Spammer Alan Ralsky Finally Indicted

from the and-not-just-for-spamming dept

If you've followed the spam world at all over the years, you know the name Alan Ralsky. He was considered a top spammer for many, many years, and was sued by Verizon at one point back in 2001. However, many in the tech world know him best for an incident in 2002. The Detroit Free Press did a story on Ralsky, where reporter Mike Wendland interviewed him, and had him show off "the house that spam built," an 8,000 square-foot house in a Detroit suburb. That story made its way to Slashdot -- where some commenters decided to publish the address of "the house that spam built," leading many, many, many Slashdotters to sign Ralsky up for all kinds of physical junk mail. Ralsky did not see the irony. Three years later, Ralsky's house was raided by the FBI during an investigation, but nothing more was heard about that case, until now. It took over two years, but Ralsky and a bunch of others have been indicted -- and the spam part should be the least of his concerns. The charges include: "conspiracy, fraud in connection with electronic mail, computer fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud." That's because Ralsky wasn't just spamming products for sale, he was using a botnet to run a pump-and-dump scam on Chinese penny stocks. It's unclear why it took over two years for the indictment to finally show up, but there are likely to be quite a few folks in the anti-spam community who are thrilled that something finally happened to Ralsky.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    identicon
    me, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    My guess would be, its because he broke the law here, but did it with over seas aquisitions. The justice department probally had to waid through a veritable rats maze of international law before finally being able to bring this one to court. Someone, somewhere definately put a lot of work into busting this guy.

     

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    Cutting a deal, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 10:45am

    Reduce your sentence

    My guess is the Feds cut a deal with him to reel in other spammers, fraudsters, and phishers. Most likely he's been cooperating with the Feds over the past two years in exchange for a reduced sentence. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more indictments coming out of this case.

     

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    LBD, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 11:03am

    Another will rise

    Sadly, it's a game of whack a mole.

     

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    DrSeussFreak, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 11:22am

    Brilliant!

    Finally!

     

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    James, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    HAHAHAHA!!

    I hope they burn him at the stake, stupid spammer.

     

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    Lucretious, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 12:32pm

    They probably wanted to take their time to build a solid case against him. The guy is simply a despicable human being who I hope gets at least 5-10 years in the fed.....and not one of the nice 'country club" ones.

     

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    Duane Nickull, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    hahahah too

    Die filthy spammer die!!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 2:52pm

    They didn't burn his house down?

    I'm surprised he didn't get a lot worse than 'junk mail he didn't sign up for' when the address of his house was published.

    But then 91.5% of all people in Detroit are scum so maybe they sympathize...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 3:05pm

    And?

    What do you all think the spam is going to stop now? I think not..

    Good they got him but it really makes no difference to the rest of us.

     

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    Whirler, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 3:18pm

    Big Deal

    Spending so much time and resources to bust him when he's just one grain of sand at the beach! Maybe the most notorious but one grain nonetheless. Glad they pinched him and I am surprised his home wasn't burned to the ground. The house that spam built, talk about ill gotten gains - what a pricksky!

     

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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 4:38pm

    Profits from ill-gotten goods?

    I'm not ordinarily a big fan of property seizure laws, but if he himself proclaims it as the "House That Spam Built", then shouldn't the police be able to seize it along with any other property related to spamming (i.e., computers, printers, vehicles used to go to the store to buy more computers, etc.)?

     

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      Lucretious, Jan 5th, 2008 @ 3:52am

      Re: Profits from ill-gotten goods?

      @ #11

      If LE can apply the RICO statutes in this case they can most certainly confiscate "The House that Spam built".

       

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    curious observer, Jan 6th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    Ralsky indictment

    Hello all you passionate antispammers. I believe in freedom of speech and legitimate spam under the new CAN-SPAM law. Advertisers should have to follow rules, and people should have access to a do-not-spam registry that will block all ad mail or just select kinds, etc. Just like junk mail to your house is legal, so is spam email under the new law. Small business does not have a lot of ways to level the playing field versus big business, but the Internet and email are equalizers. Probably there should be a funding mechanism of some kind to pay for bandwidth and so forth, so the advertiser pays say 2x the actual cost to send a message. since it's just bits, and ads are usually just a few characters, millions of emails would be very cheap to send. The infrastructure to disburse the money fairly is a whole system to be worked out, but I think it would be good for small business.

    I'm not sure exactly what Ralsky did, and if he used botnets to mail with, then that is bad. If he really did pump and dump stocks that is bad, but I'm skeptical about that one. From his prior interviews he seemed to be trying to be an advertising medium for small businesses. If that's true, then maybe he was just helping small compnies raise money selling stock. If you ever started a small company like I have, the HUGE expenses to simply sell stock to the public in the USA are absurd. It's a game totally favoring the already rich, and almost beyond the reach of regualr people. that is just plain wrong, there should be freedom of capitalism. The lawyers have set it up so you have to pay them ridiculous amounts.

    Well if Ralsky was doing a pump and dump scam, that is bad, but don't be so sure he really did that. He said he believes in freedom and helping the little guy advertise.

    curious observer

     

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      Wizard Prang, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

      Close but no cee-gar

      >> Just like junk mail to your house is legal, so is spam email under the new law.

      You seem to have a poor understanding of the CAN-SPAM act and/or the mind of a typical spammer.

      Legitimate bulk e-mail does not try to hide its origins and it has an unsubscribe link that works. Spammers do not want to be found (except to be paid) and their unsubscribe link - if it is there, and if it works - just serves to sign you up for more spam.

      I feel more strongly about this than many - perhaps that is because I recently had to abandon my ten-year-old e-mail address because it now gets fifty porn/viagra/nigerian/stock scamspams per day. One of the reasons I went to Gmail is that their spam filter is state-of-the-art.

      In any case, CAN-SPAM, like the anti-spyware bill, has done absolutely nothing to reduce the problem. It seems that the main purpose of this bill was to make a few people in Washington look like they were doing something useful... but that's just my opinion.

      There is no valid comparison between bulk mail and bulk e-mail - spammers do not have to bear their costs.

      More on CAN-SPAM here:
      http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm

       

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    Clorox, Jan 6th, 2008 @ 3:34pm

    RE: Curious Observer

    A big fat "meh" to if what he did was illegal or not. I just hate the guy for being a douche bag spammer...consider that my freedom of speech.

    /passionate antispammer

     

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    uk don, Jan 7th, 2008 @ 10:20am

    Alan Ralsky

    I personally talk to Mr Ralsky online, hes a cool guy - sound as f""k. Listen dudes, you guys & gals need to chill its only your email account, anyone would think hes 'feeling your kids up' Hes just a business man whos good at what he does - thats mailing. This indictment thing is lame hes completely innocent - its the anti's putting pressure on the Feds to bust him for something (feds are fags by the way).

    boring if you ask me, he'll be free soon

    cheers

     

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    Charles, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Only one spammer in jail

    The future is free about spammers???

     

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    Charles, Jan 15th, 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Only one spammer in jail

    The future is free about spammers???

     

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    Droewyn, May 16th, 2008 @ 9:23am

    I'm surprised he didn't get a lot worse than 'junk mail he didn't sign up for' when the address of his house was published.

    But then 91.5% of all people in Detroit are scum so maybe they sympathize...


    Wait... so when people *don't* burn someone's house down or otherwise involve themselves in illegal property damage, it's because they're "scum"?

    I don't know where you live, but I'll stay here with the scum. It sounds a lot safer.

     

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    Bubba Catts, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 12:35am

    Alan Ralsky

    It's sad that everyone is taking potshots at Alan without even knowing him. Alan is one of the most STANDUP GUYS anyone will ever meet!
    I pray to God he doesn't get any jail time !
    God Bless you Alan !

    Bubba...........

     

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