Friday, December 14, 2007

The Investigation: Herbal King/Elite Herbal, _________ (*), Genbucks, Shane Atkinson (Follow up)

In my last post I was mentioning a BBC radio programme broadcasted less than 12 hours ago, and those of you have already been listening know why. Otherwise you can listen to the programme on BBC Radio 4: The Investigation

As you can hear in the programme then BBC did an interview with me and was using my research regarding a connection between Herbal King/Elite Herbal, ___________ (*) and Ihug (DSL Provider in New Zealand) in their investigation and did end up with some interesting conclusions.

When BBC ordered some products from a spamvertised Elite Herbal site and afterwards tracked the money through the Bank they ended up with the name of the payment provider As mentioned in the radio programme then is a domain registered by Genbucks in India (Genbucks is an affiliate programme that claims not to accept spamming affiliates). Simon Cox from BBC then called Genbucks and used my research about the connection to __________ (*) to ask, what I will define as a trick question, because he asked the Genbucks employee who responded the phone "if it was ___________ (*) he had called". As you can hear in the radio programme then the employee did admit that genbucks is an "department" of __________ (*) and that Elite Herbal is one of many sites marketing the products that Genbucks/___________ (*) sells.

So what can we make of this research

1) BBC used another approach than mine to track down who is actually receiving the orders on Herbal King/Elite Herbal sites but we both ended up with the same result which is ________________ (*), the BBC research showed that this is done through the affiliate programme Genbucks which is either controlled by ____________ (*) or very closely related to them.

2) A Genbucks (_________(*)) employee did admit that the Elite Herbal site is one of their many sites, even though it's difficult to conclude if that employee really understood that what he was admitting is to know about a site heavily involved with spamming and advertising Genbucks (____________(*)) products.

As you might remember then the connection between Herbal King/Elite Herbal and __________ (*) was not the only connection I found when doing my research, I also found a connection to New Zealand, more precisely a DSL provider called IHug. In the radio programme you hear Simon Cox from BBC mentioning Vodafone, which is probably because Vodafone is well known in the UK, but the fact is that Vodafone has bought IHug, New Zealand, so what he is actually talking about is the IHug, New Zealand connection I found. It's not mentioned directly how they got the information (if IHug provided the information), but BBC has somehow used my information and tracked down the spam to be sent by Shane Atkinson in New Zealand.

Shane Atkinson (and his brother Lance who lives in Australia) has been involved in spamming before and been under investigation by FTC (Federal Trade Commission). As it can be read in the Wikipedia description about Shane Atkinson then he should have left the spamming industry some years ago, but this research from BBC shows differently, apparently he is still active and the "Herbal King/Elite herbal spammer". Shane denies these allegations but the matter is now dealt with by the New Zealand authorities.

So to summarize a long story; This have been a great day for my little blog thanks to BBC, and I hope this is the first step in order to stop the Herbal King/Elite Herbal spam from ending up in not only mine, but also your inboxes.

(*) Reference to entity has been temporarily removed due to temporary injuction placed on the blog and the author of this blog in the case CS (OS) 218/2008 under process in Delhi High Court. Further information about the injuction (order) can be found here:

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