Red-eye spam scam lands Aussie in jail ... almost

Red-eye spam scam lands Aussie in jail ... almost

A Queensland man has found out the hard way that there are easier ways to earn $7000 than spending 104 days on the Net drumming up a dodgy tech-stock scam.

Wayne John Loughnan considered himself a bit of a cowboy when it came to sending over four million spam e-mails to bulletin boards and e-mail accounts talking up the stock of Rentech - a company that specialises in synthesising petroleum products from natural gas.

The scam was simple. Loughnan, and US cohort Steven Hourmouzis, posted e-mails to Yahoo! and Raging Bull bulletin boards, claiming Rentech stock was set to skyrocket from 33 US cents to over $3 once pending patents were released by the company.

This was of course a fabrication, but since Hourmouzis owned 65,500 shares in Rentech, the pair was set to make a handsome profit if investors bought into the rumour and upped the ante on trading day, which they did. Rentech stocks doubled on Nasdaq after the first day of trading after the transmission of the spam e-mails, and the trading volume was more than 10 times the previous month's average.

Hourmouzis sold out after day one, pocketing $US17,000. Loughnan was paid A$7000 for his part in providing Hourmouzis with over six million e-mail addresses, identifying third-party mail servers and registering the e-mail address

Loughnan was sentenced to two years jail after pleading guilty to three charges brought by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission on the May 22 for his part in the swindle. However, his sentence was wholly suspended on the condition Loughnan enters into a recognizance of A$5000 and placed on a three-year good behaviour bond. (legal mumbo jumbo meaning fined $5000 and told to be a good boy for three years).

But the good times don't end there for Loughnan. He has also had to pay back the A$7000 in profits to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. (Ouch!)It just goes to show that crime doesn't pay . . . if you're a half-wit.

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