Tuesday, October 14, 2008

GenBucks + SanCash + AffKing + Tulip Lab + Shane and Lance Atkinson: BUH BYE!

A quick note today about some recent news which I think we've all been expecting for some time now.

Shane Atkinson, his brother Lance, and several others are currently the subject of intense legal action against the by-know well known spam operation SanCash, aka GenBucks.

If you caught any of the news last year regarding this setup, you might remember the BBC4 report which connected several dots between Atkinson, GenBucks, a product called "Manster" and a company called Tulip Lab.

Well two very big announcements today confirm, and place in the public record, that this investigative work was definitely on the right track.

This story, posted mere minutes ago, outlines pending fines of $200,000 per person against each of Shane and Lance Atkinson (together the foundation of SanCash), Roland Smits, and also confirms that they ran both GenBucks and SanCash, to promote what are now confirmed to be bogus and / or dangerous products which were manufactured and distributed by Tulip Lab, most notably Express Herbal (called approximately a dozen names over the past two years.)

It gets better: The US Federal Trade Commission also has taken action against the abovementioned operators of GenBucks / SanCash, as well as Jody Smith, a resident of Texas, and four companies they operate. They further make mention of the widespread illegality of how they sent their messages (using an internationally-seeded botnet), and also mention AffKing, which is what SanCash used to be called.

Assets for all of the above entities have been frozen, effectively cutting off the profit source for any mailers who still insist on promoting these bogus, dangerous products.

The FTC press release puts a very fine point on the rampant falsehoods perpetrated on a daily (hell: hourly) basis by these criminals:

One product called "VPXL" was touted as an herbal male-enhancement pill. Advertised as "100% herbal and safe," it supposedly caused a permanent increase in the size of a user's penis. The agency alleged that not only did the pills not work, but they were neither "100% herbal" nor "safe," because they contained sildenafil – the active ingredient in Viagra. At the FTC's request, the pills were tested by the FDA. According to medical experts, men taking nitrate-containing drugs – which are commonly prescribed to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease – can experience an unsafe drop in their blood pressure when they also take sildenafil.


And more:

The FTC also alleges that the defendants made false claims about the security of consumers' credit card information and the other data they were required to provide to buy goods. In operating the online pharmacy, which was called "Target Pharmacy" and later "Canadian Healthcare," the defendants' Web site assured potential consumers that "TARGET PHARMACY treats your personal information (including credit card data) with the highest level of security," according to papers filed with the court. The Web site went on to describe its encryption process, which supposedly involved "Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology." FTC investigators, however, found no indication that the Web sites were encrypted using SSL technology.

The FTC also challenged claims made for a weight-loss supplement pill purportedly containing Hoodia gordonii, a cactus-like plant found in southern Africa that supposedly could cause users to lose up to six pounds a week. The FTC charged that the claims were false and violated federal law.


Really: just read the whole thing. It'll bring a huge smile to your face. If you have an email address, you've most likely (98% chance) received spam for these "products", and anybody with half a brain already knows most of what was just quoted above.

This is a good day, and makes this among the worst years ever for illegal spammers, as well as their sponsors and supply chain operators.

I fully expect to see lots of nonchalant postings on any of the remaining underground spam forums (whatever happened to Bulkerforum.biz anyway?) They can all claim that we should have all "just deleted" all of the billions of inbound messages that these scumbags continually pumped into everybody's inboxes with impugnity. They're wrong. [How does one "just delete" 3000 of these per day without throwing the baby out with the bathwater? They've essentially ruined email as a usable form of communication.]

My congratulations and gratitude go out to members of New Zealand law enforcement who worked so diligently over the past 9 months to fully investigate these cretins. Also: kudos to the author of spaminmyinbox.com who did such great investigative work on his own, as well as Simon Cox from the BBC.

SiL / IKS / concerned citizen

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

This just made my day. :)

wylie said...

king replicas as well as the herbal manhood enhancement have been using my domain email as their return address. i know this as i get a large amount of bounced emails sent back to me.

can i help the prosecution by getting in touch and forwarding copies of this?

this is still happening today, how can i stop them from using my email domain name?

thx

frustrated honest emailer

IKillSpammerz said...

> king replicas as well as the herbal manhood enhancement have
> been using my domain email as their return address. i know
> this as i get a large amount of bounced emails sent back to
> me.
>
> can i help the prosecution by getting in touch and
> forwarding copies of this?


It couldn't hurt. They've been abusing numerous "whitelisted" email templates (notably ABC News and something called Williams Pharmacies".) This is not new. Canadian Pharmacy mailers started abusing templates for MSN and Kraft Foods starting in late 2006.

> this is still happening today, how can i stop them from
> using my email domain name?

Short answer: you cannot. They have dozens of mailers who are likely using these tactics. The good news is: there is tons of evidence in the hands of the FTC and numerous law enforcement agencies regarding:

- Who was behind which spamvertised domains (when you join the Sancash affiliate program, you get your own domain to spam, that or you create your own.)
- How much spam they sent
- How much money they made from each spam run.

So while it won't happen overnight, I'm willing to wager that inevitably, eventually, they will definitely be in a world of hurt.

You can contact the FTC directly via their complaint website: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. I'm sure they'll be very happy to collect even further evidence regarding these criminals.

SiL / IKS / concerned citizen

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time to get some sunlight IkillSpammers. Nice name. shows real integrity. Spam is lame and you're even lamer.

IKillSpammerz said...

Name-calling. How charming.

Anytime I see comments as ridiculous as this it just underscores that the legal action is really hitting a nerve in the spammer community.

Let's see how far the childish name-calling gets you when you're behind bars, "Anonymous".

SiL

Anonymous said...

behind bars for what? LOL

You're an idiot believing some kind of Americanized propaganda. Yeah, the FTC has power to Freeze all their accounts abroad and they were arrested! Ok. maybe their US assets but i'm sure most is offshore anyways. Maybe you should get your priorities straight is all i'm saying.. who care's this much about spam? Spam is not a significant part of anybodys life but yours. we all just DELETE or close and go about our day.

IKillSpammerz said...

> behind bars for what? LOL

You sound like a spammer, or a supporter of illegally-sent spam, marketing illegal and harmful products. They all say the same crap.

> You're an idiot believing some kind of Americanized
> propaganda. Yeah, the FTC has power to Freeze all their
> accounts abroad and they were arrested! Ok. maybe their US
> assets but i'm sure most is offshore anyways. Maybe you
> should get your priorities straight is all i'm saying.. who
> care's this much about spam? Spam is not a significant part
> of anybodys life but yours. we all just DELETE or close and
> go about our day.


If you read the court documents, among other things: you will find that lots of people "care's this much" about spam, particularly law enforcement agencies. It's illegal. The products they sell are harmful. Their sites lie. They occupy way too much time on the part of sysadmins, mail server operators and ISP's. They cost everyone way more money than this was ever supposed to cost.

Where on earth you got the idea that I'm somehow following some US-based "propaganda" is baffling. They were charged first in New Zealand, and then the US FTC also charged them because (obviously) they target American customers. Americans are not the only ones affected by this group's illegal actions. Law enforcement in numerous countries contributed to these charges. I am well aware their assets are offshore. (again: read!) Those have also been frozen, including their ePassporte accounts.

My priorities are fine. I'm sick of hearing from spammers on an hourly basis (especially to the tune of the several thousand messages they send to just one of the accounts I monitor.)

I fail to understand why you would be so dismissive of this. Crime is crime, period. I just happen to focus on the email-related ones. (Why are you reading this otherwise?!)

SiL

P.S. I don't know what will be the tipping point, but one day I'm going to stop allowing anonymous comments.

Anonymous said...

I don't like the illegal pill spam either but their orders are still processing and domains aren't nulled. This guy "Lance" live's in Australia, you think he doesnt have a bank there? or cyprus or belize or one's they don't know about??

They will have a tough time persuading Australian officials do to anything. You sound like a Neo-con right wing activist.

On the contrary i don't illegally spam and have more traffic than LA rush hour. believe that.

IKillSpammerz said...

Wow. Looks like we've got a live one. :)

> I don't like the illegal pill spam either but their orders
> are still processing and domains aren't nulled.


Sure you don't. You seem to know quite a bit about the status of SanCash's sites.

> This guy "Lance" live's in Australia, you think he doesnt have a bank
> there? or cyprus or belize or one's they don't know about??


Well: I guess we're about to find out. Again: read the court documents. They seized 22 computers back in December and have been analyzing the contents of them ever since. Do you honestly think there won't be a record of these banks on any of them? Think again.

Plus: don't forget they also charged an American, Jody Smith, who controlled their finances. They describe in a great deal of detail where the money went, and why.

Spammers aren't big on reading are they? (Or use of the English language generally.)

> They will have a tough time persuading Australian officials
> do to anything.


On the contrary: this was a joint investigation between Australian, US and New Zealand law enforcement. I guess you never actually plan on reading these documents.

Again: you sound like a supporter of these criminals.

> You sound like a Neo-con right wing activist.

Rrrright. Well at least you've identified your nationality.

> On the contrary i don't illegally spam and have more traffic
> than LA rush hour. believe that.


[Note: only a spammer would refer to "traffic" in this way.]

If you're trying to impress me -- or anyone really -- you're not setting the bar nearly high enough. I could care less how much "traffic" you get.

Regarding these particular charges: it actually is immaterial whether you spam legally or illegally. If you promote sites like the ones SanCash / AffKing were getting their mailers to spew - that's illegal. Their sites were operating illegally, selling harmful and bogus products. They lied on these sites continually. They made numerous claims which were simply and provably not true. Who cares whether you're using a botnet if the end goal is to profit off a stack of lies?

As it turns out: they just happened to have been spamming in ways that were provably fraudulent and illegal, and they did so consistently for months.

The same is also true for any sites from Gang Productions (International Rx,) or Glavmed / Spamit (Canadian Pharmacy, Generic Pharmacy,) or Bulker.biz (now known as bulkerbiz.com, sites include Canadian Health&Care Mall and that old standby My Canadian Pharmacy.) They lie, constantly. Their products are bullshit, and they pose a very genuine threat to the public's health.

If you're so proud of your own alleged "traffic" why don't you mention who it's on behalf of? (And why continually post anonymously?) I think we all know why.

Again: nothing we haven't heard from mailers before. First you say I'm wasting my time, then you suddenly turn it into "they'll never find all the money." Make up your mind.

SiL

Anonymous said...

> You sound like a Neo-con right wing activist.

Rrrright. Well at least you've identified your nationality.

What's this supposed to mean? You're racist on top of it?

No where does it say Australian officials. It says they moved there recently.

Don't illegally spam or spam illegal things period. Lol. You know how many legit Ad networks there are buddy? All that botnet / pills stuff is unnecessary if you follow certain guidelines.

[Note: only a spammer would refer to "traffic" in this way.]
That's ignorant.

Hasn't your mom ever told you not to believe everything you hear or read?

I'll stop with this since this is a complete waste of time. Do you get laid have you ever got laid ? Atleast the spammers are doing something. Bettering their lives for one. You're the number 1 hater. Congrats,

Make sure to vote for McCain. You're a typical ignorant American.

IKillSpammerz said...

> > You sound like a Neo-con right wing activist.
>
> Rrrright. Well at least you've identified your nationality.
>
> What's this supposed to mean? You're racist on top of it?


The English language: do you speak it?

I said nationality, NOT ethnicity!

Ridiculous!

> No where does it say Australian officials. It says they
> moved there recently.


I'll quote from the FTC press release first (since you refuse to actually read it):

"Authorities in New Zealand also have taken legal action, working in tandem with the FTC."

That's part 1.

"The defendants include two individuals – Lance Atkinson, a New Zealand citizen living in Australia, and Jody Smith of Texas – and four companies they control: Inet Ventures Pty Ltd., Tango Pay Inc., Click Fusion Inc., and TwoBucks Trading Limited."

Part 2. I know it says Lance (only) lived in Australia.

Here comes part 3:

"The FTC would like to thank the following groups for their collaboration in bringing this case: the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs; the Australian Communications and Media Authority; the U.S. FDA, Office of Generic Drugs and Division of Pharmaceutical Analysis; the Chicago-based National Association of Boards of Pharmacy; CastleCops, a non-profit group focused on Internet safety; and Marshall Software (NZ) Ltd."

That means: they were working with a variety of groups (including those located in Australia) to draw up these charges. That's just from the FTC charges.

By the way if you need further proof: they only unsealed the FTC actions once they were sure that all parties had been served. So what does that tell you? For some reason you are hopeful that Lance Atkinson should somehow get away or not get charged. You are already too late.

If you read any of the hundreds of news stories posted around the world you will also see that New Zealand law enforcement also worked closely with both the FTC and Australian law enforcement. They also mention that Lance (only) is living in Australia, but that he is a New Zealand citizen.

Jurisdictionally: Lance Atkinson now has to answer to (a) the New Zealand charges and (b) the FTC charges. He has less than 30 days to do so. Same goes for all the other defendants.

Trust me: Australia law enforcement is well aware of who and where he is. :)

Want more background as to who cooperated in this investigation? Try this, or this. And most importantly, this.

> Don't illegally spam or spam illegal things period. Lol. You
> know how many legit Ad networks there are buddy? All that
> botnet / pills stuff is unnecessary if you follow certain
> guidelines.


Agreed - and note that when I do have a beef with any mailer, it's one who (a) mails using botnets (b) promotes products which are illegal or fraudulent or both, (c) promotes sites which are obviously lying with every word they say, and most importantly (d) mails everybody whether they want it or not, and doesn't allow them to ever get off their lists. If you're part of a "legitimate" affiliate program, but you never gather your lists from anything other than harvesting or purchasing of dubious lists: you're not acting ethically, and I (and others) will never perceive you as a "legitimate" marketer.

> [Note: only a spammer would refer to "traffic" in this way.]
> That's ignorant.


It's accurate! The average reader of this blog is not a spammer. They're someone who (like me) despises the sheer volume of bullshit spam they receive day in and day out. They never use a term like "traffic". The only ones who have ever use that kind of terminology in any communications with me have been died-in-the-wool spammers.

Further: you made that statement in the hopes I would somehow be impressed (another thing every spammer who's commented on here has done routinely.) I could care less how much you make. I never will, but especially not if you're making it by promoting idiotic scams like the Atkinsons were doing.

> Hasn't your mom ever told you not to believe everything you
> hear or read?


Again: why are you here?

> I'll stop with this since this is a complete waste of time.
> Do you get laid have you ever got laid ?


You've just (again) said something that every typical spammer has said in their comments on this blog.

> Atleast the spammers are doing something. Bettering their lives for one.
> You're the number 1 hater. Congrats,


Oh boo hoo. Spammers are criminals. "Bettering their lives" is not what I would say they are doing. Everytime they get found out, investigated, indicted, charged, arrested, put on trial or convicted, someone like you comes along to claim I'm somehow wasting my time. It's uncanny.

> Make sure to vote for McCain. You're a typical ignorant
> American.


I am not American, you anonymous coward. And I see we're back with the name-calling (more typical spammer behavior.) You're not doing yourself any favors.

I welcome discourse on these topics, but this is not discourse.

If you are mailing legitimately, and not promoting crap-ass "products" like VPXL or bullshit sites like "Canadian Pharmacy", I don't have a beef with you. But you're standing up for four individuals here. as well as several shell companies they created to deliberately hide their financial activity, who are in my opinion (and, fortunately, that of several courts) total scum. Nobody in their right mind would call what they did "marketing." They are con artists and criminals, plain and simple, and their number is up.

Clearly you're upset that these charges have come up against these individuals. I would hope this makes you think twice about your line of "work".

SiL

Anonymous said...

well put. we'll see what happens though. They might only have to pay a fine or something which will just be the cost of business. It's really only the American justice system who are that extreme on spam. they don't like not being able to tax that 35 cents or whatever it costs at the post office nowadays to send mail.

People are still getting murdered everyday in our own cities and people dying in Iraq. maybe that is a slight bigger issue then some crap on the internet.

bottom line: corporations are losing money due to spam. it's all about the money.

IKillSpammerz said...

> People are still getting murdered everyday in our own cities
> and people dying in Iraq. maybe that is a slight bigger
> issue then some crap on the internet.


> bottom line: corporations are losing money due to spam.
> it's all about the money.


People are dying from these fake / harmful pills. There is lots of documented evidence to back that claim up. That makes it more than some ridiculous "governmental" or "corporate" issue. These idiots are selling fake products that kill people. They know this. So do other spammers promoting these bullshit products. That sickens me.

Also: spammers have effectively destroyed email as a means of communication. That's pissing off more than "corporations".

Quit trying to brush this off as "unimportant". Comparing this to a five year (and counting) war is ridiculous. Even I wouldn't do that. I can't fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, so I do this. Deal with it.

SiL

Anonymous said...

I was wondering something.. If they are from new zealand.. aren't they just going to have to pay a fine? Are there any laws over there for mailing via botnets or just the ANTI SPAM laws?? Would the US have to actually try to extradite to get them arrested? I know their USA assets they can kiss goodbye and well Jody is f*cked but Lance and the others might just get a slap on the wrist. Have you looked further into this? let me know. thanks

IKillSpammerz said...

> I was wondering something.. If they are from new zealand..
> aren't they just going to have to pay a fine? Are there any
> laws over there for mailing via botnets or just the ANTI
> SPAM laws?? Would the US have to actually try to extradite
> to get them arrested? I know their USA assets they can kiss
> goodbye and well Jody is f*cked but Lance and the others
> might just get a slap on the wrist. Have you looked further
> into this? let me know. thanks


The New Zealand charges are civil charges, not criminal, and yes under their very strict anti-spamming laws, each of the individuals now owes the NZ courts $200,000 NZD (~$160,000 USD, literally a slap on the wrist.) However they have also been ordered by the NZ courts to cease spamming, period. Of course we know how well that worked after the June 2005 US FTC charges against them (totalling 2.2 million in fines, which they have never paid. They claimed they would stop, and they very obviously did not.)

But don't just sum up the US actions by saying "their USA assets they can kiss goodbye" (they already have, they're frozen): The US charges open a very large door for other courts in other territories to go after this group, and anyone else involved in their operation. (Since they spammed people in numerous countries around the world.

It's the new FTC charges (which *are* criminal charges, and also federal charges) coupled with the previous 2005 charges which have the potential to do the most damages here, and keep in mind: this is only the beginning. Australia and New Zealand both have an extradition treaty with the US (see the complete list of countries here, and given that this is now a second very lengthy and very detailed set of charges against all of these individuals, they would be strongly compelled to take action on this extradition should it be ordered. We'll have to wait and see.

These charges are literally the tip of the iceberg, however. I feel certain we will see numerous other charges against these individuals and their companies on behalf of several international courts throughout the coming months.

Failure to respond to these charges effectively means that they would be hard-pressed to set up a new business ever again in this type of "work."

I'd also like to add: Tulip Lab will most likely also come under legal scrutiny, since the charges from the FTC outline that their products were not safe, and were not FDA approved, and in many cases contained harmful products. As we speak: Tulip Lab has lost a very large outlet into the world's illicit market for fake, harmful drugs which they've been foisting on the public via illegal spam (among other means) for years.

SiL

P.S. In an earlier comment, our spam supporter asked "who care's" [sic] about spam? I quote from the FTC press release:

"The Federal Trade Commission has received more than three million complaints about spam messages connected to this operation, and estimates that it may be responsible for sending billions of illegal spam messages."

And that was just from the US. I know for a fact that several hundreds of thousands of individuals also filed complaints to New Zealand authorities. Face the facts: fewer that 0.01% of recipients "like" receiving spam. It is far more than just a "nuisance", people hate this crap. Stop sending it to people who don't want it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. that's true. I don't think realistically anybody's going to get extradited for spamming though sorry to say. They have a hard time extraditing people for Murder for christ sake. LOL

Late last night i was watching this infomercial about a product called "extenze" which was an herbal penis enlargement supplement but obviously not illegally spammed. Extenze was not reviewed by FDA or anything either.

I think they(affking) could be charged with some computer hacking related charges in New Zealand and Australia however but unlikely. It says that Jody was withdrawing cash though so either he was spending a lot of doe or getting it all out and still has cash, but i doubt the dumbass even has a passport though or who knows maybe does and already dissapeared lol.

I think the outcome will be interesting. Lance will likely just pay the fines and relocate again like an insane person.

Ultimately they're still out of business for the time being which was FTC's Goal. or are they? I am still seeing "Canadian Healthcare" spam in my GMAIL.

They are stupid for spamming , all the risk is unnecessary should probably evaluate their friends and ppl who are making this acceptable. Of course in Russia or abroad this type of stuff isn't exactly illegit. That may be their problem. Plenty of self proclaimed US spammers who have been spamming for decades and not in jail (ie; spamford wallace) somehow always using the laws to their advantage and doing nothing as illegal i suppose. since there are ways around them.

This may be the beggining of new shutdowns to come. we'll see

Chris said...

genbucks network is mainly used by blackhatters.. they don't care about spam or cookie stuffing like other networks do.

i found it funny in one of your FDA quotes they were saying 'its not 100% herbal its got drug X also found in Viagra'. The FDA likes to make it seem like their herbal supplement is the devil while they approved Viagra. I understand one is claiming to be herbal but still funny as hell.

want more scams?
http://www.affdollars.com/?p=58
http://www.affdollars.com/?p=50

I think you should expand from just email span, you got some good articles going.

cheers

IKillSpammerz said...

Chris said:

> I think you should expand from just email span, you got some
> good articles going.


Thanks for the kind words. My research started from a primarily email spam position when I started doing it back in 2003. Really in the past two years it has definitely broadened to more general affiliate program research no matter how they are promoted, and further into how the hierarchy of an online fraud operation works, whether that's a fake pharmacy, fake replica crappy accessories, fake / harmful software, etc.

Fortunately the biggest difference is that when I started, there was not much information available anywhere online about any of these clearly criminal operations. That is absolutely not the case anymore.

Thanks for commenting. I'll take a look into that blog.

SiL