Herbal King spammer fined in New Zealand

Graham Cluley

A man from New Zealand, based in Queensland, Australia, has been ordered to pay a NZ $100,000 fine (US $57,000) and NZ $7,666 in costs after pleading guilty to his involvement in an international spam operation.

26-year-old Lance Atkinson admitted at the High Court in Christchurch to being part of a gang which sent two million unsolicited email messages to New Zealand computers between 5 September and 31 December 2007.

The messages promoted pharmaceutical brands commonly advertised via spam messages: Herbal King, Elite Herbal and Express Herbal.

Atkinson’s brother Shane, and Ronald Smits, both from Christchurch, New Zealand, have denied similar charges. According to the FTC, the gang were controlling a botnet of computers capable of sending 10 billion spam messages around the world every day.

Lance Atkinson’s fine was reduced because he assisted the authorities and pleaded guilty early, according to…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.