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Three New Zealand Spammers Nabbed

Three New Zealanders have been ordered to pay fines up to 200,000 New Zealand dollars (US$ 124,000) for their alleged involvement in a major international spamming operation that the US and other authorities shut down in the 2nd week of October 2008, officials said on October 15, 2008.

The officials also said that the alleged spammers were involved in a ring that sent billions of e-mails in the past few years, encouraging recipients to visit Websites that promoted prescription drugs, weight-loss pills and 'male enhancement' products through false claims.

Moreover, the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand alleges that Shane Atkinson, the company director, Lance Atkinson, brother of Shane Atkinson, and Roland Smits, an associate, played a role in sending over 2 Million spam mails to various New Zealand addresses during September-December 2007 alone.

Lance Atkinson also faces a Federal Trade Commission charges in the US District Court that listed several American names associated with the ring, said Trevor Henry, the Department Spokesman, as reported by International Herald Tribune on October 15, 2008.

The officials further said that Atkinson allegedly operated a botnet consisting of 35,000 computers that could send 10 Billion spam-mails per day.

Moreover, Internal Affairs alleges that the e-mails advertised pharmaceutical products like Elite Herbal, Express Herbal and Herbal King manufactured by Tulip Lab of India and sold through an entrepreneurial venture named the Genbucks Affiliate Programme.

Furthermore, Shane Atkinson, acted as Genbucks Affiliate Programme's co-manager, and Lance Atkinson was trading under the entity Sancash, hired and paid spammers to promote products such as replica watches and sex toys. To aid in all this, Roland Smits took care of the registration of the domain names needed for sending the Sancash spam mails as well as crafted alternative subject lines to avoid anti-spam interception software of the ISPs.

Meanwhile, the Internal Affairs department declared that the three men have 30 days to register a defense statement, and the judges at the defense hearing would then decide if the $200,000 fine would be imposed on them individually. The case has been termed as a civil case rather than criminal; hence, the trio cannot be jailed.

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