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Criminals Fined for International Pharma Spam Operation

Two New Zealand spammers have confessed their roles in a major international spamming operation "Operational Herbal King"; they have been asked to pay required financial penalties, as per the report published by the Earth Times on November 2, 2009.

Both the criminals were ordered to pay the penalty on October 27, 2009 by Justice French in the Christchurch High Court. Shane Atkinson was asked to pay $100,000 while his partner Roland Smits was fined with $50,000 for the crime they have committed. It has been reported that they were a part of Christchurch-based business, which distributed over 2 Million unsolicited e-mails to New Zealand addresses over 4 months in 2007. These e-mails promoted herbal products made in India.

To send these fake e-mails, the well-planned operation paid affiliates all around the world to promote products of the pharmaceutical brands, namely, Herbal King, Elite Herbal and Express Herbal. Through a business called Genbucks Affiliate Programme, Tulip Lab of India produced and shipped these products. Genbucks Ltd, a company incorporated in the Republic of Mauritius, operated this illegal business.

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act was passed in 2007; and within three months, the investigators at the anti-spam Compliance Unit of the Department of Internal Affairs identified and closed the business that operated the New Zealand part of this business. In the history of the Internet, it was ranked as the largest pharmaceutical spanning operation. In addition to this, they are the first one to be punished under the new legislation banning spam.

In the meantime, USA's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided technical information, which helped the Department's investigators to identify the criminals and obtain evidence of the offence they committed. It is noteworthy that Lance Atkinson, Shane's brother and a resident of Pelican Waters, Queensland, paid $100,000 along with $7666 after he confessed his involvement in the scam. In addition, he is also facing court action by the FTC in the US.

Besides this, the Department of Internal Affairs stated that as per the current estimates, around 120 Billion spam e-mails are sent a day. These e-mails block the Internet, disturb e-mail delivery, hamper business productivity, raise the fee to access Internet, irritate users, and erode their confidence to use electronic mails as a source of communication.

Related article: Criminals Hack With More Evil Tactics

» SPAMfighter News - 11-11-2009

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