An Indiana man has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for helping send millions of illegal spam messages to U.S. and international cellphones and computers.
Thirty-one-year-old Phillip Fleitz of Indianapolis was ordered Monday in Pittsburgh to begin serving the term immediately.
Two other men were placed on probation in the case, and Fleitz's defense attorney contended that prison would be overkill in light of those sentences.
But prosecutors said Fleitz originated the scheme, was already on probation for driving under the influence and has failed drug tests since his arrest.
Authorities contend Fleitz was part of a three-person team who used software to bombard people's cellphones with spam text messages and break into routers in developing nations. Prosecutors say the team made $2,000 to $3,000 weekly for their work.
Fleitz was one of 12 people charged in the United States, and the third to plead guilty, who used Darkcode.com to market their hacking activity.
Darkcode was described by federal prosecutors as an online, invitation-only forum for hackers and cyber-criminals to buy and sell products for infecting electronic devices. Members would invite prospective ones to share their skills with the group, as part of a vetting process for joining, the government said.
Those charged include individuals from Pennsylvania, New York, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Florida, Pakistan, Slovenia, Sweden and Spain.