Melbourne, October 15 : American authorities have frozen the assets of a New Zealand man living in Australia, who has been implicated in the world's largest spam e-mail operation.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fingered Lance Atkinson, 26, who lives in Pelican Waters in Queensland, as a ringleader of the network that was responsible for sending out billions of unsolicited emails in recent years.
The commission, which has been successful in having the spam network shut down, had requested a US district court in Chicago to freeze Atkinson's assets.
According to theage.com.au, Atkinson may be charged with criminal counts because the FTC has already said that his assets have been frozen to "preserve them for consumer redress pending trial".
Atkinson's company Inet Ventures, registered in Australia, is one of four companies targeted by the FTC over the operation.
The companies allegedly used spam e-mails to encourage people to click through to websites, which used false claims to peddle prescription drugs, as well as "male enhancement" and weight-loss pills.
Atkinson and one Jody Smith of Texas allegedly controlled a "botnet" of 35,000 computers, capable of sending 10 billion email messages a day.
The network had ties to Australia, New Zealand, India, China and the United States.
Calls to Atkinson's Queensland home went unanswered.