LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ADAM VITALE pleaded guilty today to charges of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, the
federal anti-spam e-mail law. These charges arise from a scheme
by VITALE and his co-conspirators to send a massive number of
unsolicited commercial e-mails – 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 those e-mails. VITALE
pleaded guilty before United States District Judge DENNY CHIN.
According the Complaint and Indictment filed in Manhattan federal
Between April 2005 and August 2005, VITALE and TODD
MOELLER communicated via online instant messaging with a
confidential informant (“CI”). During these instant messaging
chats, VITALE and MOELLER 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 VITALE
and MOELLER. VITALE and MOELLER 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 VITALE and MOELLER 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 VITALE and MOELLER used two
different techniques to conceal from the recipients the source of
the spam e-mails and allow VITALE and MOELLER to continue their
illegal activity: (1) VITALE and MOELLER used computers connected
to the Internet to relay or re-transmit the spam e-mails to make
it look like the spam came from those computers, and not ones
that could be traced to VITALE and MOELLER; and (2) VITALE and
MOELLER altered the header information in their spam e-mails to 1
make it appear the spam e-mails came from a sender other than
VITALE and MOELLER.
During his guilty plea, VITALE admitted that he worked
to send the most spam e-mails possible and used “whatever means
necessary” to hide the spam e-mails’ true origin, including the
use of computers to relay and retransmit the spam e-mails and
altering the spam e-mails’ header information.
VITALE, 26, resides in Brooklyn. He is scheduled to be
sentenced before the Honorable DENNY CHIN on September 13, 2007
at 4:30 p.m. VITALE 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.
Mr. GARCIA praised the outstanding efforts of the
United States Secret Service in the 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.
The charges contained in the Complaint and Indictment
as to TODD MOELLER are merely accusations and he is presumed
innocent until proven guilty.