BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Monday, 30 October, 2000, 15:23 GMT
Shares scam spammer jailed
Raging Bull site
Popular online share dealing sites were also targeted
A court in Australia has jailed a man for "spamming" millions of e-mail users around the world with false financial information.

George Hourmouzis, 24, was sentenced by the court in Melbourne after pleading guilty to two charges of making a false statement on the internet.

The court heard that Hourmouzis had claimed in more than four million unsolicited e-mails that shares in the US company Rentech would soar 900% from around $0.33 to more than $3 after pending patents were released by the company.

Mouse
More than four million e-mails were sent around the world
After the e-emails were sent in May last year Rentech stocks, which are listed on the technology-rich Nasdaq index, more than doubled in price.

According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on 19 May trading in the company's shares rose by more than 1,600%, leading Nasdaq to halt trading of Rentech stock.

Junk mail

The e-mails were sent to users primarily in Australia and North America.

Rentech logo
Trading in Rentech shares was briefly suspended as a result of the spam
Popular share dealing noticeboards such as Yahoo and Raging Bull were also targeted.

Australian officials say the case is one of the first such prosecutions for "spamming" - the practice of sending out vast amounts of junk e-mail which regularly clogs up internet servers around the world.

"This case highlighted the fact that transmission of messages through the internet is not anonymous as many tend to believe," Jaime Orchard, director of enforcement for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission told the Reuters news agency.

'Powerful tool'

Hourmouzis, who is thought to have netted some $8,800 from the scam, was jailed for two years although the judge suspended 21 months leaving him three months to serve.

Sentencing him, Judge Barton Stott described the internet as a "powerful tool with global application" - its misuse, he said, "had the potential to cause immense harm".

He added that Hourmouzis had e-mailed a friend about his activities, saying: "This is illegal, but I like it".

An associate of Hourmouzis, Queensland resident Wayne Loughnan, is expected to face trial on similar charges next month.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

20 Apr 99 | Sci/Tech
Virgin sues spam man
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories