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Prolific penis-pill pusher gets slap on the wrist

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A New Zealand man said to be at the helm of one of the world's most prolific spam enterprises has agreed to pay fines totalling $92,715 (about US $63,400) after admitting his role in an operation that spewed billions of junk messages in recent years.

Lance Atkinson, 26, paid the paltry amount "because of his co-operation and candour with authorities at an early stage" according to The Sydney Morning Herald. He could have been forced to pay double that amount.

New Zealand's Internal Affairs' Anti-Spam Compliance Unit found Atkinson was responsible for sending more than 2 million junk messages to New Zealand-based computers during a four-month period of 2007. The spam hawked penis enlargement pills that carried brand names including Herbal King, Elite Herbal, and Express Herbal.

Atkinson still faces charges filed by the US Federal Trade Commission, which in October obtained a court order shutting down some half-dozen companies operated by Atkinson and a colleague Jody Smith of Texas.

Atkinson and another business partner were fined $2.2m in 2005 under a separate anti-spam action filed by the FTC. According to Spamhaus, Atkinson's enterprise was one of the world's biggest spamming operations. ®

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