Queenslander “kingpin” of spam

A Queenslander is facing charges in America after being named as part of the world’s biggest spamming network.

Lance Atkinson, 26, from Pelican Waters in the Sunshine Coast, has been named by the United States Federal Trade Commission in connection to a spamming operation.

The email spam marketed herbal and drug tonics and sex enhancers and toys. The FTC received over three million complaints over the spamming.

Atkinson and a partner also facing charges for the operation have been alleged to have sent around 120 billion spam messages a day.

Anti-spam crusaders cheered the FTC’s efforts, which has now shut down a spam ring at one point responsible for one-third of the world’s spam e-mails.

Reportedly, Atkinson and his associates created a handul of companies throughout the world to launder money earned through commissions on their spam e-mails.

This isn’t the first time Atkinson has faced charges over a spam operation. The FTC won a US $2.2 million judgement over Atkinson’s company, Inet Ventures Pty Ltd of Australia in 2005, but Atkinson continued to recruit spammers.

Attorneys for the FTC in the latest court case presented a text message between Atkinson and his brother in December after the BBC contacted Atkinson’s brother for a comment.

“I had bbc world call my home,” Shane wrote in an instant message to his brother. “i think you need to stop spamming asap.”

But the amount of money Atkinson made from the venture was too tempting. Atkinson reportedly withdrew almost $200,000 out of ATM machines near his home from a company involved in the spam operation.

Americans aren’t the only ones after compensation. Atkinson is facing an additional fine from the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs, who have filed High Court proceedings against Atkinson, his brother Shane and Roland Smits, a courier who assisted the pair in the operation.

Trevor Henry from the Department of Internal Affairs said the spamming wasn’t illegal under NZ law, but the department could sue and seek a penalty of up to NZ $200,000 against each of the trio.

Sources: The Register, The Australian