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Spam leader fined $15m by US courts

The US Federal Trade Commission has ordered Lance Atkinson to pay the fine for his role as head of a vast spam network
Written by Colin Ho, Contributor on

The US Federal Trade Commission on Monday ordered Australian resident Lance Atkinson to pay over $15.15m 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, Australia, according to the FTC. The commission said 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 (£480,000) and will also be facing jail time.

The global spam network, under the alias '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 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 Atkinson's spam network's operation last year.

For more on this story, see US fines NZ spammer US$15.15m on ZDNet Australia.

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