June 24, 2009
7th Circuit Upholds Mass Market Sentencing Enhancement for Internet Auction Fraud
The Seventh Circuit on Monday affirmed the enhanced sentencing of Jeffrey Heckel for mail fraud by using the Internet to conduct mass marketing. Heckel conducted Internet auctions for items, cashed checks by winning bidders, and sent inferior items from those advertised. Heckel claimed that only five people were defrauded, and that only one person, the winner, can be defrauded in an auction. The Court analyzed the sentencing guidelines (§ 2B1.1(b)(2)(A)(ii)) and concluded that they support the enhancement because of the number of people the scheme could reach irrespective of the number that were victimized. Recognizing that Internet auctions can attract a potentially large number of competitive bids which drive up the price of an item was enough to justify the enhancement. The opinion is U.S. v. Jeffrey Heckel, (No. 07 CR 41, June 22, 2009). The oral arguments are also available as an mp3 file here.
June 06, 2009
Ninth Circuit Reinstates Antitrust Suit Against Verisign
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that Verisgn can be sued for antitrust violations regarding the way it sets prices for domain names, among other potentially illegal conduct. The complaint was dismissed at the District Court level, but reversed last Friday. The opinion is here, and the story in the San Francisco Chronicle is here.
Wiretap Suits Against AT&T Dismissed
The wiretapping suits against AT&T and other telecoms, pending in San Francisco, have been dismissed. The suits alleged constitutional violations for letting the United States have access to the various networks without a court order. Judge Vaughn Walker dismissed the suits noting the companies were protected under the FISA amendments signed into law in July of 2008. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who provided legal assistance to plaintiffs, said it would appeal. Their statement is here, and includes links to Judge Walker's order. More details in Channel Web.