[email@example.com] AOL Employee Charged With Stealing AOL Subscriber List And Selling It To Spammers
- Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2004 15:46:21 +0100
AOL employee held over Spam scheme
Thursday, June 24, 2004 Posted: 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -- A software engineer at America Online was
arrested Wednesday and charged with stealing AOL's subscriber list and
selling it to someone sending spam e-mail, federal prosecutors in New
According to the criminal complaint, Jason Smathers of Harpers Ferry,
W. Va., used his inside knowledge of AOL's computer system to steal a
list of 92 million AOL customer account "screen names," and then sold
them to Sean Dunaway, who is not an AOL employee.
Dunaway, of Las Vegas, NV., was accused of using the list to promote
his own Internet gambling business and also sold the list to other
spammers for $52,000, according to David Kelley, the U.S. attorney for
the Southern District of New York.
The complaint further charges that Dunaway later paid Smathers
$100,000 for an updated version of AOL's customer list.
Megan Gaffney, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern
District of New York, confirmed that both men appeared in court
Dunaway, 21, attended federal court in Las Vegas, and Smathers, 24,
made his initial federal court appearance in Virginia.
Smathers will be detained overnight until a detention hearing
tomorrow, Gaffney said. Defense lawyers could not be reached for
The two men each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a
fine of $250,000, according to prosecutors.
An AOL spokesman said Smathers has been fired from the company.
"We deeply regret what has taken place and are thoroughly reviewing
and strengthening our internal procedures as a result of this
investigation and arrest," AOL said in a statement.
According to the complaint, Smathers used another employee's ID in
April and May 2003 to assemble a complete list of AOL's customer
account screen names, zip codes, telephone numbers and credit card
"(But) AOL has uncovered no information indicating that this theft
involved member credit card or password information stored by AOL,"
said the statement from AOL.
AOL, the world's biggest Internet service provider, is owned by Time
Warner Inc., as is CNN.