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.
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