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Seller of AOL data is sentenced

A former employee of America Online was sentenced to a year and three months in prison last week after admitting that he became a cyberspace outlaw when he sold the screen names and e-mail addresses of 92 million subscribers to spammers.

Jason Smathers, 25, told Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in New York he was sorry for the theft, which resulted in spammers sending up to seven billion unsolicited e-mail messages, the Associated Press reported.

Earlier this year, Smathers had pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in a plea deal that had called for a sentence of at least a year and a half in prison. The judge imposed the reduced sentence of one year and three months, saying he recognized Smathers had cooperated fully but lacked information to build other criminal cases.

Smathers was fired by AOL in June 2004. The government said he used another employee’s access code to steal the list of AOL customers in 2003 from the company headquarters in Dulles, VA. He reportedly sold the list to another man, who used it to send unwanted gambling advertisements to subscribers of AOL.

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