IT security firm Sophos has encouraged authorities to pursue the spamming community following the news that a man has been charged with stealing the membership database held at the American College of Physicians (ACP) in Philadelphia, USA.
William Bailey, Jr, of North Carolina, USA, faces a maximum possible sentence of 55 years in jail and 2,750,000 US dollars in fines if found guilty of illegally accessing the database and downloading contact details of 80,000 members.
46-year-old Bailey runs a website called dr-411.com, which sells professional organisation member databases, including addresses and email addresses for doctors, dentists, lawyers and estate agents. Bailey’s website, which is currently not active, contained adverts for email databases, one of which read: ‘Physician Email Database 20,350 emails for $399’.
It is alleged that Bailey ignored the following warning message on the ACP’s website in order to access the member database:
‘”Member Connection” or any of its data or listings may not be downloaded, republished, resold or duplicated, in whole or in part, for commercial or any other purposes, or for purposes of compiling mailing lists or any other lists of physicians. The use of “Member Connection” to establish independent data files or compendiums of statistical information is prohibited. Should the foregoing terms and conditions be acceptable to you, please indicate your agreement and acceptance by clicking below on the button labeled, “I accept.”‘
United States Attorney General Pat Meehan says that the ACP contacted the computer crime squad at the FBI immediately.
“Criminal spammers are supported by the unethical email list providers who have sprung up like mushrooms around them. Spammers need long lists of qualified email addresses to send their unwanted marketing messages to, and so are always on the lookout for unscrupulous agencies who may assist them,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “Those people who are prepared to work with spammers carry the stench of spam around with them, and if found guilty should be punished appropriately. The public demands firm action from the authorities to investigate cases like this.”