Amir Ahmad Shah, 28, of St. Louis, and his brother, Osmaan Ahmad Shah, 25, of Columbia, Mo., were charged in a 51-count sealed indictment by a federal grand jury on April 23. Also indicted in the nationwide spamming case were Liu Guan Ming, a Chinese citizen, Paul Zucker, a 55-year-old from Wayne N.J, and I20 Inc., the company owned by the Shah brothers.
The indictment was unsealed and made public on Wednesday. All are being charged under the , and face charges that include computer hacking and fraud.
The indictments come even as spam for businesses and consumers. A report from security vendor McAfee in March estimated that companies with 1,000 employees or more spent an average of $182,500 per year fighting spam. Storage costs are also rising because of the need for companies to stores unwanted e-mail, McAfee said.
According to the indictment papers, the spam e-mail scheme affected virtually every college and university in the country. It began around 2001 with the Shah brothers allegedly using e-mail extracting programs to harvest e-mail addresses from colleges and universities around the country which they then used to send targeted spam e-mails pitching various products.
They earned money both by sending spam e-mails on behalf of various product vendors and by purchasing products in bulk themselves and selling them directly to the students. In total the brothers are believed to have harvested more than 8 million student e-mail addresses, 37.5 million AOL e-mail IDs, 33.7 million MSN addresses, nearly 11 million Hotmail and $5 million Yahoo e-mail addresses.