First spam prosecution for New Zealand

October 15th, 2008 at 12:01 am by David Farrar

The Department of Internal Affairs has announced that three New Zealanders are being prosecuted for their roles in a global operation. That is terrific news, and is exactly one of the reasons why so many of us worked so hard to get an anti- law passed in New Zealand. Every party except ACT voted for it.

One of the spammers being prosecuted is the loathsome .  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 seized computers off him and others last September, and they obviously provided the proof necessary. 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 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.

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22 Responses to “First spam prosecution for New Zealand”

  1. NX (504 comments) says:

    I hope this was a time delayed post because after National’s first clear win in an election debate in over a decade – this is a very dry topic to blog about.

    But on the topic of this thread… my gmail gets hundreds of spam emails a month and all the anti-spam laws being introduced around the world hasn’t seemed to have made a dent.

    I suppose all you can do is carry on & fight the good fight. Spammers are scum.

    [DPF: The announcement from DIA was embargoed until today]

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  2. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Well, too much to hope for, but I DO hope for an acquittal.

    This is just one more very stupid and ill thought out law.

    You rail against the EFA, you rail against the propsed copyright law changes, and yet you support this fundamental attack on free speech and free markets.

    There is no law to stop me phoning you to sell a product.

    There is no law to stop me knocking on your door to sell you a product.

    There is no law to stop me sending you a letter to sell you a product.

    Why should I be prohibited from using the 21C most economical marketing tool?

    [DPF: You can, if you get my permission. But this is about property rights. Spammers trespass on the property of others and have ISPs and recepients pay for their spam]

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  3. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    ACT have the right idea, as does MyNameIsJack. Why should businesses be told not to use their most efficient tools? How many jobs will be lost as a result of this law?

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  4. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    I look forward to their addresses being published and their houses torched.

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  5. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Well, I don’t like being associated with ACT, but I suppose I can grant them being right allthe time, and being correct sometimes.

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  6. redeye (630 comments) says:

    Jack

    There are indeed laws stopping you from phoning. If you don’t want calls in the middle of dinner set your number silent. In Aust. (not sure about here) there are also ‘don’t call’ lists which the respected call centres abide by.

    You can also write ‘No Crap’ or the like on your letter box to prevent brochure posters.

    Perhaps you can come and knock on my door if you like. Please mention you in favour of spamming.

    “Why should I be prohibited from using the 21C most economical marketing tool?”
    Why should you have the right to infringe on my privacy to sell your crappy product?

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  7. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Why should I be prohibited from using the 21C most economical marketing tool?

    [DPF: You can, if you get my permission. But this is about property rights. Spammers trespass on the property of others and have ISPs and recepients pay for their spam]

    I do not have to get your permission to use the other communication means.

    This is NOT about property rights, it is simply a few noisome induhviduals forcing a law change that impinges on the freedoms of others to communicate with them and creating, once again, a law that victimises the many in the pursuit of the few. There are far better ways to attack the mass spammers referred to in the prosecution than to simply pass a law prohibiting all unsolicited email.

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  8. redeye (630 comments) says:

    I forgot to mention.

    You write to me I know who you are and I can ask you to stop

    You visit me and I can tell you to fuck off

    You phone me I have the same redress.

    Spammers are anonymous. They continue to send the junk day after day. Fuck em.

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  9. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    You write to me I know who you are and I can ask you to stop but the law will not enforce your request.

    You visit me and I can tell you to fuck off but the law, with a few exceptions, will not enforce your request.

    You phone me I have the same redress and the law will not enforce your request.

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  10. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Why should you have the right to infringe on my privacy to sell your crappy product?

    If you think an email is an invasion of your privacy, you need to take a good look around.
    \
    There are far more serious invasions of privacy that I see almost every day than the few spams I receive.

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  11. redeye (630 comments) says:

    FEW!!!! Try 30-40 a day. All of them selling crap I don’t want or need. Most of them identical to the 30-40 I received yesterday. Why should I have to spend good money on filters to prevent them from clogging up my inbox?

    Maybe the law won’t prevent you from continuing to write to me, but only an idiot marketer would continue after they have been asked to stop.

    The law would enforce to the marketing to a silent number.

    And if I tell you to fuck off when you visit and you don’t there’s a certain trespass law that could be enforced.

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  12. adc (595 comments) says:

    I don’t think spam will stop until it becomes personally dangerous / painful / fatal for spammers.

    They just make too much money. Fines won’t cut it. They can drag cases through the appeals courts for years and years.

    In the meantime, 60% of your Internet bill goes to pay for the traffic that spammers use. You and I are paying for them.

    They need to be kneecapped as a warning, then if they continue they should be dismembered. Bring back the dark ages.

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  13. aardvark (417 comments) says:

    This prosecution is a joke (thanks to our lame and toothless anti-spam laws). I blogged about this today and after careful analysis, all I can say is that spam may be the best new career path for any Kiwi looking to get rich with only the minimum of overheads (in the form of pesky fines).

    Earn US$2m from spamvertising, pay US$372K in fines, pocket US$=1,628,000 in profit.

    How does this work either as a punishment or a deterrent?

    Spammers will be flocking to NZ after this judgment.

    And let’s not forget — $200K is the *MAXIMUM* fine possible. How often to courts give out *maximum* penalties? So the profit margin may be even higher than I’ve calculated.

    Visit Aardvark, do the math and have your say.

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  14. adc (595 comments) says:

    p.s. I get over 2000 spams a day, about 150 of which get past my spam filter (one of the best on the market) – another thing I have to pay for. It makes it difficult for me to pick out the legit emails. Sometimes I miss things because of the flood of spam swamping them.

    So people arguing about spammers rights to spam people can go to hell for all I care – the sooner the better.

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  15. He-Man (270 comments) says:

    The spammer will get away with it. The court case will amount to nothing.

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  16. GPT1 (2,123 comments) says:

    Stuff fines. Public floggings at the very least. Or if that’s out jail time.

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  17. wreck1080 (3,962 comments) says:

    I suspect mynameisjack either works for a spammer or an antispam software company.

    I receive 50 to 100 daily emails selling me viagra to pain killers to swiss watches.

    Spammers need slamming.

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  18. RRM (10,018 comments) says:

    Hear hear!

    I especially like that you have a tag called “dirty fucking spammers”!

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  19. Jack5 (5,156 comments) says:

    I have a vague recolleciton that Atkinson announced to the Press in Christchurch in 2003 that he was giving up spamming because he had a family, and local computer enthusiasts (presumably young) had threatened to bomb him (explosives, not a cyber attack) or burn down his house.

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  20. chiz (1,164 comments) says:

    I still don’t understand why we need specific laws to fight spam – surely its already covered by other laws?

    If someone sends a spam message to you with a forged address then that, presumably, qualifies it as a forged document. And anyone attempting to solicit business with a forged document is presumably committing fraud, so why not just use existing fraud law? If someone sends out a billion spam messages with a forged address soliciting business then just charge them with a BILLION counts of fraud and let the judge fine them on each individual charge – effectively letting the courts strip-mine their assets.

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  21. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,753 comments) says:

    Every party except ACT voted for it.

    Generally a good sign that the law the government of the day is trying to introducing is a complete load of rubbish. New Zealand would be better off with an ACT government.

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  22. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Yeah, ‘spam for all!’

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