As one of the world’s most prolific spammers, Jeremy Jaynes pumped out at least 10 million e-mails a day with the help of 16 high-speed lines, the kind of Internet capacity a 1,000-employee company would need.
Jaynes’ business was remarkably lucrative; prosecutors say he grossed up to $750,000 per month. If you have an e-mail account, chances are Jaynes tried to get your attention, pitching software, pornography and work-at-home schemes.
The eight-day trial that ended in his conviction this month shed light on the operations of a 30-year-old former purveyor of physical junk mail who worked with minimal assistance out of a nondescript house in Raleigh, North Carolina.
A state jury in Leesburg has recommended a nine-year prison term in the nation’s first felony trial of spam purveyors. Sentencing is set for February.
During the trial, prosecutors focused on three products that Jaynes hawked: software that promises to clean computers of private information; a service for choosing penny stocks to invest in; and a “FedEx refund processor” that promised $75-an-hour work but did little more than give buyers access to a Web site of delinquent FedEx accounts.
Jaynes, going by Gaven Stubberfield and other aliases, had established a niche as a pornography purveyor, said Assistant Attorney General Russell McGuire, who prosecuted the case. But Jaynes was constantly tweaking and rotating products.
Relatively few people actually responded to Jaynes’ pitches. In a typical month, prosecutors said during the trial, Jaynes might receive 10,000 to 17,000 credit card orders, thus making money on perhaps only one of every 30,000 e-mails he sent out.
But he earned $40 a pop, and the undertaking was so vast that Jaynes could still pull in $400,000 to $750,000 a month, while spending perhaps $50,000 on bandwidth and other overhead, McGuire said.
“When you’re marketing to the world, there are enough idiots out there” who will be suckered in, McGuire said in an interview.
Prosecutors believe Jaynes had a net worth of up to $24 million, and they described one of his homes as a mansion, though the e-mail came from a house described as average.