Kiwi email super-spammer in Australia fined $15.15m by FTC

A New Zealand man living in Queensland and believed to be behind the world’s largest spam operation, has been ordered to pay more than A$16 million (US$15.15m) for running the illegal enterprise.Lance Atkinson, 26, originally from Christchurch, was living in Pelican Waters on the Sunshine Coast when the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had his assets frozen last year. see:16 million reasons to hate spam
A New Zealand man living in Queensland has been ordered to pay more than $16 million for running what is believed to be the world’s largest spam operation. Court Levies $15 Million Fine Against Spammer by John Levine
Earlier this year, the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, the US Federal Trade Commission, and the Australian CMA broke up a large fake drug spam ring known as Herbal Kings, run by New Zealander Lance Atkinson. The NZ government fined him NZ$108,000 (about US$80,000) which, while a substantial fine, seemed pretty small compared to the amount of money he must have made. But today, at the FTC’s request a US judge fined Atkinson US$15.5 million, and got his US accomplice Jody Smith to turn over $800,000, including over $500,000 in an Israeli bank penis pill pushers fined almost $19m
Federal authorities have imposed almost $19m in fines on an enterprise accused of spamming the world with billions of emails advertising male-enhancement pills and other pharmaceuticals.Lance Thomas Atkinson, a New Zealand citizen who resides in Australia, was fined more than $15.15m for his role as the mastermind of the vast spam network, which operated under the affiliate umbrella Affking. Three companies affiliated with his US accomplice, Jody Smith, are liable for $3.77m. Orders Spam Network to Pay $15.2 Million [IDG]
A U.S. district court judge has ordered the largest “spam gang” in the world to pay nearly US$15.2 million for sending unsolicited e-mail messages marketing male-enhancement pills, prescription drugs and weight-loss supplements, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said Monday.$21m fine for Kiwi spam mastermind
A New Zealand man has been ordered to pay US$15.5 million ($21.3 million) for his part in an international spam network said to be one of the largest in internet history.Lance Atkinson, who now lives in Australia, was ordered to pay the amount by a US federal judge after being identified by the US Federal Trade Commission as the ringleader of the spam operation. lands multi-million dollar fine in US for spamming
Lance Atkinson, the New Zealander who was convicted in the Christchurch High Court last year of offences under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 and fined $100,000, is facing far greater financial penalties after being ordered to pay $US15.5 million (NZ$21 million) by US authorities for his part in the spamming network busted by New Zealand and US authorities last year. spammer gets $21m fine [The Dominion Post]
Kiwi spammer Lance Atkinson has been fined US$15.1 million (NZ$21m) by a United States judge for his part in a spamming operation.Atkinson, who now lives in Queensland, had admitted his involvement in a spam operation that sent millions of email messages marketing “male-enhancement” drugs and weight loss pills to computer users around the world. He was fined $100,000 in the High Court at Christchurch last December. spam kingpin fined $21 million
A New Zealander identified as the ring leader of an international spam network has been ordered to pay $US15.15 million by a US federal judge. Orders Australia-based Leader of International Spam Network to Pay $15.15 Million [news release]
U.S. Co-Defendant Forfeits More Than $800,000 and Faces Jail TimeAt the request of the Federal Trade Commission, a federal judge has ordered the mastermind of a vast international spam network to pay $15.15 million in a default judgment for his role in what was identified by the anti-spam organization Spamhaus as the largest “spam gang” in the world. The spam gang deceptively marketed products such as male-enhancement pills, prescription drugs, and weight-loss pills. Ringleader Lance Atkinson, a New Zealand citizen and Australian resident, last December admitted his involvement in the spam network to New Zealand authorities and has already paid more than $80,000 (nearly $108,000 New Zealand dollars). Atkinson’s accomplice, U.S. resident Jody Smith, agreed to an order requiring him to turn over nearly all of his assets to the FTC, to settle FTC charges.Atkinson and Smith recruited spammers from around the world, according to the FTC’s complaint filed last year. The spammers sent billions of e-mail messages directing consumers to Web sites operated by an affiliate program called “Affking,” according to the complaint. By using false header information to hide the origin of the messages, and by failing to provide an opt-out link or list a physical postal address, the defendants are alleged to have violated the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.The FTC charged that, using the “Canadian Healthcare” brand name and other labels, the defendants’ spam messages deceptively marketed a male-enhancement pill, prescription drugs, and a weight-loss pill in violation of federal law. They falsely claimed that the medications came from a U.S.-licensed pharmacy that dispenses FDA-approved generic versions of drugs such as Levitra, Avodart, Cialis, Propecia, Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex, and Zoloft. In fact, the defendants do not operate a U.S.-licensed pharmacy, and the drugs they sold were shipped from India, had not been approved by the FDA, and were potentially unsafe.The FTC also alleged that Atkinson and Smith made false claims about the security of consumers’ credit card information and other personal data consumers provided when they bought goods. In operating the online pharmacy, which was called “Target Pharmacy” and later “Canadian Healthcare,” the defendants’ Web site assured potential consumers that “TARGET PHARMACY treats your personal information (including credit card data) with the highest level of security.” The Web site went on to describe its encryption process, which supposedly involved “Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.” However, there was no indication that consumers’ information was encrypted using SSL technology.A U.S. district court last fall ordered an asset freeze and a halt to the spam gang’s operation, which was responsible for sending potentially billions of illegal spam messages, and has accounted for more than three million complaints.The court has since issued a default judgment against Atkinson, his company, and three companies affiliated with Smith. In addition to the $15.15 million that Atkinson and his company have been ordered to pay, the three companies affiliated with Smith are liable for $3.77 million. All five defendants are prohibited from making unlawful claims about male enhancement products, hoodia products, and any dietary supplement, food, drug, or service purported to provide health-related benefits; from misrepresenting that they can lawfully sell prescription drugs or pharmacy services over the Internet; from misrepresenting the data security measures they provide on their Web sites; and from violating the CAN-SPAM Act.To settle FTC charges that he helped illegally send spam e-mails to millions of consumers as part of a campaign to peddle prescription drugs and supplements that were phony and potentially dangerous, Smith will turn over nearly all his assets. Under the terms of the settlement, Smith will pay approximately $212,000. He also will assign any rights he has to $91,000 frozen in the name of one of his co-defendants, and $547,000 that may be held for his benefit in an Israeli bank.The settlement order also prohibits Smith from violating the CAN-SPAM Act and from making deceptive claims related to either the sale of prescription drugs or pharmacy services over the Internet or the security of Web sites that sell any product or service. Smith is required to substantiate any claims about the benefits or safety of any dietary supplement, food, or health-related service.Smith pled guilty in August 2009 to the criminal charge of conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods, and faces up to five years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in December in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.In a related development, New Zealand authorities announced earlier this month that Atkinson’s brother, Shane Atkinson, and another New Zealander will pay nearly $112,000 ($150,000 New Zealand dollars) collectively for sending spam e-mails as part of the scam.The Commission vote authorizing the filing of a stipulated permanent injunction settling the case against defendant Jody Smith was 4-0. A $15.15 default judgment against Atkinson and his company, Inet Ventures Pty Ltd.; a $3.77 million default judgment against the remaining three corporate defendants, Tango Pay, Click Fusion, and Two Bucks Trading; and the stipulated permanent injunction against Smith were entered by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on November 4, 2009.The FTC would like to thank the following groups for their collaboration in bringing this case: the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs; the Australian Communications and Media Authority; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Generic Drugs and Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis; the Chicago-based National Association of Boards of Pharmacy; and Marshall Software (NZ) Ltd.The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

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