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World?s largest spammer nabbed


No more unwanted spam from this group

A global spam group that U.S. federal authorities say is responsible for billions of spam messages has had its operations shut down by a U.S. District Court, pending trial. HerbalKing, the Website that sends out those wonderful spam messages promoting male enhancement drugs, no-prescription drugs that legally require prescriptions and diet pills, was ordered to halt operations by the Court. 

Acting on a tip from the Federal Trade Commission the U.S. District Court issued an injunction against HerbalKing, Lance Atkinson of Australia and Jody Smith of Texas, and the four companies they control: Tango Pay, Click Fusion, Inet Ventures and TwoBucks Trading.

The FTC complained that Atkinson hired spammers from around the world and gave them the text and hyperlinks to use for Websites owned by Atkinson. The spam mail promoting the Websites was controlled by thousands of botnets, or compromised PCs. 

Some anti-spam organizations, such as The Spamhaus Project, have estimated that up to 1/3 of the world’s spam E-mail came from this spam group. The spam network had members from Australia, New Zealand, China, the U.S., India, Russia and Canada, according to the FTC.

The FTC acted after it said it had received more than 3 million consumer complaints about the group's spamming activity and messages over the past several months. The FTC has already won a $2.2 million judgment against Atkinson and another business partner in June 2005 for running a similar program that marketed herbal products.

While this may lessen the number of spam messages for a short time, computer security experts say that the market is just too lucrative and that someone else will come along to fill the void quickly. According to Paul Ferguson, an advanced threat researcher from Trend Micro, "Someone else will fill the void. While it's great they caught these guys, the last time a major spam king was busted, the spam increased."

Last modified on 16 October 2008
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