Spam crackdown

Who says there’s no good news anymore?

Federal authorities in Chicago say they’ve shut down one of the largest spam e-mail operations in the world. They promise details later today.

This could be bad news, however, for deposed Nigerian dictators, dogs with claws that need clipping or men who, well, you know.

Updates to come. Let me know if you notice any reduction in the amount of spam you receive today.

Symantec’s State of Spam report says 78% of the world’s e-mail is spam. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest you can’t beat spammers.

Update 12:34 p.m.Here’s the FTC’s news release.

One product called “VPXL” was touted as an herbal male-enhancement pill. Advertised as “100% herbal and safe,” it supposedly caused a permanent increase in the size of a user’s penis. The agency alleged that not only did the pills not work, but they were neither “100% herbal” nor “safe,” because they contained sildenafil – the active ingredient in Viagra. At the FTC’s request, the pills were tested by the FDA. According to medical experts, men taking nitrate-containing drugs – which are commonly prescribed to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease – can experience an unsafe drop in their blood pressure when they also take sildenafil.

The defendants also used spam e-mail to sell prescription drugs. They claimed that the medications came from a bona fide, U.S.-licensed pharmacy that dispenses FDA-approved generic versions of drugs such as Levitra, Avodart, Cialis, Propecia, Viagra, Lipitor, Celebrex, and Zoloft. In fact, the defendants do not operate a U.S.-licensed pharmacy. They sell drugs that are shipped from India. The drugs have not been approved by the FDA and are potentially unsafe. FTC staff made two undercover pharmacy purchases and were not asked to provide verification of a prescription. The drugs they received contained no dosage information or doctor’s instructions.