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Court Forces Spammers to Cough Up $3.7 Million

An alleged international spam ring--with key players located in Canada and St. Kitts--was ordered by a U.S. district court to give up a whopping $3.7 million racked in by spam emails. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the illegal email drove traffic to websites that offered hoodia gordonii plant extract that claimed to cause significant weight loss, and a "natural human growth hormone enhancer" that supposedly reversed the aging process.

The FTC originally filed the complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, back in October 2007. The complaint included eight defendants--Spear Systems, three corporate defendants, and four individuals. Spear Systems, an individual located in the U.S., and an individual located in Australia settled in May 2008. However, the FTC was unable to reach a settlement with the remaining five defendants who must now answer to the court order.

The FTC's original complaint said that the claims made by the emails were false and unsubstantiated, thus violated the FTC Act and the CAN-SPAM Act. The U.S. Safe Web Act also came into play, a law that enables the FTC to trade information with foreign counterparts, and to protect consumers from internet fraud and cross-border spam; Congress gave the green light to the law back in 2006.

A list of the remaining defendants ordered to pay the $3.7 million can be accessed here.