Work-at-home mother pleads guilty to massive porn spamming

By Gregg Keizer, TechWeb

A work-at-home mother pleaded guilty this week in a US federal court to sending millions of spams hyping Internet porn sites, prosecutors have said.

Jennifer Clason, 33, of Raymond, N.H., was part of a spam gang that sent mass quantities of messages containing pornographic images, said officials from the Department of Justice. She admitted conspiring with two others, Jeffrey Kilbride, 39, of Venice, Calif., and James Schaffer, 39, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., in sending the messages, which advertised various Internet porn sites.

Clason, who pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the federal CAN-SPAM Act and to one count of criminal conspiracy, will forfeit her ill-gotten gains under the agreement she struck with authorities. She also faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Two other members of the gang, Andrew Ellifson, 31, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Kirk Rogers, 43, of Manhattan Beach, Calif., have already pleaded guilty to charges under the CAN-SPAM Act.

Clason now runs a Web site for work-at-home moms, MommyJobs.com, which was not part of the investigation. According to anti-spam advocate Brian McWilliams, MommyJobs.com — which bills itself as "a support site for other work at home mothers and others who wish to quit their jobs to be home" — contains no pitches to join Clason’s affiliate program for porn spammers (PhatBucks.com), nor to visit her porn "thumbnail" site (Galleriesblog.com) or her porn content search site (Contentshopper.com).

While MommyJobs.com lacks direct porn connections, it does advertise get-rich-quick schemes on its forums, including "auto-surf" sites. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shut down a major auto-surf site, and charged its owner with operating a Ponzi scheme to dupe investors. Clason came clean on the MommyJobs.com message forum in a long letter to her site visitors, but claimed she was victimised by a man who convinced her that spamming wasn’t illegal. Recently, she said, she left the spamming business.

"Apparently this guy that I had trusted for five years had lied to me," she wrote. "Not only was his spam operation illegal, but he was also doing other shady stuff that I had no knowledge of like money laundering!!"

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