US authorities in Detroit have charged four men in connection
with emailing fraudulent sales pitches for weight-loss
Christopher Chung, Daniel J Lin, James J Lin, and Mark M Sadek
have been accused of disguising their identities in hundreds of
thousands of spam emails, delivered by bouncing messages through
unprotected third party computers.
Sadek's lawyer, James L. Feinberg, said that his client was
"absolutely shocked" to be arrested early on 28 April at his home
in suburban Detroit, and would plead innocent to the criminal
According to authorities, the defendants' company sold
weight-loss patches under corporate names such as AIT Herbal,
Avatar Nutrition, Phoenix Avatar and others. According to Gina
Balaya, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney's office, they are
believed to have sent spam to "at least a million people."
According to media reports more than 10,000 complaints about
unwanted email from the company have been lodged.
Investigators say that they have consulted medical experts who
have confirmed that the ingredients in the weight-loss product sold
via the spam emails would not work.
"It is encouraging to see the US authorities investigate
complaints of users who say they are being bombarded with spam,"
said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.
"However, this is really the tip of the iceberg and more spam is
being sent today than ever before. All businesses should protect
themselves now to prevent spam clogging up their email
"Weight-loss products are just one of many goods plugged by
spammers, but many computer users faced by the growing tide of spam
would probably like to see convicted spammers go on a diet of
bread-and-water," continued Cluley.
survey by Sophos revealed that 80% of small businesses have
found spam has made them less productive. With the growing
convergence of spam and viruses, Sophos recommends that small
businesses introduce a consolidated defence against the virus and