Share scam spammer sent to slammer

Australian gets caught making a fast buck but ends up spending only three months in jail

An Australian who made $17,000 by selling shares in a US company, days after sending four million spam emails tipping the share price to rise 900 percent, was jailed Monday.

Steven George Hourmouzis sent up to four million spam, or unsolicited emails, on 8 and 9 May in 1999 claiming that the share price of Rentech, an American company listed on the Nasdaq index, was about to rise from 33 cents to $3. He also posted messages on Internet bulletin boards having bought 65,500 company shares a few days earlier, which he then sold making a $17,000 profit.

Hourmouzis was sentenced to two years with 21 months suspended. He will serve three months in jail. He pleaded guilty to two charges of making a statement or disseminating information that was false or misleading in relation to securities, and one charge relating to unlawful use of computer systems.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is thought to be pursuing Hourmouzis for $30,000.

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