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Some Good News From Downunder

2009-11-20 10:00:00 GMT, by Vincent Hanna
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Two New Zealanders well known to Spamhaus have been fined for their roles in the biggest pharmaceutical spamming operation in the history of the internet, officials of the nation's Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said on Monday.

They were part of a business based in Christchurch that sent more than two million unsolicited emails promoting Indian-made herbal products to New Zealand addresses over four months in 2007, the DIA reported.

Shane Atkinson was fined $100,000 New Zealand dollars (USD71,600) and Ronald Smits $50,000 in the Christchurch High Court last week, the DIA said in a statement.

The operation paid affiliates around the world to send spam emails marketing Herbal King, Elite Herbal and Express Herbal branded pharmaceutical products, which were manufactured and shipped by Tulip Lab of India. The business was operated by Genbucks Ltd, a company incorporated in Mauritius. Three other New Zealanders, including Atkinson's brother, Lance Atkinson, of Queensland, Australia, have also been fined. Spamhaus had been tracking these companies for about 4-years and Atkinson for even longer as he and his brother had been spamming long before this event.

The DIA's Deputy Secretary Keith Manch said officials worked with overseas agencies, including the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), on the operation, bringing prosecutions under New Zealand's Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act. Deputy Secretary Manch said Lance Atkinson, of Pelican Waters, Queensland, Australia, is also facing court action in the United States brought by the FTC.

"Current estimates suggest that around 120 billion spam messages are sent every day," he said. "These emails clog up the internet, disrupt email delivery, reduce business productivity, raise internet access fees, irritate recipients and erode people's confidence in using email." Manch also referred to the nation's Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act as stopping "New Zealand from becoming a spammer's haven."

Spamhaus congratulates all our friends at the DIA and hopes that this legal effort well send a overall message to those who consider internet abuse and law-breaking a valid profession they will end up in court. Also, we hope a more direct message has been sent to pathological spammers like the Atkinson and Smits and they finally will decide to stop their criminal behavior.


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