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55 years in clink for stealing email addresses?

I was amused to read that a US man has been charged with stealing the membership database held at the American College of Physicians (ACP) in Philadelphia, USA.

I was also astonished to hear that William Bailey, Jr, of North Carolina, faces a maximum possible sentence of 55 years in jail and $2,750,000 in fines if found guilty of illegally accessing the database and downloading contact details of 80,000 members.

The 46-year-old apparently runs a Web site called (411 is a local directory assistance number in the US), which sells professional organisation member databases, including addresses and email addresses for doctors, dentists, lawyers and estate agents.

This perhaps explains why the law is coming down so heavy on the man.

Commenting on the case, Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with Sophos (fx: doffs cap in the presence of IT security royalty - Ed), said that 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 look-out for unscrupulous agencies who may assist them," he explained.

According to El Cluley, 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," he added...