cases since 1996.

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