LAWFUEL – Legal Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TODD MOELLER
pleaded guilty late yesterday to charges of violating the CANSPAM
Act, the federal anti-spam e-mail law. The charges arise
from a scheme by MOELLER and his co-conspirators — including
ADAM VITALE, who pleaded guilty to the same charges on June 11,
2007 — to send a massive number of unsolicited commercial emails
(also known as “spam” or “junk” e-mails) over the Internet
to the e-mail addresses of approximately 1.2 million subscribers
of America Online, Inc. (“AOL”), and to hide the true origin of
According the Complaint and Indictment filed in
Manhattan federal court:
Between April and August 2005, MOELLER and VITALE
communicated via online instant messaging with a confidential
informant (“CI”). During these instant messaging chats, MOELLER
and VITALE boasted of their ability to send large numbers of spam
e-mails in a manner that would make it nearly impossible for the
recipients to trace the spam e-mails to MOELLER and VITALE.
MOELLER and VITALE also claimed that they had the ability to
defeat special software that AOL uses to filter spam e-mail from
legitimate e-mail traffic over its networks.
The CI offered MOELLER and VITALE the opportunity to
send spam e-mails that advertised a product the CI purportedly
wanted to sell. MOELLER and VITALE agreed to do so in return for
a 50% cut of the profits, and between August 17, 2005 and August
23, 2005, transmitted spam e-mails to the e-mail addresses of
approximately 1.2 million AOL subscribers.
Forensic examination of the spam e-mails indicated that MOELLER and VITALE used two different techniques to conceal the source of the spam e-mails from recipients, and to allow MOELLER and VITALE to continue
their illegal activity: (1) MOELLER and VITALE used computers
connected to the Internet to relay or re-transmit the spam emails
to make it look like the spam came from those computers,
and not ones that could be traced to MOELLER and VITALE; and (2)
MOELLER and VITALE altered the header information in their spam
e-mails to make it appear the spam e-mails came from a sender
other than MOELLER and VITALE.
At his guilty plea before US Magistrate Judge Douglas F Eaton, MOELLER admitted that he conspired with VITALE to send spam e-mails to AOL subscribers using techniques to hide the spam emails’
true origin, including the use of computers to relay and
retransmit the spam e-mails and altering the spam e-mails’ header
information. MOELLER admitted he knew what he was doing was
MOELLER, 28, resides in Toms River, New Jersey. He is
scheduled to be sentenced before JUDGE DENNY CHIN on September
20, 2007 at 4:30 p.m., and faces a maximum sentence of 11 years
in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or gross
loss from the offense. VITALE, who pleaded guilty to the same
charges, faces the same maximum sentence and fine. VITALE is
scheduled to be sentenced before JUDGE CHIN on September 13,
Mr. GARCIA praised the outstanding efforts of the
United States Secret Service, and thanked AOL for its assistance
and cooperation in this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the Computer
Hacking/Intellectual Property (“CHIPs”) group of the Office’s
Major Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney THOMAS G. A.
BROWN is in charge of the prosecution.
At his guilty plea before United States Magistrate
Judge DOUGLAS F. EATON, MOELLER admitted that he conspired with
VITALE to send spam e-mails to AOL subscribers, and sent spam e