A New Zealand man has been ordered to pay more than $16 million after being accused of running the world's largest spam operation.
According to the Brisbane Times, Lance Atkinson had previously admitted sending spam and was fined NZ$100,000 by a New Zealand court, but the US Federal Trade Commission saw that further punishment was due and fined him $16 million.
The FTC found Atkinson and American Jody Smith were at the centre of the world's largest internet spam operation, dubbed ‘AffKing', having recruited spammers from around the world. Atkinson's brother Shane and another New Zealand man, Roland Smits, were also allegedly involved in the operation.
They are accused of sending billions of emails directing recipients to websites advertising bogus male enhancement drugs and weight loss pills shipped from India, which they falsely claimed had come from a licensed pharmacy in the US. They also allegedly controlled a botnet of 35,000 computers, capable of sending 10 billion email messages a day.
The report claimed that servers in China hosted the websites and the drugs were shipped from India, while operatives in Cyprus and the former Soviet republic of Georgia processed credit card information.
The original $100,000 fine related only to the two million emails the trio allegedly sent to New Zealand addresses, which netted them more than $2 million in sales commissions.