Spam king sets up in New Zealand?

An unsolicited bulk email campaign for broadband and telephone calling rates may have flushed out a notorious U.S. spammer from a low-profile existence in Auckland.

Contacted by Computerworld, Brendan Battles of Auckland denies that he is the same person as U.S. spammer Brendan Battles. He also denied spamming in New Zealand, even though Computerworld rang him on a number supplied in one of the spam messages.

Amongst those spammed were former Computerworld editor Matt Cooney and Orcon network manager Craig Whitmore who also tracked down Battles. The spam was hawking Compass Communications Ltd.'s Wired Country Direct wireless broadband plans, as well as Telecom UBS Ltd. and TelstraClear DSL Ltd. Battles put his Whangapararoa and Telecom mobile phone number on that message, as well as on another spam for national and international call rates.

New Zealand regional and other Usenet newsgroups were also spammed by Battles.

All the services in the spam are supplied through Auckland ISP Compass Communications, where Battles currently works in the sales department.

Battles used Microsoft Word to create the spam messages, and left both his name and that of his employer in the document properties tags.

Originally employed by Wired Country, Battles transferred to Compass when the ISP purchased the broadband provider last year, according to Karim Hussona, chief executive of Compass Communications

Hussona also confirms that complaints have been filed over the spamming and that Battles was reprimanded for it. However, Hussona isn't aware of the activities in the US where Battles earned a record in the Spamhaus Register of Known Spam Operations (ROKSO). Spamming is not something Compass condones, he says, and he will investigate the matter further.

The US-based Battles is known as a prolific and aggressive spammer. In April 2003, an organization named Emarketersamerica.org sued the UK-based Spamhaus, individual anti-spam activists and the Spam Early Warning System (SPEWS) operators. Steve Linford, who founded Spamhaus, said at the time that the people behind Emarketersamerica.org were the Boca Raton, Florida-based gang of spammers including Eddie Marin and Brendan Battles.

However, in September the same year, Emarketersamerica.org withdrew the lawsuit and was left with a bill for the legal costs of the litigation.

Investigative journalist Brian McWilliams covered the activities of the U.S. Brendan Battles in his "Spam Kings" book. McWilliams says the U.S.-based Battles reportedly sent out up to 50 million spam messages per day, hawking things like subliminal weight loss tapes.

The US Battles was also accused of a "joe-job" email forgery attack (a mass email send-out which is forged to look like someone else transmitted it) on anti-spam organization SpamCop in 2003, as well as Spamhaus that same year.

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