The Department of Internal Affairs has announced that three New Zealanders are being prosecuted for their roles in a global spam operation. That is terrific news, and is exactly one of the reasons why so many of us worked so hard to get an anti-spam law passed in New Zealand. Every party except ACT voted for it.
One of the spammers being prosecuted is the loathsome Shane Atkinson. I filed complaints about him back in 2003. After he was exposed as a spammer and his neighbours told him what they thought of him sending penis enlargements spams to their kids, he publicly recanted and said he had given up spamming.
I always thought he was lying, and over the years received quite a bit of info suggesting he was still in business. The DIA seized computers off him and others last September, and they obviously provided the proof necessary. DIA say:
The Department of Internal Affairs has asked the High Court to impose financial penalties of $200,000 on each of three New Zealanders involved in a major international spamming operation. This is the first court action since the introduction of the anti-spam law, the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act on 5 September 2007 and follows a raid on four Christchurch addresses last December.
The Department, in its Statement of Claim filed in Christchurch, alleges that company directors, Shane Atkinson, of Christchurch, his brother Lance Atkinson of Pelican Waters, Queensland and Roland Smits, courier of Christchurch, were involved in sending over two million emails to New Zealand addresses alone between 5 September and 31 December 2007, earning sales commissions of more than $US2 million from this global operation. The emails marketed Herbal King, Elite Herbal and Express Herbal branded pharmaceutical products, manufactured and shipped by Tulip Lab of India, through a business known as the Genbucks Affiliate Programme. This business was operated by Genbucks Ltd, a company incorporated in the Republic of Mauritius.
This is how spammer operate – through multiple countries. Again one reason it was important to make sure our country could not legally be part of the chain.
I look forward to the trial. Spamming can be very profitable off as low a response rate as 1 in 100,000, so the fines need to be big enough to be a disincentive to just pay the fines and carry on.
So well done to DIA on their first bust.