12/2/2009

FTC Fines Lance Atkinson $16 million For Email Spam

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A New Zealand man living in Queensland and believed to be behind the world’s largest spam operation, has been ordered to pay more than $16 million for running the illegal enterprise.

Lance Atkinson, 26, originally from Christchurch, was living in Pelican Waters on the Sunshine Coast when the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had his assets frozen last year.

He had previously admitted sending spam and was fined $100,000 by a New Zealand court, but the FTC saw that further punishment was due. Yesterday, the Commission fined him $16 million in a decision mirroring that of the Federal Court in Brisbane in October, which handed the same penalty to handed to two SMS spamming companies.

Somali Pirates Open Up a “Stock Exchange”

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Pirates in Somalia have opened up a cooperative in Haradheere, where investors can pay money or guns to help their favorite pirate crew for a share of the piracy profits.

“‘Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 “maritime companies” and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking,’ Mohammed [a wealthy former pirate who took a Reuters reporter to the facility] said. … Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel. ‘I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation,’ she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony. ‘I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the “company.”‘”

Michael Jackson bumps Britney Spears from top ‘09 searches

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Michael Jackson’s death thrust the singer to the top of yahoo.com Internet searches in 2009, putting an end to Britney Spears’ four-year reign and helping bump the President Barack Obama from the top 10 list.

Although the year was dominated by recession, the most clicks still went to what distracts web surfers. NASCAR, actress Megan Fox, reality star Kim Kardashian, and the film “Twilight” replaced four actresses on last year’s top list.

Until June, when Jackson died of a drug overdose, Obama’s inauguration garnered the most web traffic, said Vera Chan, web trend analyst at Yahoo Inc.

Hackers spread virus with swine flu vaccine offer

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Hackers are spreading a vicious computer virus through spam email messages that urge recipients to visit a bogus website offering vaccinations to protect them against another virus — the one that causes swine flu.

The email purports to be from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, directing them to what looks like an official government website to fill out a vaccination form, said researchers from security firms Symantec Corp and AppRiver.

Security researchers said they began seeing millions of spam messages on Tuesday as part of a scheme to infect computers with malicious software that lets hackers take control of computers.

The hacker-controlled site then automatically downloads malicious software onto a victim’s PC.

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