A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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February 16, 2006

Asterisk on pop-up mogul's gold

dale begg-smithThere's already a tarnish on the gold medal won by Australian mogul skier Dale Begg-Smith at the Olympics in Turin this week.

While the 21-year-old Begg-Smith may not have been involved in doping or cheating on the slopes, the way he richly supported himself while training was incredibly unsportsmanlike and probably illegal: Begg-Smith was a key player in a company that infected other peoples' computers with adware a.k.a. spyware.

Canadian-born Begg-Smith reportedly is president of AdsCPM Network (a.k.a. CPM Media Inc.), a firm notorious for using "driveby downloads," security exploits, and other cheap tricks to install spyware (including keyloggers and browser hijackers) on unsuspecting Internet users' computers.

I say the IOC ought to investigate Begg-Smith's business conduct to determine whether it tarnishes the reputation of the Olympic movement.

AdsCPM.com is currently offline, but an archived version of the site says the company served up 20 million pop-ups per day. Other sites hosted at the same IP address indicate the reach of the company's spyware enterprise. They include two sites infamous for distributing spyware ---FREESCRATCHANDWIN.COM and XZOOMY.COM, as well as one selling pop-up blocking software, kill-pop-ups.com.

The Olympic Code of Ethics says participants "must not act in a manner likely to bring the reputation of the Olympic Movement into disrepute." How about blackmailing Internet users by displaying pop-ups advertising spyware removal software?

Begg-Smith's business apparently enabled him to drive a Lamborghini, but it has cost individuals and corporations dearly to clean up the mess created by the spyware.

Watch your anti-virus program warn you not to install the adware program formerly offered at one of Begg-Smith's other projects, 2nd-thought.com.

Other sketchy sites associated with Begg-Smith include newtopsites.com, huntfly.com, and adultexpressview.com.

One of Begg-Smith's most harmless Internet businesses was Thin Air Sports, through which he apparently tried to sell used ski gear, including jackets and other clothing worn during national competitions.

Typical of shady Internet businesses, CPM Media and AdsCPM don't include any detailed company information at their web sites. Their domain registrations generally list a post-office box (PO Box 8978) in Moscow, Idaho. That same box number is given in an Idaho business registration for IZUMISOFT, LLC, which shows programmer JOSHUA ARIIZUMI as its registered agent. I had no success in reaching Ariizumi today.

Posted by brian at February 16, 2006 3:37 PM


Leave the Olympic movement out of this. In a couple of years every public person will have to live inside a bubble to avoid contact with the outter world, lest some institution they're associated with be tarnished by their actions.

Posted by: Hieronymus at February 16, 2006 7:59 PM

Dale Begg-Smith; How low can someone go? You're suppose to represent "Achivement, Respect, and Nobility" With which follows the idea to "Inspire"! the generation of tomorrow, how could do something like this and get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror? Must be, you just forgot. I sincerely hope justice doesn't just let him get away with it. I feel these acts of phising, pop-ups, spyware, spam, along with viruses and trojans, be treated as serious crimes and delt with, justifiable consequences's.

Posted by: 6Realms at February 16, 2006 8:10 PM

I friggin hate pop ups.

People that foist them on to users are scum.

Posted by: pop down now at February 16, 2006 8:17 PM

olympic jackass

Posted by: nicolas at February 16, 2006 8:30 PM

People look up to our sport stars, these people need to be good role models. Scum bag spammers and spyware should only be representing themselves in court, not representing their country!

Posted by: the future of mankind at February 16, 2006 8:34 PM

I'm an aussie and i still think this guy is a
twat. Good skiier though..

Posted by: at February 16, 2006 8:45 PM

Rumour and lies.

Posted by: Andjam at February 16, 2006 8:48 PM

Aussies keep him! Canadians don't need any more scum, we have enough already.

Posted by: Daniel at February 16, 2006 8:53 PM

We ozzies are so desperate to excel at any sport on the world stage. We'd welcome Sadam's boys if they were champions at something (and still alive). We'd even pay 'em to buy our stuff, oops we did that already...

Posted by: Mark at February 16, 2006 8:56 PM

If this is true, then he is scum. Bottom feeding scum.

I'm Australian, and I'm ashamed that this crook is associated with our olympic team.

Posted by: Mick at February 16, 2006 8:59 PM

the man needs a shovelling... and his Lambo should be given to me...

Posted by: Gian at February 16, 2006 9:25 PM

Dale Begg-Smith; How low can someone go? You're suppose to represent "Achivement, Respect, and Nobility" With which follows the idea to "Inspire"! the generation of tomorrow, how could you do something like this and get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror? Must be, you just forgot. I sincerely hope justice doesn't just let him get away with it. I feel these acts of phishing, pop-ups, spyware, spam, along with viruses and trojans, be treated as serious crimes and delt with, justifiable consequences's.

Posted by: 6Realms at February 16, 2006 9:38 PM

He doesn't seem that enthusiastic about his gold medal win... I think he is a doosh bag.

Posted by: Daniel at February 16, 2006 10:07 PM

When the Indonesians have shot the Aussie drug runners, they can shoot this Scum-Bag.

Posted by: jacko at February 16, 2006 10:14 PM

Mark, what are you talking about? Australia bloody well focuses on sport to unhealthy levels. Ever noticed that THE FIRST previews of the news at night are usually the sport related ones, then comes the terrorism, etc. We have done well over the years. Tennis, Cricket, Rugby, Swimming, Moto GP, etc. We do alright considering we are not the richest nation in the World and there is only 20 million of us. PS, Canada PLEASE take that Dale scumbag back. I don't want him or his gold.

Posted by: Shane at February 16, 2006 11:40 PM

Good luck to him. Don't blame him for using a viable business to support his chosen lifestyle. We should all be so lucky. Instead, people should take it on the chin, realise it is their responsibility to look after their own computers and understand that they don't *have to* have pop-ups or spyware on their computer. If you don't know enough about operating your machine, don't drive it!

Posted by: Xavier at February 17, 2006 3:54 AM

Please someone hit him fast while we can.

Posted by: JPL at February 17, 2006 4:15 AM

Probably illegal? Certainly illegal, in this case. It's not just spyware, it's exploits.

CPM Media/Pacimedia/AdSavior/KVM Media/Pan-Advert/Sea Media/etc. install their spyware and huge quantities of other people's through browser security hole exploits. Over the last few years they've been the biggest user of illegal browser exploits outside of the Russian-language adult webmaster community (aka CWS).

Posted by: And at February 17, 2006 4:29 AM

Xavier: by your argument it is my fault if somebody walks through my front door and steals my goods. My fault because I didn't lock the door? No, a thief is a thief is a thief. This guy may not be actually stealing anything, but if the allegations are true, what he is doing is akin to pouring paint stripper over your car and then offering to respray it at the going market rate.
All spammers, hijackers and spyware pushers are scumbags and will go far in life, because scum prosper. Just look at the board of directors of any major transnational corporation.

Posted by: barryw at February 17, 2006 7:22 AM

1. One of the first things I learned when I went the first year to my law school is that we must diferentiate between something unethical and something illegal. Even though something is unethical, we must allow people to do it unless it is explicitly banned by laws (I don't know english exact translation of these terms because they involve a deep knowledge of a Common Law system and we, in Chile, live under a Civil Law system, but they translate roughly to "will authonomy principle" and "minimum intervention of the criminal laws principle"). So, this business is certainly highly unethical, but it's legal, almost in Australia.

2. You know now the man who file a suit against, if you feel that the spyware that he and his company drove into your computers caused damage. That's also true.

3. Also, I make myself two questions.
a) Why does an elite sportsman, gold medalist, need to finance his career through a spam delivery company? Wasn't enough with Australian sports programs? Are there any chances of seeing him, when he finishes his sports career, studying at the university, changing his life into a succesful one?
b) Why does the Internet industry allow spam delivery as a viable business? Why, when they love charge for anything, didn't they charge, say, $0.005 (half cent) per email sent? That's no trouble for us, users, but if you send 16,000,000 messages a day, you are in serious trouble.

Posted by: Alejandro Nova at February 17, 2006 10:03 AM

Xavier, you're a tosser. I bet you were on Sony's side during the rootkit debacle as well. No, no need to argue, or even open your mouth - you've proved you're a tosser, and I'm afraid you won't convince us otherwise. The kind of software distributed by his company is designed to circumvent detection by suspecting and unsuspecting users. He gets to drive around in a Lamborghini and train enough to win a gold medal. I get to sit for hours removing his software from my machine, because no, I don't HAVE TO have spyware on it. Yeah, I'll take it on the chin. And so would he, if I ever met the filthy scumbag. Now go back to writing your new trojan, you'll make it someday, Xavier, you dreamer you! Maybe you can suck whatever you can out of society as well - don't worry about those victims, they're just faceless masses! Myself, I'd prefer to help people, but hey, that's just me.

Posted by: Xavier's A Tosser at February 17, 2006 10:25 AM

Meanwhile Jeremy Bloom cannot play football and ski.

Anyway we could, you know, hook up Begg-Smith's software with the NCAA and Olympics computers?

Posted by: Bob Loblaw at February 17, 2006 12:36 PM

Does anybody have any actual proof or evidence that this guy is actually involved in AdsCPM Network or CPM Media Inc. The article from The Age doesn't actually say that. It just says that these two companies also do pop-ups that do bad things. I don't know if I trust The Age all that much since they call him a Spam man in the title and then don't indicate that he actually had anything to do with spam either. I'm not saying the guy is clean, I'm just wondering if he is really dirty or not.

If he really is involved in those companies, The Age should have done a better job writing their article.

Posted by: kalbzayn at February 17, 2006 3:44 PM

Kalbzayn, Begg-Smith is identified as president of AdsCPM in this Nov. 2002 press release from a fellow adware company, ValueAd.com:


Posted by: Brian at February 17, 2006 4:13 PM

Thanks for the link. I wish the article would have stated that a little more clearly. I'll have to update something I wrote earlier today to include that.

Posted by: kalbzayn at February 17, 2006 6:58 PM

Dear Australia,

No returns after 14 days have passed. ;-)


Posted by: Eugene at February 18, 2006 1:58 AM

Yes, like most of you I hate spam and popups etc. However, if you want to cry foul becuase Dale has taken advantage of weekness's in desktop operating systems, then maybe we should be pissed at Mr Gates allowing US TO BETA test his Windoz Operating system (and pay HIM for it). If anyone should be shot and hung, point your finger at Bill. Dale got Gold becuase he was the best in the World on the day, those of you that are miserable with your lives should get a life.

Posted by: Hamish at February 18, 2006 11:21 AM

Hamish: Your comment is just plain idiotic.
Yes, the OS is vulnerable. That doesn't mean
exploiting the vulnerabilities is any more
legal. By your logic, if someone broke in to
your car and stole it, you should solely blame
the car manufacturer? If someone cut your
lock and stole your stuff in the locker, you
point fingers at the lock manufacturer? That's
simply "moronic" thinking.

Personnaly, I'm sick and tired of people like
you who just fashionably and conveniently blame
everything on Microsoft and Mr. Gates. Don't
get me wrong, I'm far from being a MS fan. But it's just not fair and illogical to just blame it
on the OS and not the perpetrator of the crime

Posted by: Hamish at February 18, 2006 1:39 PM

Spam isn't the only thing Begg-Smith is under investigation for. He also is associated with a missing vancouver woman.

Posted by: at February 18, 2006 2:35 PM

The Age and SMHerald journalist have a good job in opening this *extraordinaire athlete-businessman*... But their resourses are limited and time is of the essense. One journalist is a sports journalist so he is focused on the sports and in particular Australian contributions to the Torino Olympics. The other journalist is a tech writer and doesn't sit all day in Geek forums trying to find information how to fix a hijacked computer like I had to do for several individuals in the financial industry.

Their exposure has given everyone a chance to contribute. Stephen Hutcheon from the SMH has given good exposure to all you who have some tangental coming with our highly secretive super scumbag in todays blog article from the SMH.


Posted by: Brudder Andrusha at February 19, 2006 3:26 PM

Listen Jerks i happen to know dale personaly and this is all a bunch of Bs. Maybee if you computer nerds were actually athlectic and good at something so would stop sulking and get over it

Posted by: fred mooney at February 19, 2006 8:17 PM

I Agree with fred,

Who cares how this guy got to be how good he is (bar drug use) and what monetary avenues he took... when it comes down to it, He won gold, he beat the rest of the world... let's see you chumps do it?!?!?!

Posted by: Glenn at February 19, 2006 11:16 PM

Everyone cares how he got there. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Posted by: Eliot at February 20, 2006 5:32 AM

You wanna know how he got there?.............
through hard work, training, and dedication. Money dosnt make you good at something, and most likley his sponsers were the ones funding him.

Posted by: kevin at February 20, 2006 9:47 AM

Real surpising is some of the folks out there support Moghul-extraordinaire!

If Begg-Smith was so proud of his business acumen, why wouldn't he even name his company in the interviews after his wonderful athletic performance.

Oh, Right! Hard work, training and dedication!

Ok. Now I hope someone gives him a court order to appear to answer the case of personal invasion and damages due to downtime of computer hardware. Lets see how dedicated he is to paying for his past business decisions.

As to athletes not knowing where the Registry Editor is - Try again.

Posted by: at February 20, 2006 12:03 PM

I agree that really, it doesn't matter what shady things he may have done in the past, he really won fair and square.

He didn't distract the other medal hopefuls with popups as they were competing. It was skill.

Posted by: Graeme at February 20, 2006 12:04 PM

who cares about all this computer spyware shit all I hear is blah blah blah. If God skied he would want to ski like this kid!!!

Posted by: otto at February 20, 2006 1:23 PM

Hey Eugene,
The product was Ded on Arrival. Please accept the return.

Posted by: James Bond at February 21, 2006 4:41 PM

If he'd finished 7th nobody would even remember his name in a week, and the only people mentioning his internet businesses would be sites like this one.

But he won gold, so suddenly his businesses are important? What a joke. Where's the relationship between the purpose of his internet businesses and his athletic ability?

I don't care if he goes back to Canada, stays in Australia, winds up his businesses, starts some new ones, crashes his Lambo, buys a Ferrari, or marries Alisa Camplin. He's just a bloke who makes things happen for himself. If he puts money before ethics, the only person who has to live with that is him. Perhaps if you whingers stopped whinging about other people, you'd make things happen in your sad little lives too

Posted by: martium at February 21, 2006 5:12 PM

i dont like you

Posted by: at February 22, 2006 5:51 PM

hey fred mooney, funny that someone is an athlete and *poof* all their bad behaviour never exsisted. Take your celebrity worshiping elsewhere pleeeease!

Posted by: gord pattermonkey at February 22, 2006 8:37 PM

you all are fools dale is the man and you all wish you were him

Posted by: josh at February 24, 2006 11:19 AM

Now he gets to carry the flag in the closing ceremony.

Someone wants to put him on a stamp.

The Oz media is pathetic, this guy should have been outed in no uncertain way.

Posted by: sgc at February 25, 2006 9:21 PM

Has he been convicted of anything ??

If not, then he is not guilty !!!

If so, is it against the Olympic charter ??

Posted by: the.griss at February 26, 2006 6:30 PM

"you all are fools dale is the man and you all wish you were him"

No, I don't wish I was a person running a business built on installing spyware that destroys harddisks, changes the internet from an enjoyable luxury to something more frustrating than informative and useful. Generally speaking, I would rather chew on glass than be like that.

Posted by: Eik C at February 28, 2006 8:56 AM

So, everyone wants to lock up one of the world's best skiers because his business does something you don't like? At least he pays for his own training.

What his company does is unsavoury, but so are people who own gunshops (guns are used to actually kill people, remember?) cigarette manufacturers, porn vendors, etc.

I would venture to suggest that all of the holier-than-thou claptrap you're sprouting would evaporate if you could swap places with him and earn $8 million a year, yourselves?

It's easy to be hypocritical when you're anonymous.

The guy set up his business when he was 13, and made a huge success of it. It allowed him to do what we all aim to do... retire while young and earn well.

I hate spam, I hate popups, I hate adware, but it's my responsibility to protect my property from others. It could be argued that the Begg-Smiths of this world face companies like Microsoft to properly develop their software product.

Posted by: Tree Hugger at March 2, 2006 3:01 AM

Great work Brian!

AND, for all you folks who think this issue is closed we have 2 brand NEW AU articles about the Spyware King at:



Posted by: Joseph Lynch at March 3, 2006 12:33 PM

Joseph, thanks for the tip about those new articles. Please see my follow up post about Andrew Forin, who's quoted in the articles, defending Begg-Smith.

Posted by: Brian at March 3, 2006 1:45 PM

The ends do not justify the means.

The problem with many people these days is that there is a dearth of ethics, scruples, integrity , & character. ME FIRST!! ME!!! ME!!! ME!!! NOW!!! NOW!!! NOW!!!

So.....if I sold drugs, robbed a bank, and/or pimped my neighbor's daughter to allow me access to $$$$$ & time to train to win a gold medal then it would be ok??? Just because I was smart enough & resourceful enough to get away with it???

Grow up, you idiots that worship scum.

Posted by: Begg-Smith is a dweeb at March 4, 2006 4:59 AM


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