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AOL worker arrested in spam scheme
Jason Smathers is charged with stealing his employer's subscriber list and selling it.
June 23, 2004: 5:37 PM EDT

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 York said.

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 Wednesday.

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 comment.

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 types.

"(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/Money.  Top of page




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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.