Feds Take Down Worldwide VPXL Spammers Lance Atkinson and Jody Smith

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Authorities in the U.S. and New Zealand have coordinated to take down big time male enhancement and supplement spammers Lance Atkinson and Jody Smith, and their Target Pharmacy, Canadian Healthcare, Inet Ventures, Tango Pay, Click Fusion, and TwoBucks Trading spam operations.

Lance Atkinson and Jody Smith were the muscle behind what Spamhaus has called “the biggest spam gang in the world,” and they recruited countless affiliates to send their spam through a spam affiliate program called Affking.


Using an enormous botnet that has been estimated to be responsible for nearly one-third of the world’s spam, and with colleagues and affiliates in New Zealand, Australia, India, China, Russia, the U.S. and Canada, Atkinson and Smith commanded a spam empire that sent billions of pieces of spam, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates.

According to the FTC, “The defendants deceptively marketed a variety of products through spam messages, including a male-enhancement pill, prescription drugs, and a weight-loss pill. 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.”

Atkinson and Smith also ran what they claimed were licensed online pharmacies. The FTC explains that they claimed “that the medications came from a bona fide, U.S.-licensed pharmacy that dispenses FDA-approved generic versions of drugs such as Levitra, Avodart, Cialis, Propecia, Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex, and Zoloft. In fact, the defendants do not operate a U.S.-licensed pharmacy. They sell drugs that are shipped from India. The drugs have not been approved by the FDA and are potentially unsafe. FTC staff made two undercover pharmacy purchases and were not asked to provide verification of a prescription. The drugs they received contained no dosage information or doctor’s instructions.”

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So will taking this big time spam operation out of circulation make a dent in the amount of spam you see in your inbox? Probably not. For one thing, there are always more spammers ready to step in and fill the void. And for another, well, the last legal action against Atkinson, in which the FTC got a $2.2 million judgement against Atkinson for doing almost exactly the same thing in 2005, clearly didn’t stop him.

Of course, it could be that this time Atkinson may be facing some jail time, and in light of everything he’s done, and it being his second take down, we can hope that he’ll get an..er.. enhanced sentence.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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2 thoughts on “Feds Take Down Worldwide VPXL Spammers Lance Atkinson and Jody Smith

  1. Unless there is still some affiliate residue in the pipeline, the above action hasn’t stopped VPXL spam from continuing to arrive here. As Anne says, plenty of others to fill the void.

  2. I don’t know how much money these people make off of spam ,but, I’ll bet that’s enough that a $2.2 million fine is no more effective than shaking a finger at them.

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