Brothers sentenced to probation in spamming case

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After hearing praise and pleas for leniency for two Missouri brother involved in a nationwide spamming scheme, a federal judge sentenced the men to three years of probation and ordered them to forfeit nearly $500,000 in gains from the scheme.

Amir Ahmad Shah, 30, and Osmaan Ahmad Shah, 27, were sentenced Thursday for stealing student email addresses at hundreds of colleges and universities, including the University of Missouri where Osmaan Shah was a student. They then sent spam promoting various products and services to the students.

Their sentences included three months of home detention and three months at a halfway house. The Shahs and their company, i2o, also were ordered to forfeit $439,820 in cash and property, including properties in St. Louis and Columbia, and two luxury cars.

The brothers, both of Ballwin, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy and fraud charges for violating a federal anti-spamming law. At the time, they ran a legitimate online business that sold consumer items such as refurbished iPods, teeth whitening kits and pepper spray to college students, lawyers said.

However, they developed programs that illegally captured more than 8 million student email addresses then used a database to send unsolicited messages selling various products and services, prosecutors said.

The Shahs also admitted their scheme involved using bandwidth provided by the University of Missouri’s computer network, causing damage to the network and its users. The network was damaged by the large amount of network resources and bandwidth used during the transmission of millions of spam emails through its system, The Columbia Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/nPeKkr).

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