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FTC Levies Fine Against Big-league Spammers

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the stop-that dept.

82

An anonymous reader writes "The FTC said it has closed down a spam operation in California that sent millions of unwanted messages to online users across the country and fined the companies involved about $2.4 million. The settlement doesn't shut down the businesses and, based on the financial records of the defendants, the judgment will be suspended upon payment of $475,000."

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I, Robert. (0, Offtopic)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083222)

There's something I have to tell you. My real name is not Adolf Hitroll. I'm born Romuald de Malborough. I've always hated that name. Simply because I cannot properly spell it. So, people are just expected to call me a way I can write it. Hence my nick name of Bob Malda. Well, Even now and then, I have problems spelling it properly. So I used my synaptic network at the speed of (Pepsi) light to name myself after my favourite video game character and my favourite food (with Kentucky's Dead Birds, BTW). So, you might have heard me as Commandeur Taco (As I'm unable to spell Camendeur without my fresh new copy of OFfice 2007 alpha and its spelling'aid, I sometime use some vowelless form).

Years ago, I worked as a janitor in a school. The kids used to calling me names while peeing in my bucket. That's the reason I hate kids. Especially educated ones. I just cannot stand being called a mong while I have no idea where that state is... I heard its near Chinatown, but I could be mistaken. I was expelled from that school after the director's siamese daughters' attempted rape failed (my soiled panties just stuck so hard on my schlong that I could not remove them without circumsing Conan).

I vowed myself to revenge: I created a forum where these asshats would gather, attracted by the stupid stories I'd publish. About anime, video games, television and sometime computers (this depends on whether my old friend "Amos" -name changed to protect Hemos' privacy- who once worked at Walfart electronics helps).
This worked like piss in cake.
I have spent years publishing stories about the various editions of the spare(-rib) wars (get the joke? MHWHAWHAWHAWHAWHAAAAA!) prequels. Next time will be about Blue-something.
They always come and play Herr Doctor Genius... fuxxorz!
What I'm really into is ghey stuff. My prostate itches as I type this. I need that Samzenpus tongue between my ass cheeks. This is stuff that matters.
Until he comes back from the toilet, I think I'd stick to make fat and obese nerds embarass themselves by posting the lame lieux-communs they find make them look so smart.

Oops Kafleent is coming. I can smell she's drunk again. I shoulda've married a sober clean girl but these wonnot approach me. Maybe if I went on some kind of diet?

Ye olde Fristy Pornstar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083227)

A first post? Aye? Come ye and gather around thine post.

Thats great!! (0)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083229)

Way to go, and make sure spammers do not abuse the freedom!!

CAN not stop SPAM? (4, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083243)

The FTC and California charged that the defendants e-mail:
-- contained false or forged header information;
-- included deceptive subject headings;
-- failed to identify e-mail as advertisements or solicitations;
-- failed to notify consumers they had a right to opt out of receiving more e-mail;
-- failed to provide an opt-out mechanism;
-- failed to include a valid physical postal address.


If this can't get them shut down what can? Sending out spam email that totally destroys your computer into tiny little pieces?

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083265)

It will be interesting to see how many individual lawsuits arise out of this case, now that We The People know who these miscreants were.

Or would it be more fun to subscribe to a bunch of magazines on their behalf, and put them on a lot of junk postal mailing lists? Along with their scumbag lawyers...

Maybe it would be fun to see how many junk faxes we can send them, and maybe even bend the TCPA, since THEY established a "business relationship" with us, and telephone them to see if they want a new mortgage or to buy some imitation Viagra or whatever.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (1)

snoopyowns (963875) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083266)

Exactly, too many companies are getting away with spamming. I remember the days of the internet where you didn't have to worry about your email being filled up with crap. It costs networks a lot of money, so are these companies sending out reimbursement to ISPs that have to deal with the network usage of spam? No, because they don't care and are immoral. More restrictions! Heavier fines!

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (4, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083295)

There's an even bigger problem with this: namely, that as soon as business *complies* with these things, it'll be perfectly legal for them to spam you. Oh, sure, you can opt-out, but that's a lot of hassles when you receive spam from thousands of companies; and what's more, how are you going to distinguish spam from compliant companies (where the opt-out links works as advertised) and other sorts of spam that provide you with "opt-out" links that, in reality, are merely used to verify email addresses etc.?

Licensing spam is like allowing people to break into your house and steal your stuff provided they leave you a business card and offer you an opportunity to opt out for the future.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (3, Funny)

Fanro (130986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083419)

I think compliant spam must have some sort of tag in the header?
Not sure since noone seems ot be complying.

But if it would actually work, email providers could offer a simple checkbox "no spam unless whitelisted" and block ALL of these whithout the user even knowing how to set up filters.
Good providers would probably include this checkbox (pre-checked) with the signup process.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083537)

Good providers would probably include this checkbox (pre-checked) with the signup process.

Years ago, I signed up with a provider with such a no-spam checkbox. Even though I saw no way how they could possibly enforce this (especially at that time...), I checked it, thinking "what possible harm"...

A week later, when I wanted to set up my web site at the provider, I found out: actually what the checkbox did was not publish me in the provider's address book. Problem: the web server machine also relied on that same address book to check whether a user wanting to create a web page was indeed a subscriber...

Talk about stupid.

Earthlink Spamblocker (1)

sharpestmarble (875443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085382)

Already done. From Earthlink SpamBlocker [earthlink.net] :
Suspect email blocking--[snip]Filter all emails from senders who are not in your personal address book. You can read messages in your Suspect Email folder at any time, or EarthLink can send you a report summary of suspect messages. For maximum protection, we recommend you turn on Suspect email blocking.

Re:Earthlink Spamblocker (1)

Fanro (130986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085601)

That's not what I meant.

this filters ALL mail that is not in your whitelist, which would include many of my non-spam mails.

what I meant was a filter that filters all CAN-SPAM compliant spam that is not in your whitelist, which would be quite usefull if spam were actually can-spam compliant.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083423)

Licensing spam is like allowing people to break into your house and steal your stuff provided they leave you a business card and offer you an opportunity to opt out for the future.

That's a bit exaggerated. A closer analogy would be like allowing people to break into your house and post advertising flyers, with a number you can call if you don't want *that particular person* to ever come back.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083603)

as soon as business *complies* with these things, it'll be perfectly legal for them to spam you.

But:
1. is it feasable to send spam from a legitimate address? Having been on the receiving end of a joe-job I know first hand how big the hate-mail and bounce flood is. (Does the US (you-)can-spam law require this address to be monitored?)
2. you should be able to filter complient spam on the headers - spamming is no good if everyone is dropping it in the bin at the MTA.

I'd like to know if it's legal to invoice the spammers for the sysadmin and software development time required to filter the spam (and then set the debt collectors on them when they don't pay up). If so, that may well be a deterrent to complient spammers.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085587)

There's an even bigger problem with this: namely, that as soon as business *complies* with these things, it'll be perfectly legal for them to spam you.

Let's cross that bridge when we come to it, shall we? If we can get to the point where all spam follows these rules, it will be a lot easier to do something about it. In the mean time, these rules make it easier to prosecute violators, which is very helpful right now.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (0, Troll)

Lurker187 (127055) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083477)

If this can't get them shut down what can? Sending out spam email that totally destroys your computer into tiny little pieces?

Well, I'll bet this would at least get them raided by the SEALs, it might even qualify for an air strike:

New PEENI-MAX! Dont have small peenus like PRECEDENT BOOSH!!!!!! Get PEENI-MAX NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084308)

They should fine them for everything they have PLUS $100,000. Then employ some of the ruthless collection agencies to try and collect the $100,000. See how they like getting calls starting at 8am until 9pm at home and work. Heh.

Re:CAN not stop SPAM? (2, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085310)

I'd fine them $1 for every violaton of the act. Doesn't sound like much does it? Iet's see. Joe Spammer sends connects to his ISP's SMTP server and uploads 1,000,000 spams at once. One violation. No, each spam email is a seperate violation, meaning that he's just violated the act 1,000,000 times all at once. Considering the number of times he's done it, he'll never get out from under because you're not allowed to clear fines or civil judgements with bankrupcy. He'll be living in a one-room apartment on ramen for the rest of his life because everything else will be grabbed by the government to help pay the fine. Works for me!

Misleading as hell (4, Interesting)

RedOregon (161027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083253)

Surprise... government agency grabs headline, then contradicts itself.

From TFA headline:
The U.S. Federal Trade Comission said it has closed down a spam operation in California


Then in the third paragraph:
The settlement doesn't shut down the businesses


So they shut down the "spam operation" but didn't shut down "the business".

Fat lot of good that will do.

Re:Misleading as hell (1)

Too many errors, bai (815931) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083268)

Who knows? Perhaps the business is about more than spam.

Re:Misleading as hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083270)

That is the problem when people speed read badly, but still believe they're capable of absorbing the entire story with all its nuances in the fifteen seconds they take to read it.

And then they submit to slashdot, go on their way, and believe something that hasn't explicitly been written. It's like a Straw Man argument in their head, without someone to argue with.

Re:Misleading as hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083305)

We were robbed once. Took a bunch of my wife's jewelry, stuff that had some worth, but mostly were heirlooms with lots of attached memories. It hurt.

Turns out the guy who robbed us robbed 250 other people, selling the stuff to fund a drug habit.

I always thought the guy deserved the death penalty, not for robbing us, but for causing pain to so *many* people. Well, we heard he had AIDS (this was back in the mid-80's) so maybe he did get his.

Spammers only cause a little pain to each individual person, but it adds up. Is causing a little pain a hundred million times worth the death penalty? Should we look at the total sum of pain when weighing a crime?

Re:Misleading as hell (1)

pakar (813627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083513)

We should force them to send an indivitual hand-written apology to everyone they ever caused pain plus pay the fines. 3805 years of punishment if each letter takes 20 seconds to write and they have spammed 100 million people =) hmm.. maybe force them to lick all the stamps and envelopes too? :) That should teach atleast the spammers never to do it again...

Re:Hand-written apology (1)

Trevin (570491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084132)

Don't forget: they have to buy the stamps too. At 39 cents per stamp, 100 million letters would cost them ... a LOT of money!

Re:Misleading as hell (3, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083667)

Worse yet. From the FTC report [ftc.gov] . The spammers made $2.4M but the fine is only $475,000. So they not only are still in business, but still profitable. The government just wanted to make sure that if people are being harassed, that they are in on it.

I have a 100K judgment against them. (2, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084300)

As part of the settlement negotiation, their attorney said that they are considering filing bankruptcy. My response was, I couldn't be happier than have them bankrupt and living out of cardboard boxes, and if my suit does not do it, then I will help others do it.

3 spammers down, too lots left.

C'mon FTC (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083259)

So, basically what the FTC is saying to these companies is pay us for sending out your spam. I'm sure the fines will actually go up at that rate, but it doesn't solve the problem per se.

I wonder if the FTC will turn around and use the fine money to pay the people who were affected by the spam? Nah!

Re:C'mon FTC (1)

jivo (889268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083321)

Just like parking tickets will be used to build better parking facilities, speed ticket are being used to improve traffic safety, or environmental taxes are being used to improve the environment.... Nah! ;-)

Re:C'mon FTC (1)

Xichekolas (908635) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083357)

The FTC doesn't have to jail spammers or shut down their 'business' to make them stop. The only reason to send spam is to profit from the retards that buy the stuff they are selling. If you levy steep enough fines, spamming becomes uneconomical. Sure, there will still be script kiddies out there sending spam from zombies just to be pricks, but its way easier to filter out a bunch of 'I pwnd j00' emails than it is to filter out unsolicited quasi-realistic product advertisements and sophisticated phishing attempts.

That said, anyone up for forming some kind of international death squad to mercilessly hunt and kill spammers?

Yes. (1)

DietPepsiAddict (894710) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089719)

Yes I would.

Re:C'mon FTC (2, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#15085613)

I'm hoping they'll use the fine money to fund investigation and prosecution of more spammers, instead of using tax money to do it.

How to fix this (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083279)

Simply go after the PRODUCTS and their manufacturers.

Make THEM police the net or be shut down with huge fines.

I would fine the manufacturers 150 % of the company's worth.

I would also add infinite jail time. Yeah, I am evil.

Re:How to fix this (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083327)

I would also add infinite jail time. Yeah, I am evil.

They'd get off then, on the cruel-and-unusual thing. Infinite jail time isn't fair play.

I'd go for 'one minute per unsolicited mail'. Not per mailing, you understand: per mail. It's hardly draconian, is it? Can't say fairer than a mere minute per mail. But it adds up ;-)

Re:How to fix this (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083385)

I'd go for 'one minute per unsolicited mail'.
To be really fair, sentence them to the time a recipient will have to spend to deal with one spam message. Say 1 second to read the subject and hit delete. 600 million spams sent (an amount easily achieved by most spammers) would equate to about 20 years of jail time. I would suggest the minute-per-spam rule to st. Peter as a guideline of the time to be spent in purgatory.

I think it's a good idea to make the attractive side of bulk spamming (the more you send, the better your chances of targetting a gullible customer), work against the spammer when it's time to pass judgment.

Re:How to fix this (0, Offtopic)

ticbot (578502) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083499)

sounds like the premise for gun control.

Gun Control (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083575)

Gun control, is hitting the target.

Check the wording of the Second Ammendment. SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.

That looks awful like a COMMANDMENT to me. Not an option at some later time.

uce@ftc.gov (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083288)

Consumers forwarded more than 1.8 million of the defendants' e-mail messages to the FTC.

Ever since I heard about the FTC's spam address I forwarded all my spam to it, (what made through the school's filters at least,) even after hearing detracting opinions about it. Good to know my contribution to the effort may not have been entirely in vain.

Re:uce@ftc.gov (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089895)

Ever since I heard about the FTC's spam address I forwarded all my spam to it

The amount of spam I received dropped drastically when I stopped forwarding it to the FTC.

Denmark: $6200 fine for 950 spam e-mails (2, Interesting)

jivo (889268) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083290)

Well, in Denmark we still have some protection of the consumers. A wine retail company recently agreed to pay a fine of 40,000 DKR (roughly $6200 or 5300) for sending about 950 unsolicited e-mails.

I think this is the way it should be. As long as it pays to send SPAM, it will be sent - it's a plain and simple business calculation.

Only shuts down the business, not the people (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083312)

Spam is hugely profitable, because your overhead is nil. That means the spammers involved have lots of cash. And their company probably has no assets, and will fold into bankruptcy because of these fines. So what does this mean? The guys dig into their pockets filled with cash, and start another company and do it all over again. Its sort of a nice noble gesture, from when Congress clearly had nothing better to do, but its about as effective as making speeding illegal.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (2, Insightful)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083435)

That means the spammers involved have lots of cash. And their company probably has no assets, and will fold into bankruptcy because of these fines. So what does this mean? The guys dig into their pockets filled with cash, and start another company and do it all over again.

How exactly does that work? I'm sure the IRS would be interested in talking to them about their financial practices. How is that even legal if the company is incorporated? I was under the impression you couldn't just move money back and forth between the business to shelter it from taxes or bankruptcy.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083571)

I was under the impression you couldn't just move money back and forth between the business to shelter it from taxes or bankruptcy.

You can extract money from your business to your private account (it's called "profit", d'oh). Of course, obviously there are limits to this if you are under bankruptcy proceedings. But if the spammers are any smart, they take their profits before they get in debt...

As for taxes, most places charge higher taxes to private individuals (especially if they earn much) than to businesses. So excessive profit taking is a bad idea from that perspective. Incidentally, that's also the reason why some publically owned companies don't pay dividends, but rather re-invest: to save their investors from the associated tax burden.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084523)

Its easy, you just pay yourself everything. Intentionally run the company almost into the ground. When they fine the company, there's no assets to be had, and you just go bankrupt.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (4, Interesting)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083573)

Spam is hugely profitable, because your overhead is nil.

*shrug* I'm not sure how true that is. I used to work for a pretty big, just-barely-legal, bulk email farm. The overhead can actually be pretty high, since you have to keep several networks ready in case too many spam complaints get your upstream to shut you down (and keep in mind, these were mailings that the people did actually request and confirm to receive and had our physical address and phone number in every footer -- I can't imagine how many more complaints the really illegal shit must get). Unless you can talk your provider into making you the abuse contact for your block (at which point the stakes get really high, because you can go to jail if you start screwing around then), you have to move about once every six months.

We basically had two kinds of clients: people who essentially wanted a cheaper Lyris for their mailing list (things like music groups sending out their tour announcements, churches sending out their activities announcements, demagogic political blowhards sending out their vitriolic screeds, etc.), and people who were hawking products (everything from frozen crabcakes to cool little mouse-cord-holder-stands -- I still have one of those -- to "Get Free Money From the Government" books). The first kind of customer was pretty steady and almost never gave us spam complaints (we ended up giving them their own network). The second kind of customer not only generated a lot of spam complaints (and contractually had to pay us $100 for each one), but usually went broke after a few months. They got good receive and open rates, and even OK click-through, but people just didn't buy the shit.

I left the "industry" a while ago in a fit of conscience, but what I learned might be a bit sobering for those who suggest we attack the companies advertising via spam. If my experience is normal, that won't matter because they all go out of business anyways. There's money in bulk email for the companies sending out the email, and for their carriers (who get to charge more for pink contracts), but rarely if ever for the people selling stuff. It's just there's always some new jackass ready to take his place once a seller fails.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15089435)

I wonder how effective a scam someone could come up with based on selling these people spam mailing service and then not actually ever sending the emails...

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15090433)

Re Theatetus' comment... Goes back to gold rush days. Money being made in "axes and shovels'-- goods and services needed for the better-known thing (i.e., making money from spam by the receivers of the bulk emails actually buying stuff). When I was about 16, way back in the last century, my friend and I decided to make money in a mail order business. We put an ad in the National Enquirer (very expensive, even for the time) "Make money adressing envelopes" We had them sending money, I forget how much, maybe $1.50 back then, or $35.00, I forget, for "information." We made up a little booklet, typed in on my parents' electric typewriter and had it Xeroxed somewhere, entitled "How to make money addressing envelopes." It was just a list of other ads for the same thing. We got some replies, not nearly enough to pay for the ad. Then we got a letter from the local postal inspector. We had to give all the money back. Guess not much as changed.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083624)

Which is why you ignore the spammers completely.

fine the hell out of the companies in the spam.

When they were angry aboutthe chalk ad's from IBM they did not go after the company putting them on the ground, they went after IBM.

Ignore the spammers, nail the companies having their products/ services advertised by the spammers.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083694)

Great plan. Here's my new business plan:

1. Send out millions of spam emails advertising for my competitor.
2. Wait for fines to put them out of business.
3. Steal all of their customers.
4. Profit.

I don't even need a ??? step.

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083761)

Ignore the spammers, nail the companies having their products/ services advertised by the spammers.

Why do you assume that it's an either/or proposition?

-jcr

Re:Only shuts down the business, not the people (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084297)

Spam is hugely profitable, because your overhead is nil.

That is only one reason. A much simpler and much bigger reason that spam is hugely profitable, because people buy from spammers. This seems to go way over the heads of the vengeful people looking for blood. Like the old cliche says, it's the same as blaming the spoon for making Rosy O'donald fat".

In other news... (1)

butterwise (862336) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083313)

The ADA [ada.org] levies fine against Big League Chew [bubblegum.com] .

Never mind the fine... (4, Funny)

lightspawn (155347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083356)

I want them to be sentenced to write (by hand) an apology to every person they've wronged...

and to memorize and pronounce the words made of random letters they include to try to evade spam filters

and to change their names to the one in the "from" field. That is, legally change their names to names such as... let me check my mailbox for a second... "Recipe 4Living", "Approval Dept", "Content Paradise", "Your Mngr. mosettamay", "Sr. Loan Specialist" and "Always Savings".

Now that's justice.

Re:Never mind the fine... (2, Interesting)

homeysimpson (966291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083631)

I'll second that, the first two you list I've had to block for my company. I found a really good way to filter most of this crap, is by the sender. How many people have recipe in their name? Some legitimate companies might, but that's why this crap gets quarantined and not deleted. Another good one to block by is by the html tag to hide text, can't remember what it is. I never could understand all the gibberish in some of these emails, I view them as plain text, then one day I was looking at one in html and saw what they were doing. Very nIAgera falls GReat Axis, use the html tag to hide the lowercase letters and you get VIAGRA. Kind of cool in a way, but should be able to block by those and have no regrets. I'm sick of dealing with this crap. For a company of about 40, we get around 1000 a day. I can usually block about %80 to %90, so that limits things quite a bit, but I get so tired of people whining about getting 10 or 20 a day and not being able to pass that little threshhold, with a combination of keywords and bayesian filtering.

Re:Never mind the fine... (3, Insightful)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083946)

I want them to be sentenced to write (by hand) an apology to every person they've wronged...

I can see it now...

Hello. This is Mr. Spammer, a.k.a. Happy Dude. The court has ordered me to call everyone in town and say that I'm sorry for my telemarketing scams. (pause) I'm sorry. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, please send one dollar to "Sorry Dude," 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. You have the power.

Spam (1)

certel (849946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083365)

I get so much useless spam, it's unbelievable. If some of it was actually something useful, I may not mind, but 99% of it is just a ploy to get around the filters.

No surprise here (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083375)

I am not subprised in the slightest at this.

The FTC is now taking the same approach to spammers as they do telemarketers, in a theoretical sense.

They rather fine these companies just enough to get some money out of them but not shut down their business or cause them to go under. Just another revenue stream for the FTC.

It goes to show they could really care less about these companies sending out spam, they would rather just fine them and make money off of them.

Like I said in the subject, no suprise here. The FTC really has no compassion for what the consumer has to go through, if it's more money for them. they're all for it. If they were to actually shut down the business then they couldn't fine them anymore.

Re:No surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15084698)

I imagine some element of the ISP industry is complicit with these spammers in the way that banks don't seem particularly interested in stopping telemarketer scams.

As illustrated here:

http://wamublamesgrandma.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

And there was much rejoicing. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083388)

(Yaaaay.)

finally (0)

se7en11 (833841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083393)

It's about time!

Now Barry Bonds will stop emailing me questioning why I don't have him on my fantasy baseball team.

I told you NO Barry! Stop emailing me!

Hardly a condign punishment (2, Insightful)

Jim in Buffalo (939861) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083427)

Punishing a massive spam operation by fining them $475,000 is like punishing a murderous street gang by making them surrender a leather jacket. If anything, this is going to encourage more spam, since spammers will see how utterly light and inconsequential the punishments truly are.

The REAL Punishment (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083432)

They should be forced to buy whatever product it was they were being paid to hawk. Penny stocks, V1@gr@, etc.

$475,000 = just the cost of doing business (2, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083437)

Msft does this all time, they blantantly break the law, and when they get fined: they yawn and throw somebody some pocket change.

Toxic waste dumpers used to this also. It was cheaper to just pay the fine for dumping toxic waste, than to pay for the expensive process of correct disposal.

My guess in a $475 fine every five years, or so, is worth it. I expect the spammers to be right back at it.

Re:$475,000 = just the cost of doing business (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083488)

This sounds a lot like what my dad used to tell me: It's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.

Re:$475,000 != just the cost of doing business (1)

lamber45 (658956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15086487)

After reading the article, it seems like this amount is all the money (cash and "real property") the spammers had. Sure, they could start again, but with what capital? This way they can at least go out and start working real jobs, and not use taxpayers' money by getting a free lunch every day in Federal prison.

Good (1)

propertechdotnet (932592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083478)

if you let the spammers spam then the terriers have won.

So if I understand correctly... (2, Interesting)

gameforge (965493) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083516)

These "entities" that get busted are only fined some arbitrary number, and since they rake in a lot more from their profitable spamming business, then there's no incentive to stop. Right? Why don't they do an investigation and find out how much profit was earned from their spamming ventures, and make that their fine? Better yet, they could just find out how much assets they have, and take all. Wouldn't that stop it?

They could make it completely illegal with penalties up to and including taking every last penny you have. So what? Won't they just move out of the country and/or use clever Internet spoofing to hide themselves? Of course it's hard to get people to send you money when they don't know where/who you are... but just because I own some real estate company, and just because 10 million spams went out yesterday advertising that company's product, doesn't mean that I was the one that sent the spam. Without officially knowing the source, as long as I can keep hiding that, I'm in the clear. If they just shutdown the company that the spam advertised, it would become a great way to get your competition shut down!

So here's an idea... why don't we start educating the public about how to recognize spam and NOT TO BUY WHAT THEY'RE SELLING!!!! The day this stops is the day it becomes not profitable. Ultimately, it's Joe Dufus in Bumsville, USA who actually says "Wow, my penis must be really small and/or impotent. I guess my wife got me on some pfvizagra mailing list... I better buy some from this company to make her happy!" or, "Wow, I can get a $300k loan at a flat rate of 5%!! I don't know what that means, but it sounds like a hell of a deal! I better call them..."

The people who keep spam alive are the people who buy into it. That should be the target of our anti-spam efforts; trying to stop people from sending spam is like trying to stop the Internet altogether (since that's about what it would take, if you're fighting it from that end). We've got to get people to quit buying this shit!

Re:So if I understand correctly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15084393)

AMEN!

Not to mention all those people who think . . .

bad luck will happen to them for not forwarding this message to 20 people

(insert business name here) is going to send them a $30 gift certificate for forwarding an email

etc, etc, etc

These 2 links are funny (kinda crude), but really sum up the whole subject of forwards and the like.

The SAME thing applies to spam; use your brain!

http://www.breakthechain.org/awards/9912.html [breakthechain.org]

http://www.breakthechain.org/awards/0005.html

So are we shutting down Nigeria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15083559)

WOuldn't that cut SPAM down by a notch or two?

What an impact! (1)

fuentes (711192) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083595)

My spam has actually seemed to increase over the past two weeks. Thank god for SpamAssassin.

I can't believe people still fall for this (2, Interesting)

Jetekus (909605) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083611)

What scares me is that there are actually people falling for spam nowadays. All the spam I get is full of spelling errors, numbers instead of letters and obviously false promises. Yet there are clearly millions of idiots who check there email and say "Wow! I have been paying too much for Viagra! Brilliant!"

I understand that a lot of people aren't particularly computer-savvy, but if someone came up to you on the street and tried to sell you a dozen spy cameras you wouldn't think twice before saying no.

Glimmer of hope (2, Informative)

VGR (467274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083671)

Like nearly everyone else, my immediate reaction was that spammers make millions and $475,000 is a slap on the wrist that will only encourage other spammers.

But then I got to this, near the end of the article:

Based on financial records provided by the defendants, the judgment will be suspended upon payment of $385,000 in cash and approximately $90,000 from the sale of real property. Should the court find that the defendants misrepresented their financial situations, the entire $2.4 million will be due.
It's easy to see what happened here. The spammers pleaded with the court, "But we don't have two million dollars!" The court was wary and said, "Fine, we'll just charge you the full worth of your company" (which wipes them out, effectively "shutting them down") but it appears the judge added a provision that if the spammers are lying to weasel out of the fine, they will be held accountable.

I have a feeling the spammers will flee the country when it becomes clear they were lying. But at least they will have been forced to give up their nice American lives and their nice American bandwidth. That just might make other spammers question whether the price is worth the profit.

Re:Glimmer of hope (1)

Eraser_ (101354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15088417)

The spammers pleaded with the court, "But we don't have two million dollars!" The court was wary and said, "Fine, we'll just charge you the full worth of your company" (which wipes them out, effectively "shutting them down") but it appears the judge added a provision that if the spammers are lying to weasel out of the fine, they will be held accountable.

We call that perjury in this country. I believe it is accompanied by lengthy jail sentences. I don't see the need for this at all, except perhaps making the ones who didn't perjur themselves pay while the other guy rots in prison.

Insane (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083769)

Spam will never go away, it is what it is.

Now, if theese guys don't get the full $2.4-million fine, there's a serious problem here.

"The FTC and California charged that the defendants e-mail:
-- contained false or forged header information;
-- included deceptive subject headings;
"

I don't expect any financial records handed over by them to be any better.

Treat spammers like drug traffickers (4, Insightful)

Halo- (175936) | more than 8 years ago | (#15083806)

The government needs to treat spammers like drug traffickers.

The FTC should hook up with the IRS to go after spammers.

Basically, if you're caught spamming the Feds come in and make you account for all of your income over the last year. Any money derived from spamming is forfeited, plus penalties. I'd also like to see the penalties weighted so that if the spammer gives up the identity of who paid him or her to spam, the penalty is reduced if that person is successfully prosecuted as well. This way the number of spammers and the companies which contract them get slapped.

Any legitimate business should be able to account for all its income. If a spammer can't prove his income is clean, it is no different than a drug trafficker having piles of cash around which just magically appeared. Anything which can't be documented as coming from a non-spam source should be considered profits of a criminal enterprise, and should get seized.

This is a normal FTC settlement (2, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084179)

If you read through other FTC settlements, this is entirely typical. In return for the "target" company not fighting the FTC action, they give up all their money and promise to go forth and sin no more. It usually allows them to engage in their business, whatever that is, but they must not violate the rules again. This settelment was not unique to spammers. It is the same deal that is usually offered to "guaranteed credit card" rip-offs, rule-violating telemarketers, etc.

Typical language: "Defendants are enjoined from engaging in business practices violating the XYZ act in the future."

Of course, there are those that accept the settlement, and then go right back and do the same damn thing again. When that happens, usually the FTC goes directly to court and obtains an injunction against the whole company, and the offender is completely barred from whatever business they were in. Example: "Defendents are permanently barred from owning, operating, or being employed in any operation that involves the sending of e-mail for marketing purposes."

If they violate this, or try to hide, or the conduct is particularly nasty, they get referred to the justice dept. for prosecution.

Everyone's favorite late-night infomercial moron, Kevin Trudeau (speed reading, memory improvement, etc.) got slapped twice by the FTC, so he wised up and instead deceided to promote a completely bogus book instead. Since it a book containing opinions instead of a worthless physical product, the FTC can't stop him, despite him being as full of B.S. as ever.

SirWired

Getting away with paying one fifth? (1)

rxmd (205533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084255)

fined the companies involved about $2.4 million. The settlement doesn't shut down the businesses and, based on the financial records of the defendants, the judgment will be suspended upon payment of $475,000


Maybe it's just me, but I have trouble understanding how this fine works. Do I understand correctly that the company was fined $FINE, yet the fine will be suspended upon payment of $FINE/5 and everybody can go on as they please? If you can get away with paying $100, why fine $500 in the first place? Or is this just another peculiarity of the law system?

Hey! I have an idea. (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084348)

Let's make buying from spammers illegal. When they raid the spam house, they should put out warrants for everyone on their customer list. Yeah, that'll work.

minus 3, Tr'Oll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15084796)

Bogus Fines (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15084931)

...fined the companies involved about $2.4 million... the judgment will be suspended upon payment of $475,000.

There was an AP investigation a few weeks back about how frequently the state & federal governments publicly announce huge fines that they have no intention of collecting -- http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?A ID=/20060326/BUSINESS/603260365/1003 [dailyrecord.com]

Hell, why not announce an 800 Quadrillion dollar fine? That'll show the public we're serious! Of course, you're off the hook if you can cough up $5,000 or so...

Fast! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15085103)

The FTC said it has closed down a spam operation in California that sent millions of unwanted messages

So they shut it down on the same day it opened?

Stop SPAM ? (1)

wprowe (754923) | more than 8 years ago | (#15098683)

Fines won't eliminate SPAM. When one spammer folds, another starts up. It costs almost nothing to start a SPAM operation and they make tons of money. These people are parasites. They should be charging them with mail fraud and racketeering, freezing all their assets and sending them to jail.

Here's a question for you. How much SPAM would be eliminated if people's home computer could not be compromised by trojan SPAM agents that spammers use to send out their e-mails?

It seems that spam is difficult to stop because it comes from SO MANY sources. If home computers could not be compromised, spammers would have to send their mass e-mails from a very limited number of systems. That would make those systems easy to identify and shutdown (disconnect) via their ISPs. It also would make it easy to identify the originators of the SPAM, freeze their assets and incarcerate them.

Hello, Microsoft. Are you listening? You own 80 to 90 percent of the world's desktops and home computers. I don't care if it takes until 2010 for Vista to be released. Fix the f*ing security issues that permit these spammers to infect the average user's home computer.

Forget all the cutsie bells and whistles you want to add, scratch the MS Office updates that no one is going to use anyway, and sink your resources for the next 2-3 years into making one fortress release of Windows. Start over from scratch and redesign Windows from the bottom up with security as the central focus if you have to.

Imagine an Internet with 70 to 80 less traffic than it has today. That is what you would have if we eliminated SPAM. Imagine how fast your BitTorrent or FTP download would run with so much less congestion on the Internet. We really need to put the pressure on the OS vendors (Microsoft especially because of the sheer percent of the desktops they own). SPAM can be killed. Once spammers have no where to hide, and their risks become significantly higher than their returns, spammers will go away.

It seems like Microsoft could nearly single handedly kill SPAM just by fixing Windows. Am I dreaming or am I on the right track?

Re:Stop SPAM ? (1)

frrrp (720185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15118960)

wprowe: It seems like Microsoft could nearly single handedly kill SPAM just by fixing Windows. Am I dreaming or am I on the right track?

Dreaming ? yes. Right track ? Yes.

Anyone who survived the onslaught of Nimda and CodeRed will agree. These two ground the 'net to almost a complete halt *precisely* because of the volume of default, "everything on" Win2K installs that were out there. Precisely why an enduser workstation used as a wordprocesser needs to have all IIS services running has no justifiable answer. Its the same problem here - why do ma and pa at home need their smtp service on ?

Nothings gonna change while there are still animated help assistants to fine tune.

Frrrp
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