"Herbal King" Ringleader Fined $15 Million

Spamhaus writes: "The Herbalking aftermath continues with a federal judge ordering ringleader Lance Atkinson to pay the FTC a hefty US$15 million. After already admitting his involvement to the New Zealand authorities last year now the US Federal Trade Commission steps in with its findings." Read more here.

John Levine points out that this fine really matters. Why? "Spammers are in it for the money, and to the extent they can keep what they get, they'll keep spamming. Fines that wipe out the profits, and in particular fines that can actually be collected are essential if we're going to make any progress against spam." You can find his take on it here.

Ken Magill reports on it here.

Ralsky Gets 51 Months in Prison

Alan Ralsky, a pump-and-dump spammer noted by Spamhaus as one of the world's top ten worst spammers for "quite some time," is off to camp fed for 51 months. Anti-spammers are torn between cheering for his downfall and annoyance that the sentence doesn't include longer prison time, or banishment to a desert island. For more on the story, head over to Brian Krebs' Security Fix website.

Ask Al: Delivering a Monthly Newsletter to 350 People?

Lynn asks, "Al, I'm hoping you can help me out. I belong to a group that has a mailing list of 350 people. Every month the group sends them a PDF, and there are always problems. Some people can't open the PDF attachment. Some people get the mail in their spam folder. Some people (usually Hotmail users) don't get the email at all. What's the right way to get this mail delivered to the inbox?"

Lynn, thanks! Great question. Here are some general suggestions, things I would do if I were in your shoes.


My friend Mickey Chandler mentioned to me that TAG44 emailed him yet again.

They're apparently still putting a stupid "this is not spam" disclaimer in their email. As with last time, they reference a law that doesn't exist.

Loren McDonald on FISUE Syndrome

Yesterday, Loren McDonald blogged about "FISUE Syndrome." What is it? It's where a recipient "Forgot I Signed Up for Email." He writes: "Was That Email Spam? Or Just Spam-Like? Earlier this year, I received an email from a presentation company that I was sure I had never heard of nor done business with. [...] I didn't know who this company was or whether I knowingly opted in for email, and I still don't."

Ask Al: What are filters checking?

Jerry writes, "Al, a recent email from 'Get to the Point' quoted you as below. My question is this: What, exactly, are spam [content] filters picking up from a generic template that could reduce delivery? Thanks in advance for your reply."

Breaking News: Spambag is Still Dead

Mangesh writes, "Can you verify and help me out to remove my exchange server at IP address XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX from blacklist.spambag.org? You can email me on same email address or alternate email address i.e. address@example.com . My contact number is XXX-XXX-XXX."

The Legitimate Email Marketer Isn't

As Laura Atkins points out, everybody who uses the phrase "legitimate email marketer" seems to have some huge horrible problem caused by their own bad practices. And she's right. Actual legitimate marketers don't need to brag. They're too busy making money and friends. Those in the know recognize that waving the phrase around is gauche; a badge of honor worn only by those who don't deserve it.

Karmasphere Reputation Services Shutting Down

Karmasphere, founded in 2005 by Meng Weng Wong as a reputation service provider, provided some neat tools, allowing any Joe internet user to publish their own blacklist or whitelist. Neat! How does one make money doing that? Sounds like they weren't too sure, either, based on the email I received on Monday, November 2nd, 2009.

Two New Zealand Spammers Fined

Vincent Hannah of Spamhaus reports: "Two New Zealanders well known to Spamhaus have been fined for their roles in the biggest pharmaceutical spamming operation in the history of the internet, officials of the nation's Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said on Monday.

"They were part of a business based in Christchurch that sent more than two million unsolicited emails promoting Indian-made herbal products to New Zealand addresses over four months in 2007, the DIA reported.

"Shane Atkinson was fined $100,000 New Zealand dollars (USD71,600) and Ronald Smits $50,000 in the Christchurch High Court last week, the DIA said in a statement."

Read the rest here.