An Indiana man who helped send millions of illegal spam messages to US and international cellphones and computers has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison by a federal judge in Pennsylvania. Phillip Fleitz, 31, of Indianapolis, was handcuffed and ordered Monday to immediately begin serving the sentence, the AP reports. Fleitz's two co-defendants previously received probation for their roles, and a defense attorney argued Fleitz should receive a similar sentence. But the judge agreed with US Attorney Jimmy Kitchen, who said: "Fleitz was the architect. It was his idea. He was the first to do it" and enlisted the others. "This was a sophisticated and serious scheme," US District Judge Maurice Cohill Jr. said in imposing the sentence.
From September 2011 to February 2013, Fleitz and two others earned between $2,000 to $3,000 weekly by conspiring to violate a 2003 law designed to protect cellphone and computer users from unwanted marketing and porn emails and text messages. The computer and text-message spam included Internet links. Those who received the text messages were told they had won Best Buy gift cards that could be accessed by clicking the links. In reality, those who responded were routed to pages controlled by marketing companies that harvest email addresses and other information. "I just want to say I'm sorry," Fleitz said, adding that the regulations governing marketing are among the things that "make this country great" and should be followed. "I was stupid for not doing so." (Read more spam stories.)