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First U.S. Felony Spammer Loses Appeal

America's first convicted felony spammer may finally be on his way to prison.

The Virginia Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld the November 2004 conviction of Jeremy Jaynes, who was charged with three counts of using deceptive routing information in sending bulk commercial e-mail.

Although prosecutors sought a 15-year jail term for Jaynes, a Loudon County, Va., jury sentenced him to nine years in prison. Virginia Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne allowed Jaynes to remain free on a $1 million bond until his appeal could be heard.

According to the evidence presented at the trial, Jaynes, 32, grossed more than $24 million in various e-mail scams.

Jaynes also peddled a fraudulent home business idea, which in one month alone brought in 10,000 credit card orders for the $39.95 scheme.

Although a North Carolina resident, Jaynes was tried in Virginia under a law passed in 2003. The tough anti-spam law allows spammers living outside of the state to be charged as long as the unsolicited e-mail is routed through Virginia.

More than half of the world's e-mail flows through Virginia, home of America Online (AOL) and numerous federal agencies.

"[Jaynes] sent thousands of e-mails at random to AOL subscribers whose addresses were among the 107 million stolen AOL e-mail addresses stored on discs in his possession," the appeals court ruling states.

"[Jaynes] did not compile a mailing list by allowing people to register their names, nor did he build this list from previous contacts with people. He obtained a stolen database of AOL e-mail addresses and sent his messages out blindly."

Part of Jaynes' appeal claims Virginia did not have proper jurisdiction to try him since a number of intervening servers that could have blocked his e-mail handled his bulk messages before hitting servers and recipients in Virginia, a notion the appeals court rejected.

The volume of the mailings triggered the criminal provisions of the Virginia law. The Virginia charges cover a 30-day period in the summer of 2003 in which Jaynes and his associates sent more than 10,000 pieces of spam a day and more than 100,000 for the period.

At the time of his arrest, Spamhaus considered Jaynes one of the top 10 spammers in the world.

Spamhaus listed Jaynes as part of a "non-stop group of porn spammers" who use their high-speed T-1 Internet connections for sending "notorious 'horsey porn' spam."