Brothers in spam – the Atkinsons

, posted: 3-Nov-2009 22:23

Shane_Atkinson The conviction of Shane Atkinson in the High Court in Christchurch for spamming was a  long time in coming. In 2003, when I wrote about Atkinson as a huge "make big penis fast" spammer, the reaction from the public fed up with huge amounts of offensive spam was immense. They let Shane know exactly what they thought of his business practices, but at the time, there was nothing to be done in New Zealand legally, as the we had no Anti-Spam laws.

Six years ago, Shane promised me he'd stop spamming, something that clearly didn't happen. He continued to clog up people's inboxes with rubbish until 2007, which was a mistake as that year NZ got its Anti-Spam Act. On October 27 this year, Shane and Roland Smits copped a $100,000 and $50,000 penalty respectively,for sending over two million pieces of spam to New Zealand email addresses over four months in 2007.

Simon Cox of the BBC, and Henrik Uffe Jensen were instrumental in proving that Atkinson was continuing to spam, following the trail of money that ended up at Shane's feet. Even then, Shane denied he was spamming.

Spamming seems to run in the family for the Atkinsons. Shane's brother Lance has the dubious honour of being the one of two first cases prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission under the United States CAN-SPAM act, together with Mike van Essen. In December last year, Lance  admitted to spamming and paid $100,000 plus $7,666 in costs for that.

The Anti-Spam Compliance Unit at the NZ Department of Internal Affairs has done a great job in following the Atkinson money trail, leading to the successful prosecution. They worked out that the spam was flogging Herbal King, Elite Herbal, Express Herbal whatever penis pills, as made by Tulip Lab of India with the business itself being the Genbucks Affiliate Programme. Genbucks Ltd of Mauritius ran that scheme, and it can't have been easy to connect the Atkinsons to those overseas entities.

We'll see how much impact the penalising of the Atkinsons will have though. Given the huge volume of spam currently and the apparent ability of Lance Atkinson to stump up $100,000, you have to wonder how much of a deterrent the penalties in the Act are.


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