Junk email rate falls 4% owing to closure of spam affiliate

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Ask anyone about Canada's best-known exports and they will likely name hockey, the BlackBerry and discount pharmaceuticals. Now, thanks to the demise in early October of the spam affiliate called Spamit, Canada has a respite from being the world's source for cheap online Viagra and Xanax.

Unsolicited come-ons for erectile dysfunction, weight loss and anti-stress medications – most of which purport to come from Canadian pharmacies – have accounted for up to two-thirds of all spam. In addition to discounted prices, the products appeal to consumers who do not want to deal in person with pharmacists and their staff. In fact, most of the orders for these products are fulfilled from countries like India and China, and many of the products are placebos or off-label substitutes. Some pose serious health risks because they have been adulterated with contaminates.

Spamit, a mainstay in the so-called “Canadian pharmacy” business, announced its intention to end operations due to increased pressure from global anti-spam forces and shut down a week later. As a result, according to Symantec's MessageLabs Intelligence Report for October, the global ratio of spam in email traffic fell 4.2 percent to 87.5 percent. Luxembourg was the most-spammed country in the world with a spam rate of 94.9 percent. The United States and Canada have rates of 91.6 percent and 91.3 percent, respectively.

Spamit set itself apart from most junk mailers by paying commissions to contracted spammers and by making use of advanced technologies, like the Storm botnet.

Analysts expect that others who have operated as Canadian pharmacies, such as bulker.biz, will eventually pick up the slack left by Spamit's departure from the marketplace.

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