MELBOURNE: A Queensland-based man is being suspected as a mastermind behind largest spam operation in the world, responsible for sending out billions
of unsolicited emails in recent years, according to a media report here.
The 26-year-old Lance Atkinson from New Zealand has had his assets frozen by a US district court at the request of US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which also succeeded in having the spam network shut down and criminal charges were expected to be laid after FTC said Atkinson's assets were frozen to "preserve them for consumer redress pending trial".
Atkinson's Australian-registered company, Inet Ventures, is one of four companies targeted by FTC over the operation, which encouraged people to click through to websites that allegedly used false claims to peddle prescription drugs, as well as "male enhancement" and weight-loss pills.
The only other defendant named by FTC is Jody Smith of Texas. Atkinson and Smith allegedly controlled a "botnet" of 35,000 computers, capable of sending 10 billion email messages a day.
The non-profit antispam research group SpamHaus said the network - which has ties to Australia, New Zealand, India, China and the United States - was the largest spam operation in the world.
Atkinson and another business partner were previously fined $2.2m by FTC in 2005 for running a similar spam network that marketed herbal products.
Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) spokesman Donald Robertson said the regulator provided "substantive assistance" to the FTC and New Zealand authorities in relation to their investigations into the operation, known as "Herbal King".
Yesterday, New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs announced it would seek to impose USD 176,000 in fines on Atkinson, his brother Shane and another New Zealand man, Roland Smits, who were allegedly involved in the operation.
7 months ago