A QUEENSLAND man accused of being the mastermind of the world's largest online spam operation, which could send 10 billion emails a day, has been fined $210,000 by a Brisbane court.
Lance Thomas Atkinson, 26, who today failed to appear in court, was also banned from sending unsolicited commercial emails for the next seven years by the Federal Court in Brisbane.
Atkinson's spam-sending operation sent emails to internet users all over the world, encouraging them to click through to websites that allegedly used false claims to peddle prescription drugs, as well as "male enhancement" and weight-loss pills.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority pursued Atkinson under Australia's anti-spamming laws after tracing more than 100,000 spam email complaints from Australian residents back to him.
The fine, imposed by Justice Andrew Greenwood, represents 7.82 per cent of the maximum fine of more than $2.5 million under the Spam Act.
However, the $210,000 penalty was of the order government lawyers had sought, telling the court Atkinson deserved a discount for co-operating with investigators.
The Federal Court in Brisbane was told Atkinson had been involved in the spam-sending for 61 days during a period of 14 months, which also involved recruiting others around the world to also send spam.
"Australian citizens find large scale distribution of unsolicited commercial electronic messages ... very irritating and annoying," Justice Greenwood said during sentencing.