• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Dutch Spammer Hit with Massive Fine

Feb 02, 20072 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

True to the slogan “sex pays,” a Dutch spammer who sent more than 9 billion e-mail advertisements promoting erection pills, pornographic websites and other sex products will pay one of the highest fines ever levied in the Netherlands for distributing unsolicited electronic messages.

The Dutch telecommunications regulator, OPTA, slapped a 75,000-euro fine (US$98,000) on an unidentified man for clogging computer users’ mailboxes with an unusually high volume of spam e-mail and earning about 40,000 euros in the process, the regulator said Friday.

OPTA said its estimate of how much spam the man sent was at the low end.

The most recent fine tops the 42,000 euros levied by the Dutch regulator in 2004.

Factors weighing into OPTA’s decision for a higher fine were the sheer volume of e-mail and the use of several hundred “zombie” computers, or PCs penetrated by the spammer without owners’ knowledge and used to forward the messages.

Dutch authorities were alerted to the spammer by various computer users and companies, including Microsoft. OPTA Chairman Chris Fonteijn said governments and businesses need to work hand in hand to combat spam effectively.

Earlier in the week, a Dutch court sentenced two hackers to jail for infecting millions of computers with malware and stealing personal data, including credit card details. They used the information to buy a variety of consumer electronic products.

The European Union issued a directive two years ago, requiring companies promoting products and services by e-mail, short-message service, facsimile or mobile phones to receive permission by recipients and to reveal their identity.

Customers who believe they have been shout-hacked can contact Microsoft product support services, the company said.

-John Blau, IDG News Service