Feeds

Notorious Kiwi pill spammers slapped with fine

Herbal King dethroned

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

A gang of notorious spammers from Christchurch, New Zealand have been hit with fines in the first prosecution under the country's anti-spam laws.

Shane Atkinson was fined $71,870 (NZ$100,000) while his partner-in-spam Roland Smits was ordered to hand over $35,915 (NZ$50,000) after the duo were convicted of sending out millions of spam emails selling penis enlargement and weight loss pills under the brand name Herbal King.

Atkinson's brother Lance, who lives in Queensland, Australia, avoided a trip to jail after confessing his involvement in the scam and agreeing to pay $71,870 (NZ$100,000) plus costs. The case over violations of New Zealand's Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act in 2007 was dealt with by the High Court in Christchurch.

The gang hid their tracks by sending the spam from New Zealand, while maintaining knock-off pharmaceutical production and distribution facilities in India and registering their firm in Mauritius. This elaborate camouflage and misdirection approach came unstuck after a Danish anti-spam activist hid code in an order form that tracked the progress of an order across the web, 3 News New Zealand reports.

The Herbal King spammers, who at their peak ran the "largest pharmaceutical spamming operation in the history of the internet", were also the target of a US Federal Trade Commission enforcement action involving the seizure of assets and bank accounts.

It's hard to imagine that the modest fines imposed on the gang in New Zealand are any more than a small fraction of their illicit income.

Nevertheless, a NZ government statement on the case, Internal Affairs Deputy Secretary Keith Manch said enforcement of local anti-spam laws would stop New Zealand becoming a spammer’s haven.

"Operation Herbal King is a major success for the Department and its small Anti-Spam Compliance Unit," Manch said. "Following the passing of the UEM Act, we entered into international agreements to share information about spamming and pursue cross-border complaints."

More details of the Herbal King gang's spamming tactics, which included the use of botnets and so-called bulletproof hosting, can be found in a write-up by anti-spam organisation Spamhaus here. The group (whose activities earned it a place on Spamhaus's ROKSO list of the world's most prolific spammers) also dabbled in luxury goods and porn as well as pharmaceutical spam. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.