Spammer slammed

February 14th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Auckland-based marketeer Image Marketing Group has been fined a record $120,000 after it admitted sending spam emails and text messages in 2009 and 2010.

The Department of Internal Affairs, which took action against the two-person company after receiving 500 complaints, said the fine approved by the High Court in Auckland was the largest imposed under the Unsolicited Electronic Communications Act, which came into force in 2007.

IMG sent more than 500,000 emails and 45,000 texts in 2009, admitting some were spam. They invited people to buy its database products and mobile phone antennas.

Justice Mary Peters said IMG sent more spam emails in 2010, but the volumes were not known.

Internal Affairs dropped its action against IMG’s sole director, Brendan Battles, as part of the court-approved negotiated settlement.

Battles is a recidivist spammer. Great to see such a large fine. Hopefully he now desist.

Tags: ,

Miccio abuses Council privileges

September 1st, 2013 at 2:05 pm by David Farrar

The Nelson Mail reports:

Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio has been found in breach of election rules and received a ticking off from the electoral officer.

A complaint was made by Gaire Thompson about how Mr Miccio obtained email addresses and why campaign material headed Miccio4mayor was sent with its mailing address as 110 Trafalgar St which is the city council’s Civic House.

The use of the Council address as his campaign address is not that serious, but is very stupid. What was he thinking.

But the more serious issue is this:

Mr Thompson said he had never opted to receive the email sent to him by the mayor’s campaign team.

However, he had given his email address at the consultation meeting held last week at the council chambers on the council’s proposed sale of Wakatu Square land for the development of a building for a new Farmers store.

He gave it so the council could send updates on the consultation.

Mr Thompson attended as he owns the Trafalgar St property of the existing Farmers store.

His wife and several others who attended the consultation also received the Miccio4mayor email, he said. …

Council staff had collected the email addresses at the Uniquely Nelson event at the council chamber in case of any follow up, said Mr Miccio.

“That week we were doing a newsletter on the Farmers proposal, I thought because of the number of questions it would be useful to get the information to those people.”

He said he was given the list and sent the newsletter to those people.

“Would I do the same thing again? I probably would,” he said.

“I don’t see it as being a major issue.

This is outrageous.  If he was a commercial operation, he would be in breach of the spam act. As it stands I believe Miccio and the Council are in breach of the Privacy Act as they are using private information not for the purpose it was given.

What is disturbing is the Mayor says he would do it again.

It is totally inappropriate for e-mail addresses given to the Council for a Council purpose, be given to the Mayor for him to use for his private campaign. That is appalling. It is using ratepayer resources to advantage the incumbent.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

Tags: , ,

Faxes now covered by anti-spam law

October 28th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

DIA announced last week:

From tomorrow (20 October) unsolicited commercial faxes will count as spam.

The schedule of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 has been amended to remove ‘facsimiles’ from the list of exempt electronic messages. This means that an individual or company may no longer send a commercial fax, with a New Zealand link, to a recipient that has not consented to receiving the message.

Internal Affairs, which regulates the Act, has received many inquiries from people receiving unsolicited commercial faxes, since the Act came into force in 2007, but could take no action because faxes were excluded.

I had a hand in the formulation of the anti-spam law. The reason faxes were not included at the time was because the cost of sending them was deemed significant enough to mean that no regulation was needed.

It costs an advertiser actual money to direct mail you, to letterbox drop you or (in the past) to phone/fax you.  The cost of the marketing provided an incentive to only send marketing messages if they made enough money to cover the cost. Hence why you only get 20 or so items of junk mail a week, instead of 2,000.

E-mail though had different economic properties. It cost basically nothing to send, and the recipient effectively pays for it (in time and money). Hence why pretty much every country in the OECD has anti-spam laws. It’s a version of theft.

With more and more telecommunications being done over the Internet, I think it is the right call to include faxes. With VOIP and the like the marginal cost of fax spam is so low that there is little economic deterrent.

Tags: , ,

More spam from Labour

July 19th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A reader writes from Dunedin about how he received an unsolicited e-mail from Labour’s Dunedin North candidate, David Clark. He asked Labour how he got to be on their mailing list and their response was:

The list I have has come to me from a wide variety of sources from people who have agreed to further contact. I’m afraid only you can answer that question.

The reader responds to Mr Clark:

I just can’t imagine where I would have – if I were intentionally signing up to a newsletter (which I’m particularly unlikely to do, and even more so for a Labour candidate) I would have used my “proper” email address. Your assistance to try and figure this out would be greatly appreciated.

Now, you announced your candidacy just under a year ago. Obviously if you’re following the anti-spam legislation (which I understand you’re arguably exempt from as this isn’t strictly for commercial gain, but surely you’d stick to anyway under the premise of not wanting to be a spammer) then I would have had to specifically opt in for this mailing list sometime since then.

We can discount November and December last year as I was out of the country for this time, taking us down to a 10 month window.

I definitely wouldn’t have signed up to this through your web page (I would’ve followed you on Twitter first – which I’ve just done now), so we can discount that avenue too. I haven’t signed any petitions or anything in that time period, so if that’s a possible avenue we can ignore that too. I haven’t been to any Labour events, and have never met you so that must remove some more possibilities.

So we’re down to a 10 month window during which time I’ve never met you or been to any events you’ve been at in an official capacity, never been to your web site, and never put my name on anything Labour, yet in this time I’ve specifically opted in to your mailing list using an email address I wouldn’t actually use for this kind of thing.

Now that I’ve clarified my position, do you have any ideas of where it may have come from?

The reader just can not work out hos that e-mail address could have opted in to their list. Then another response:

Given the the list of possibilities you’ve ruled out, my best guess is that you may have been on a local Labour supporters list (in error?) that has been around for a while.

Which is unusual as he has not received e-mails before.

I have some idea of the challenges in this area as I used to handle the e-mails for National. I was always concerned about how we answer the question “How did you get my e-mail address” as the methods of collection did vary from area to area. What we settled on was to add a field to the database where we could denote the source of the e-mail address, and the date they signed up. So it might say “website” or “xx MP newsletter” etc.

Just offering to unsubscribe someone isn’t enough. If you are not sure if you have consent from someone, then send them a one off e-mail asking them if they want to be added to your database, rather than assume.

With the NZEI petition e-mail addresses, and the Sevens petition in Wellington, and other incidents Labour have shown a very lax attitude around ensuring consent for those they e-mail. There is no legal remedy for this, but there is a political one.

Tags: ,

Heh

July 6th, 2011 at 3:51 pm by David Farrar

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne says:

Foreign scammers might have over-stepped the mark with the latest target of their tax refund email scams, says Revenue Minister Peter Dunne.

Mr Dunne and members of his staff received emails today telling them they had tax refunds waiting for them and only had to click on the given link and fill out a claim form to get them.

I’ve had a few of those myself. At the moment I seem to be getting a lot of Paypal ones.

“Inland Revenue would never send you a hyperlink in an email. Delete the email from your inbox and trash folders,” Mr Dunne said.

He said it was notoriously difficult to track down those behind such scam emails and websites.

“So it is likely either Nigerian scammers or Labour trying to add to its email databases.”

Heh.

Tags: ,

Labour = spammers

June 21st, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Thousands of people who signed an early childhood education petition have had their email addresses added to a Labour Party database, with leader Phil Goff saying it was solely to let people know the outcome of the campaign.

The email addresses, taken from a New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) postcard campaign against cuts to early childhood education, were added to a database of about 18,000 people that could be freely downloaded from Labour’s website until the problem was fixed last weekend.

Right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, who obtained a copy of the database, said on his website that NZEI national secretary Paul Goulter had written to petition signatories to explain why their addresses had been added to the database.

The letter said the postcards were given last year to Labour early childhood education spokeswoman Sue Moroney, who had agreed to present them to Prime Minister John Key because no Government MPs would do so.

Mr Key has not yet accepted the postcards.

Mr Goff today said people who signed the postcards wanted to know outcome of the petition and Ms Moroney had written back to a number of people.

It’s purely about early childhood education, there’s a letter that’s gone out to some of those people,” he said.

The NZEI in its letter said only some campaign signatories had received Ms Moroney’s letter.

NZEI had made it clear to the Labour Party that it was “very concerned” about the database breach and had asked for the addresses to be deleted.

This is blatant spam. If the petition was a Labour Party petition then you could argue there is inferred consent. But it was an NZEI petition and no reasonable person could infer that signing an NZEI petition would land you on the Labour Party e-mail database.

Sadly Labour can not be prosecuted for spamming, as only commercial spam is an offence under the law. The Privacy Commissioner should be concerned though about Labour’s attitude towards privacy.

Tags: , ,

Another major spam prosecution

February 18th, 2011 at 3:34 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

An Auckland man and his company could face penalties totaling $700,000 for allegedly sending out hundreds of thousands of spam emails and text messages.

Brendan Paul Battles and Image Marketing Group Limited are accused of sending 519,545 spam emails and 44,824 spam text messages during 2009.

The text messages allegedly asked recipients to purchase a mobile phone antenna booster over the internet.

Department of Internal Affairs’ Anti-Spam Compliance Unit has lodged two statements of claim in the High Court in Auckland alleging breaches under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 by Battles and Image Marketing Group Limited.

The department is seeking financial penalties against Battles of $200,000 and $500,000 against his company for sending unsolicited messages.

Few in the anti-spam community will be surprised that Brendan Battles is the identity of the person being prosecuted. He was a major spammer in the US, and while he claimed to have given up spamming when he moved here, the evidence pointed the other way.

I wonder if he has NZ residency? If not then I say deport him after fining him.

Tags: , ,

Can you opt out of having an opt out message?

February 14th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Internal Affairs is looking into whether Telecom may have breached spam laws by sending text messages to customers that did not include instructions on how customers could unsubscribe from receiving such messages.

Telecom said its approach was “common practice”, meaning Internal Affairs’ ruling could have an impact on text and email marketing promotions run by other firms.

Victoria University law student Hamish McConnochie drew attention to the texts, promoting Telecom’s pre-pay top-ups and roaming services, claiming they probably fell foul of the Unsolicited Electronic Messaging Act, passed by the last Labour government in 2007. The act states that all commercial electronic messages must include instructions on how recipients can unsubscribe, unless they have reached an “arrangement or understanding” with recipients that these need not be included.

Telecom sent customers text messages in November telling recipients that unless they objected then, Telecom would deem they had agreed future text messages from the company need no longer include an opt-out message.

Spokeswoman Anna Skerten said those messages created such an arrangement. But Mr McConnochie said simply not responding to that text did not meet the threshold for an agreement under the act.

It’s arguable either way, but for my 2c I think an “arrangement” not to receive opt out instructions must in itself be something you opt into, not just decline to opt out of.

It will be interesting to see what DIA decides.

Tags: ,

The spam red herring

February 9th, 2011 at 8:20 am by David Farrar

Tom Pullar-Strecker reports:

Consumers could be deluged with spam text messages unless the Commerce Commission has a change of heart and lets mobile phone companies charge other telcos a token amount for routing texts to their customers, Vodafone and the Telecommunications Users Association have warned.

The commission is considering outlawing such charges as part of its long-running investigation into mobile termination fees, which Vodafone said yesterday could slash its pre-tax profits by $69 million next year.

The Telecommunications Users Association said in a submission to the commission that the main reason that up to 90 per cent of all email was spam was that it cost people virtually nothing to send. Text spam was a “small but growing problem” that the commission risked exacerbating, it said.

Oh bullshit (with all respect).

Almost all spam comes from overseas. The regulated mobile termination rate will only apply to texts sent between NZ telcos. And NZ telcos under the law have to kick spammers off their networks.

“The single best weapon in the fight against spam is cost. Remove the cost entirely and New Zealand mobile users will find out just how quickly the world of email spam can be replicated in their SMS inboxes,” it said.

With this viewpoint, Vodafone are saying they’d also like to be able to charge ISPs for receiving e-mail in order to stop spam. Can you imagine having to pay your ISP a per e-mail charge?

The reality is that NZ telcos arrangements with overseas telcos for receiving text messages from overseas are outside the MTR regime. And any locally based spam can be prosecuted.

Tags: ,

Is Len Brown spamming Council staff asking for money?

August 31st, 2010 at 12:55 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogs:

I got sent more than a few copies of a Len Brown email that has been sent to staff at Manukau City Council. The truly creepy thing about this email from the Brown cam­paign is that it was sent to inter­nal email addresses, and it was sent with embed­ded links that if you check the code are hard-coded to the indi­vid­ual receiv­ing it so that the mere act of click­ing on a link can iden­tify you to the Brown cam­paign team. …

Not only is he solic­it­ing dona­tions from staff of Manukau City but he is also encour­ag­ing them to join the cam­paign and it is all being tracked in some sort of big brother creepy way.

The peo­ple that have received this and for­warded to me all say that they have never joined any mail­ing list for Len Brown. The code of the email shows clearly that this email was sent inter­nally, osten­si­bly from the Mayor’s office. …

Bot­tom line is that Len Brown has used coun­cil pro­vided resources to cam­paign amongst coun­cil staff and thereby politi­cized the neu­tral hard work­ing staff of Manukau City.

Sending a fundraising e-mail to Council staff is incredibly unethical, if the report is correct.

Tags: , ,

Postal Spam

July 21st, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Just received a very rare postal spam letter from France.

I was curious as to who in France would be writing to me, and opened it to find it was the usual spam con, offering 90% of $3.5 million as next of kin, if I will only donate 10% of the legacy to some charities.

The con artist is actually in Spain – a Laura Fernando Diaz is their claimed name.

What surprises me is that they are doing it by post. It must cost a fair bit to send letters from Europe to NZ. E-mail spam costs nothign to send, but mail does.

However if they send out 100,000 letters and even one person is stupid enough to believe it, they will make money.

Tags: , ,

Labour are spamming

April 6th, 2010 at 3:10 pm by David Farrar

I have had this confirmed from two independent sources now, so it is not a mistake -Labour are spamming people.

Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson has a petition to Keep the Sevens in Wellington. You are required to provide an e-mail address to sign it. There is no privacy statement associated with the petition.

Some time after you sign this, my reader complained to me that he had received an e-mail from Grant Robertson. I investigated that e-mail, and actually concluded that it was not spam. It acknowldged signing the petition, encouraged the signer to promote the petition to other people and also said:

Also, if you want to keep up with other issues and events in Wellington Central, you are more than welcome to join my main mailing list here: http://labourparty.org.nz/page/s/wgtncentral

Now my response to the reader was that this was not spam. A one off response, linked to the petition I deemed appropriate, and it merely offered the opportunity to go on Grant’s main mailing list.

However on the 26th of March, the petition signer got another e-mail. This one was not from Grant Robertson and not about the Sevens.

It was from Chris Flatt, the Labour Party General Secretary, and all about mining. An extract:

Stop John Key’s plan to mine our National Parks
Last year the National Government announced it would review Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. That might sound innocuous. But it’s the first step towards the devastation of our National Parks by commercial miners. …

Campaigns cost money

Can you spare $20 to help fund resources for this campaign, please?  I assure you it will be put to good use fighting National’s plans to mine our precious conservation estates.

You can make a secure donation now. Please visit: https://secure.labourparty.org.nz/donate

Let’s get going!

Chris Flatt – Labour Party General Secretary

Now my reader is absolutely 100% clear that he did not ask to be placed on the Labour Party mailing list. The only way they have his e-mail is from the petition.

So what has happened, is that all the good citizens of Wellington who signed the petition to save the sevens, have been added onto the central e-mail database for the Labour Party.

In terms of what Internet users define as spam, this is definitely spam. Labour are spamming people who have not consented, and they should stop this practice immediately.

Grant’s practice of a singular e-mail acknowledging their petition, and offering the chance to subscribe is an acceptable practice. But Grant, or someone in his office, has obviously passed on all those e-mail addresses to Labour Head Office, even if they did not take up the offer to join a mailing list.

So be warned. If you sign a petition promoted by a Labour MP, you may end up being spammed by them.

I’ve considered whether Labour have broken the law on this. The law only makes it an offence to send commercial unsolicited e-mails. Now Labour are soliciting money, which could be seen as commercial, but the Act has a narrow definition which is basically promoting goods, services, land or a business opportunity.

So it is not against the law, but it is spam, and probably against the terms and conditions of the ISP that Labour use.

As I said, I hope Labour will publicly state they will not spam people in future, and explain why they did so on this occasion.

UPDATE: Labour Party General Secretary has e-mailed a response:

In response to your post, we apologise unreservedly to those who received the mining email as a result of signing the sevens petition. This happened because the bulk email tool that the Party uses is also used by Labour MPs for other purposes, such as Grant emailing people to update them on progress with the sevens petition.

A staff member used the database of signatories without Grant’s knowledge or approval. This is highly regrettable and I can assure you and other readers that it will not happen again.

Good to hear it was an error by a staff member, and not deliberate.

Tags: , ,

Stupid Spammers

January 19th, 2010 at 7:27 pm by David Farrar

Just got this e-mail:

Hello,

I’m interested in placing a promotional link on your page: http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/03/kiwisaver_teething_problems.html.

The link would be for a website which offers cosmetic dentist New York.

I don’t have the biggest budget, but hopefully there is a reasonable price we could arrange.

Please let me know if you’re interested, and if not thanks for your time.

Thanks!

Kim Sommers
Better Link Advertising
1-800-764-8130

God I hate spammers!

Tags:

Silly filters

November 4th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The pornographic connotations of the word “teen” are stopping emails from reaching the government department responsible for youth issues.

The Social Development Ministry is blocking any emails with the word – or its plural, “teens” – from getting through, because it is often associated with advertising for online pornography.

But Labour deputy leader Annette King has labelled the firewall ridiculous, and called for the problem to be fixed.

The word is on a blacklist of terms blocked by the ministry, meaning that only email addresses on a “white list” can receive messages containing those words.

Annette is right – how stupid. Blacklists or filters based on words are almost always over-reaching. Smart anti-spam programmes look at a whole host of stuff to assign a probability something is spam.

Social Development Ministry chief information officer David Habershon said the word teen was blocked because it was often used in advertising for “adult websites”.

“We base our parameters in terms of the words that are on the blacklist based on best practice.”

He would not say what other words were blocked.

The ministry was “continually refining” its list, but had to seriously consider which words were acceptable, he said. “When we find examples of particular words which are legitimately used within certain business units we amend our systems accordingly. But in doing so, we have to weigh up the impact of removing a particular word against the benefits.”

I despair at the thought of departmental staff sitting down and deciding what words to block. Just use a “smart” anti-spam filter that learns as it goes.

Tags: ,

Stupid Spin

September 4th, 2009 at 10:58 am by David Farrar

Tom Pullar-Strecker writes in the Dom Post:

People might be forgiven for taking a joint media statement issued by Parents Inc and Youthline on Wednesday at face value. The charities said they were concerned the Commerce Commission’s proposal to regulate mobile termination charges might have a ”negative impact”.

Why would they be getting involved in this issue?

Vodafone’s charitable arm, the Vodafone Foundation, awarded Youthline $200,000 to build a centre in Papatoetoe in March and has also paid the salary of a Youthline counsellor. Parents Inc announced a three year partnership with Vodafone in June.

And their arguments:

Both Parents Inc. and Youthline are concerned about the other unintended consequences of regulation, such as the potential for an increase in text spam and text bullying. When a service is very cheap or free, it increases the risk of abuse.

They’re arguing that a reduction in the cost to phone or text someone is a bad thing as it may lead to text spamming and worst of all child abuse by text bullying.

That is like arguing we should introduce a charge to send e-mails, to reduce e-mail spam and e-mail flame wars. Absolute throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Yes it is possible more companies may try to send text spam, if sending texts is cheaper. However commercial text spamming is against the law, and further the telcos have a code of practice that bans it from their networks.

Pilbrow says, “One of the issues with young people and parents is that the technology is growing so fast we have not had time to put boundaries around it. Parents struggle with it, and when spam and other areas of abuse are factored in, the issues for parents increase immensely.”

So lowering the mobile termination rate will add to family stress for parents. I can not believe anyone in their right mind allowed this press release to go out with such vapid and stupid arguments – obviously motivated by a desire to please their funder.

Youthline CEO Stephen Bell is particularly concerned about text bullying. “The mobile is such a personal communications device, and teenagers in particular rush to read and respond to a text message as soon as they hear the phone beep. Texts can easily be anonymous, which emboldens bullies and intimidates victims. Anything that makes it easier for bullies is of grave concern and we should take it very seriously.”

Again this is just an outrageous argument. It is like arguing that lowering the price of petrol makes it easier for drunk drivers, or that lowering the price of newspapers make it easier for arsonists!

Incidentially Curia, which I own did some market research for Exceltium for their Lower the Rate, Mate campaign. This was well publicised at the time. My views on mobile termination rates pre-date that arrangement, and my response to these press release is entirely my own initiative fueled by outrage at the arguments used. No-one at all pointed the article out to me, suggested I should blog on it, or even knows I was going to blog on it.

There are valid arguments for and against mobile termination rate regulation. However scaremongering about text bullying and spam are not amongst them, and shame on whomever put these groups up to making such ludicrous assertions.

Tags: , ,

The spamming Mayor

April 21st, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Homepaddock is getting spammed. She writes:

Dear Andrew Willliams,

You’ve emailed me again and given I wasn’t impressed with your first two missives I was going to ignore these two, too.

But I was at a National Party regional meeting in Dunedin on Friday and one of the electorate chairs mentioned that she’d got a couple of emails from you and wasn’t impressed either.

She was even less impressed after her polite response requesting you stop sending her unsolicited emails was met by a return message saying something like great to hear from you, we’ve had so much repsonse we’ll deal with yours when we have time.

We’ve worked out you must have got our addresses from the National Party website.

It’s public so any of us whose addresses are there might expect the odd unsolicited email. But our contact details are there because we’re volunteer office holders who members and supporters might wish to contact, not as an invitation for lobby groups to bombarb us with unwanted propaganda.

If you’re going to send us spam the least you can do is include an unsubscribe option so our requests to be removed from your mailing list aren’t met with another unwanted message.

Yours sincerely

Ele

Luckily for Mayor Williams, he can only be prosecuted for commercial spam.  However it does breach the terms and conditions of North Shore City’s ISP, as Whale points out.

Tags: , ,

Two Internet issues

December 23rd, 2008 at 8:54 am by David Farrar
  1. Great to see a $100,000 fine for Lance Atkinson for spamming. The law was designed to allow us to target the big time professional spam outfits who make us pay through our ISP costs for their spamming. It’s all about property rights, and they have no right to make me pay for them sending me and others billions of emails.
  2. The Law Commission is looking at the vexed issue of suppression orders and the Internet. It is a very worthy topic. As a web publisher myself I find it difficult to obey the law, because I don’t know what information has been suppressed, so it is difficult to police the site for mentions of it, when you don’t know that the info itself is suppressed. The entire suppression and contempt regime does need to be evaluated against the Internet age we are in, and this looks a useful first step.  You can read the paper from the Commission here, and submit on it by February.
Tags: , , ,

HoS on Spammers

October 19th, 2008 at 10:31 am by David Farrar

Pleased to see a newspaper devoting an editorial to the case of the alleged NZ spammers:

Even the most liberal among us might find the phrase “hanging’s too good for them” leaping to our lips when we read about the case of the Christchurch-based spammers.

Send in DIck Cheney I say!

The men sent more than two million emails to New Zealand addresses in 2007, though presumably they spammed a lot of people overseas too, since they made $3.3 million for their “work”, which would have meant $1.65 a delivery if it had been only local.

Yes, they would have sent billions globally during that time. Response rates are well below 0.1%

Nice work if you can get it? Not really. Even the most intermittent web user detests spammers as something akin to pond scum, not least because they seem to have such a low opinion of their target market: they assume, for example, that all of us – including women – are deeply disaffected with the size of our penises and will happily drop what we are doing so we can sign up for a herbal enlargement programme run by con artists in Mauritius.

They are pond scum. And the best thing that will come from the court case is getting their pictures in the media. It was community disdain in 2003 that got Atkinson to at least publicly claim to stop spamming.

Regrettably the court will have to apply the law, but if ever there was a case in which the punishment should fit the crime, this is it.

Let the young men keep their $200,000. Let them handwrite (no photocopies, please) apologies to every household – wired or not, just to be sure – in the country.

And let them deliver them. By hand. On foot.

I like the way they are thinking!

Tags: , ,

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 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.

Tags: , , , , ,

Spamming Bastards

April 23rd, 2008 at 10:52 am by David Farrar

Sigh – my e-mail address has been used on some spam which has gone out far and wide. I don’t think it is personal – this happens every year or so – they generally pick a random e-mail address to use.

But what it does mean is that my inbox is getting a few dozen bounces a minute. Fun.

I seriously think that if I ever met a spammer in real life, and could get away with it, I’d happily shoot them. They try and destroy everything good about the Internet.

No jury would ever convict me!

Tags: ,

Door to Door spam

April 19th, 2008 at 11:37 am by David Farrar

Just been watching (now it is available here) The Chaser’s War on Everything. A great Australian show, with the highlight being the time they asked Hillary Clinton what her policy on interms will be if she became President, and also when they drive through security up to George W Bush’s hotel dressed as Osama Bin Laden.

Anyway this episode had them trying to increase the sucess rate of spam, by doing it door to door instead of e-mail.

So they knock on someone’s front door claiming to be from Westpac and stating they are upgrading their website and need the person’s login and password. Then at the next house they claim to be the cousin of the former President of Nigeria etc. Very very funny, especially when they then start asking people door to door if people want to subscribe to a horny teen sluts website, and one of the home respondents actually says Yes.

Tags: ,

Voice Spammed

March 1st, 2008 at 12:47 pm by David Farrar

Just received an automated voice spam call on my voicemail.  From Roger Douglas, promoting his speech at the ACT Party Conference.  Presumably is being done by ACT.  I have serious doubts that the annoyance it causes to so many people is worth the number of positive responses they get.

Tags: , ,

Spam spam spam spam

August 17th, 2003 at 5:18 pm by David Farrar

Spam has been my major activity in the last three days. No, not sending it, but trying to stop it.

Had a meeting with the DMA (who are anti spam unlike some of their overseas counterparts) in Auckland on Friday to discuss ways to reduce spam. On the way to the meeting read in the taxi a NZ Herald story about Christchurch resident Shane Atkinson who boasted of up to 100 million spam e-mails a day. A further story looks into the ingredients of his penis enlargement pills.

Internetnz decided to lodge complaints with various regulatory authorities and I’ve spent most of the weekend looking through enough penile growth websites to last a life-time, as background for the complaints. Also done a few media interviews on the issue.

The full PR from InternetNZ follows. Should be further updates on this issue on Monday.

INTERNETNZ LODGES COMPLAINTS AGAINST SPAMMER
InternetNZ is lodging complaints against Christchurch spammer Shane Atkinson with three different regulatory bodies.

Atkinson has been identified in the media as being responsible for the sending of up to 100 million spam e-mails a day to promote his penis enlargement pills.

InternetNZ Vice-President, David Farrar, said that complaints are being lodged with:
– The Commerce Commission for breach of Section 10 of the Fair Trading Act 1986, relating to misleading conduct in relation to goods.
– The Ministry of Health for breach of the Medicines Act 1981
– The Privacy Commissioner for breach of the Privacy Act 1993

“Mr Atkinson is an unrepentant spammer who believes that those who don’t want to receive spam should not connect to the Internet. InternetNZ disagrees that connecting to the Internet is a license for Mr Atkinson to promote his penis
enlargement pills to every man, woman and child’s e-mail address he can find” said Mr Farrar.

InternetNZ has been considering investigating the possibility of advocating for NZ legislation to combat spam.

“If nothing is done to stem the tide of spam, we will start to lose Internet users as they become overloaded with junk mail. It is estimated that just over 50% of all email travelling the Internet is now spam”. said Keith Davidson, InternetNZ President

“If spammers believe there is nothing wrong with spamming, then legislation will become a definitive requirement in New Zealand. Many other countries have passed or intend to pass anti-spam legislation. While New Zealand has been able to rely on industry self regulation and a high degree of co-operation between ISP’s in the fight against spam, it is becoming apparent that further steps towards legislation may be desirable if attitudes like those of Mr Atkinson
exist.” according to Mr Davidson

InternetNZ urges the appropriate regulatory authorities to prosecute Mr Atkinson to the maximum extent permissible under current laws.” concluded InternetNZ Vice-President David Farrar

ENDS

Tags: , ,