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The FTC has helped bust one of the largest spam groups in the world

The U.S. government has helped break up one of the largest organized spam rings in the world, which was responsible for sending billions of unsolicited e-mails.  

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 3 million complaints from internet users who received the spam e-mails tied to the group.

HerbalKing, promoting weight-loss drugs, male enhancement pills and prescription drugs, operated in the United States, China, New Zealand, and other nations, the U.S. government said.  Credit card transactions were processed in Cyprus and Georgia, and all products were shipped from India and China, with Chinese web servers used to host each web site.

According to the FTC investigation, the group received $400,000 in Visa credit card charges in a single month.  The government has asked a federal district court in the city of Chicago to freeze the ring's bank accounts, after accusing HerbalKing of violating the Can-Spam Act of 2003.

The FTC made purchases from the web sites, and discovered that they were not forced to provide prescription verification, and none of the drugs shipped to customers had instructions or dosage information.

The group's largest botnet, Mega-D, had 35,000 zombie PCs capable of sending 10 billion e-mail messages per day, according to security firm Marshal Software.

Roland Smits and Shane Atkinson of Christchurch, and Lance Atkinson of Pelican Waters, Queensland, Australia, along with Jody Smith of Texas, are named in the lawsuit filed by the U.S. government.  The cases are now pending in the U.S. federal court and New Zealand High Court.

It has been harder to crack down on spam, especially as many spammers become more organized at sending spam offering fake products.  Estimates indicate as much as 90 percent of all e-mail sent across the world is spam.

More organized spam ring leaders are forced to shut down, pay fines and sometimes go to jail, but the government-led effort has done little to curb the growing spam problem.



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RE: Proof the SPAM works
By Mitch101 on 10/15/2008 9:40:38 AM , Rating: 2
While its true that returning an e-mail confirms a valid e-mail address a message that is not returned as NDR to some spammers figures the e-mail was delivered somewhere. As well there is the embedded images which tie back to a delivery confirmation. Then there is harvesting etc etc etc. Yes the spammers are always a couple steps ahead of the technology but most can be prevented.

More people should actually learn there are options in your e-mail client applications to prevent spam.

For instance My outlook client will only accept e-mail that is in US English format. Yes you can specify country. I don't read Japanese or Chinese so any message like that goes to the spam filter. In addition only specific domains and people in my personal address book can actually send me e-mail. Everything else goes to the spam filter. If I order something within the next 24 hours I look in my spam folder for the delivery information and add that domain or address to approved recipients. My spam filter is configured to remove messages older than 7 days. My deleted items is set to 10 days.

There should be a license people need to acquire to be on the internet. (Joking but somewhat true) This should actually be mandatory for AOL users and provide a list of items people have read 10 years ago. Budweiser Frogs to name one of them.

If your going to forward chain letters/jokes/etc use BCC. A feature most don't know exists.

I personally believe if your not in a corporate environment that forwarding should remove the e-mail addresses but ok to leave the friendly names in the forwarded message. People in the chain don't need 30 forwards ago e-mail addresses.

Unfriendly e-mail addresses are better than friendly name given ones.

Buy a domain so you can easily change e-mail addresses.

my 2 cents.


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