14th October 2008, 09:17 PM
Spammers in the Fed crosshairs
Found this story in the Chicago Tribune
In Reply to Parent Post by Chicago Tribune
Feds bust alleged spam network behind billions of Viagra e-mails
By Wailin Wong | Tribune staff reporter
12:12 PM CDT, October 14, 2008
The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that it has busted a global spam network responsible for sending billions of illegal messages encouraging consumers to buy unsafe male-enhancement and weight loss pills.
The FTC, which handles the civil aspect of illegal spam cases, asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to issue a temporary injunction against two men in New Zealand and Texas, prohibiting them from sending spam and making false product claims. The court also froze their assets, which may eventually be returned to consumers who bought the drugs. Authorities in New Zealand are pressing their own case against the New Zealand man's brother, who is also accused of participating in the spam operation.
The FTC said it received more than three million complaints about spam related to the network. Officials are still tallying the sales volume, but estimate that the spammers' take was in the millions of dollars.
The spam network, which processed credit card information in Cyprus and Georgia, used servers in China to host its Web sites and also employed a "botnet," which is a network of computers -- including ones in ordinary homes -- that are hijacked to send spam. The FTC said the botnet used by this operation compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world and was capable of sending up to 10 billion spam messages per day. The drugs came from China and India.
The FTC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation but couldn't comment on the likelihood of criminal charges.
Some interesting aspects to this story.
- The sheer number of "zombie" computers used in the botnet
- The number of people who responded to the spam by sending money
- The global scope of the operation -USA, New Zealand, China, Georgia (the country, not the USA state)
- The fact the feds caught them at all
Any other thoughts?
"Few minds wear out; more rust out"
Inscribed over the entrance of Louis Pasteur School, Chicago
Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) in Thoughts, Feelings and Fancies, 1857