US fines NZ spammer US$15.15m

US fines NZ spammer US$15.15m

Summary: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday ordered Australian resident Lance Atkinson to pay over US$15.15 million for his role as the leader of what has been called the largest "spam gang" in the world.

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The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday ordered Australian resident Lance Atkinson to pay over US$15.15 million for his role as the leader of what has been called the largest "spam gang" in the world.

Atkinson, aged 26, is a New Zealand citizen currently living in Queensland, according to the FTC. The commission said that he admitted his involvement in the spam network last December. US-based accomplice, Jody Smith, has also agreed to an order to turn over nearly all of his assets to the commission. He forfeits over $800,000 and will also be facing jail time.

The global spam network, under the alias of "Canadian Healthcare", used a team of globally recruited spammers to send billions of email messages deceptively marketing a male-enhancement pill, prescription drugs and a weight-loss pill. The spammers directed consumers to websites operated by an affiliate program called "Affking", falsely claiming that the medications came from a US-licensed pharmacy that dispensed FDA-approved drugs. In fact, the drugs were shipped from India, and were potentially unsafe. A US district court ordered an asset freeze and halt to his spam network's operation last year.

The spammers collected consumers' credit card information and personal data, using false privacy and security assurances to mislead recipients. To date, three million complaints have been lodged against the spammers and Atkinson's Australian-registered company, Inet Ventures Pty Ltd.

Spamhaus, a not-for-profit anti-spam organisation, has identified Atkinson's operations as the largest "spam gang" in the world.

Topics: Collaboration, Government, Government AU, Security

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6 comments
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  • Jurisdiction.....

    Whilst it's great to get some of these spamming degenerates..... this article does imply that a US court has original jurisdiction over the Australian State of Queensland. I was of the belief that Australia was a sovereign nation. When did this end?
    anonymous
  • Reply to Jurisdiction

    It's pretty obvious that Australia will just follow along with whatever the US wants.

    Australia is willing to participate in an illegal war in Iraq, why be surprised when Australia is willing to stop a real troublemaker in Queensland?

    Australia's military, economy, and political influence is no where near strong enough to stand alone. It would be suicidal not to kiss some ass. What would the benefit be in creating friction with the US Gov?
    anonymous
  • US Laws

    No the US Laws do not have precedence over Australian Laws. It is probably more likely that the US FTC needs to get a ruling in the US before it can pursue an offender through overseas courts. Reply to Jurisdiction take your uninformed views somewhere else
    anonymous
  • The Precedent has already been set.

    I don't recall the name, but an Australian Citizen who had never set foot in the u.s., was successfully charged for hacking u.s. govt sites. To the best of my knowledge there were no "extradition" proceedings, but the u.s. court findings were apparently "enforceable". If the law is to be properly followed then such proceedings should have gone through the UK first because, technically, although autonomous, Australia is still a British Colony.
    anonymous
  • The Precedent has already been set.

    Australia is still a British Colony?

    Is it still 1930 in your neck of the woods ;D
    anonymous
  • Don't Mess with the Yanks

    Seriously, if you want to BREAK the law, anything illegal that may have to do with a US/international connection, i.e. monetary transactions, marketing, telephony and the like - these are going to land you in hot steamy water both here AND there.

    It's pretty much established that career criminals don't say "enough" and will trample over you, me and anyone to make a buck. They stop when they're caught, and good luck if the yanks can swing a rope down this far to get them - especially as the most people affected are in fact in the USA.

    Do you really care that someone intentionally misled millions of people with shonky pills and outright fraud and potentially caused death and bad health and millions of dollars of wasted bandwidth and time is going to get a whole lot less than he deserves?

    All countries have high level agreements in place to deal with high level criminal activity.

    Damn I shoulda kept the spam emails as a trophy - but then, I don't have any kind of system to store the 1000+ spams I get a day.
    anonymous