Owner of online dating firm arrested for sending 5.4 billion spam emails

January 18, 2007 Sophos Press Release

The spam promoted a Japanese dating website
The spam promoted a Japanese dating website.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned companies to abide by anti-spam laws following the arrest of a man suspected of sending 5.4 billion spam emails promoting his dating website.

Japanese authorities arrested 47-year-old Yoshimitsu Hirono, president of Tokyo-based dating website Takumi Tsushin, along with three other suspects. Approximately 90 million spam emails a day are said to have been sent promoting the site over a two month period.

According to reports, the four men have admitted the allegations against them.

"Competition between websites is fierce, and if found guilty these men would not be the first to have used illegal means to get an edge over their rivals," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "In increasingly aggressive markets some businesses may turn to illegal spamming in their attempt to increase marketshare. Companies need to know that by spamming they could find themselves drawing attention from the international law enforcement agencies, and end up with a unpleasant date in court."

Hirono and the other men are said to have remotely used a bank of 128 computers located in China's Heilongjiang province in order to send the spam messages.

"China ranks as the second-worst country in the world for relaying spam, but that doesn't mean that the spammers themselves are based there," continued Cluley. "Spammers may make use of computers in China to make investigations more complicated and to take advantage of lower infrastructure costs."

Sophos recommends companies protect themselves with a consolidated solution which can defend businesses from the threats of spam, spyware and malware.