The federal government has received a court order that halts the operation of a large international "spam" ring responsible for sending billions of unsolicited -- and illegal -- emails peddling prescription medications, weight loss pills, and herbal male-enhancement pills.
In a Press Release issued Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that a U.S. district court judge has issued an order that prevents the largest "spam gang" in the world from operating, and effectively freezes its assets. The group has used several names, including "HerbalKing", "TargetPharmacy", "Canadian Healthcare", and "Affking". The FTC has received more than 3 million complaints about spam messages connected to the ring, and stresses that the drugs offered in the emails have not been approved by the FDA and are potentially unsafe.
According to the New York Times, "to pepper internet users with its solicitations, the HerbalKing group used a botnet, a global network of computers infected with malicious software, often without the knowledge of their owners." While Tuesday's announcement is good news, the Chicago Tribune warns that "there are no guarantees that the court order will quickly shut down the ring's web sites, especially because the servers are based in China. And spam operations often create lists of e-mail addresses to sell to others, spawning more messages."