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Virginia Fraud Laws

Posted by Tamara

In a court case with nationwide implications, a brother and sister were recently found guilty of using spam – unsolicited internet advertisements – to commit fraud under the Virginia fraud laws.

The pair, who illegally sent unsolicited junk e-mail to millions of America Online customers, was convicted under Virginia fraud laws in the nation’s first felony prosecution of distributors of spam.

Jurors who convicted Jeremy D. Jaynes, 30, and Jessica DeGroot, 28, later sentenced Jaynes to a nine-year prison term and fined DeGroot $7,500 for three convictions each of sending e-mails with fraudulent and untraceable routing information.

Prosecutors said that Jaynes and DeGroot, both of Raleigh, North Carolina, are modern-day snake oil salesmen who used the Internet to peddle junk like a fraudulent “FedEx refund processor” that supposedly allowed people to earn $75 an hour while working from home.

In one month alone, Jaynes received 10,000 credit card orders, each for $39.95, for the fake processor. “This was just a case of fraud,” said state prosecutor Samuel E. Fishel IV. “This is a snake-oil salesman in a new format.”

David Oblon, representing Jaynes, argued that it was inappropriate for prosecutors to seek what he called an excessive punishment, given that this is the first prosecution under the Virginia law. He also noted that his client, a North Carolina resident, would have been unaware of the Virginia law.

Virginia prosecuted the case under a law that took effect last year that bars people from sending bulk e-mail that is unsolicited and masks its origin.

AOL, which is a unit of New York-based Time Warner Inc., is based in Dulles, Va. Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore called Virginia’s anti-spam law the toughest in America.

“Spam is a nuisance to millions of Americans, but it is also a major problem for businesses large and small because the thousands of unwanted e-mails create havoc as they attempt to conduct business,” Kilgore said in a statement.

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