Male Enhancement Spam Ring Dysfunctional after FTC Bust

Paul Lilly

We're not so naive to think that male enhancement, weight-loss, and prescription medication solicitations will stop infiltrating our inbox and filling up our spam queue, but perhaps after the Federal Trade Commission's latest bust they'll be a little less frequent. The FTC said on Tuesday it had shut down one of the largest global spam networks allegedly responsible for sending billions of unsolicited emails.

The FTC received some 3 million complaints in connection with spam tied to the HerbalKing operation, which is said to have operated in the United States, China, New Zealand, and other nations. According to the FTC, HerbalKing received $400,000 in Visa credit car charges in a single month, leading a U.S. District Court to freeze the various defendants' assets.

As is typical of spam rings, HerbalKing utilized botnets to mass-mail recipients. Mega-D, believed to be the group's largest botnet, was responsible for 35,000 zombie PCs capable of sending out a whopping 10 billion email solicitations per day. But the list of infractions goes well beyond violating the Can-Spam Act of 2003. The FTC accuses HerbalKing of unlawful operation of a pharmacy, making false claims regarding the safety of herbal products containing potentially harmful ingredients, selling medication without proof of a prescription, and more.

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