Spamming doesn’t pay — especially if you’re Adam Vitale, 27 from New York, was sentenced after his guilty plea for spamming more than 1.3 million AOL users. His partner in crime, Todd Moeller, assisted him by obfuscating sources of the junk mail, making it nearly untraceable, known as ‘spoofing.’
Just because it’s possible to spam AOL, doesn’t mean one should actually do it. Adam Vitale will be imprisoned for thirty months for his crime and is required to pay AOL $180,000 in restitution. Considering he sent unsolicited e-mail to approximately 15% of AOL’s subscribers (8.7M), he was quite successful.
However, the actions of Vitale, Moeller and others who send unsolicited e-mail, don’t consider the ramifications of their actions. Not only are they risking their own liability, they also damage the reputation of whatever is being advertised, the deliverability of legitimate e-mail service providers, and overall hurt the end-user experience.
Then again, if it wasn’t for people to actually open every their e-mail and purchase Rolex replicas, Viagra and other questionable products and services, spammers wouldn’t be in business. Additionally, any company who wants to get their product “blasted” to millions of recipients is asking for trouble later on when they may get hit with FTC class action lawsuits.
Not all e-mail marketing is bad, and it’s sad to see that it has a bad reputation. Responsible e-mail marketing is key to a positive end-user experience and overall consumer advocacy of all e-mail users. The more it’s abused, the less attention people will offer e-mail. A few companies are out there which help facilitate responsible e-mail marketing. Just to name a few: Infusionsoft, MailChimp and AWeber. Of course, responsible e-mail marketing boils down to how e-mail addresses were obtained and the expectations they had in subscribing.
It’s interesting that AOL’s isn’t relishing the potential positve PR from this incident. If you recall, in 2005, AOL held a dicey contest after they won litigation against Brad Bournival; which included giving away $20,000 in gold bars, 2003 Hummer H2 and $25,000 in cash. In hindsight, this was just another great PR stunt which didn’t render enough return for the company.
[Image Credit: Wikipedia]