Kiwi lands multi-million dollar fine in US for spamming

Lance Atkinson, the New Zealander who was convicted in the Christchurch High Court last year of offences under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 and fined $100,000, is facing far greater financial penalties after being ordered to pay $US15.5 million (NZ$21 million) by US authorities for his part in the spamming network busted by New Zealand and US authorities last year.

The US case against Atkinson and Jody Smith, an American who was also part of the spamming ring, was initiated last year by the US Federal Trade Commission.

Smith has had most of his assets frozen by the FTC, and will pay approximately US$212,000. He also faces criminal charges of conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods.

Three companies associated with Smith will pay $US3.77 million.

The $US15.5 million fine levied on Atkinson also applies to the Australian-registered company, Inet Ventures, through which much of the spamming was carried out.

Atkinson currently resides in Queensland.

Atkinson, Atkinson's brother Shane and Christchurch courier Roland Smits were all fined a year ago in the Christchurch High Court after admitting running the ring, which sent out millions of spam emails touting weight-loss pills, male-enhancement remedies and other pharmaceutical-based products.

Shane Atkinson was ordered to pay $100,000 and Smits $50,000. The US Federal Trade Commission declined to take action against the pair.