Proud, Bragging Spammer Alan Ralsky Pleads Guilty

from the about-time dept

Remember Alan Ralsky? He was the super proud spammer that way back in 2002 gave a defiant and proud interview with his hometown paper, the Detroit Free Press, where he showed off his home and other expensive purchases, all paid for with spam -- which he insisted was "the greatest business model in the world." So what happened? Well, the folks at Slashdot used the info in the article to figure out where he lived and started signing him up for a ton of snail mail marketing offers, overwhelming his actual mailbox. Rather than recognizing the irony, Ralsky flipped out. Apparently, it's only the greatest business model in the world when you're not on the receiving end.

It definitely took a while, but the law finally caught up to Ralsky, and he learned that "the greatest business model in the world" is actually called fraud -- and it can put you in jail. The FBI started investigating Ralsky in 2005, but he wasn't actually indicted until 2008. And, the latest news is that he's agreed to plead guilty and could face both jailtime and fines for wire fraud, money laundering and violations of the CAN SPAM Act (wow, it does sometimes work!). Of course, since Ralsky's time, spammers have gone underground and overseas. The era of the great proud American spammer who courted the press seems to be over.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    Actually, stuff like this is proof that the rule of law actually works, and can change people's perceptions about things.

    10-15 years ago, spam was it. Everyone spammed. Every company, every individual, every fool. People would get AOL accounts just to go in and get lists of names to spam. It was hilarious - and evil.

    The only spam you get now comes from botnets and offshore accounts, and they tend not to last long, they are involved in an insanely fast paced game of whack-a-mole.

    The funny part? It looks like file traders / torrents will end up in the same few countries that still harbor spammers. What a nice collection of undesirables all in the same places.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    trilobug, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:41pm

    [@ AC}]

    Hey, Australia wasn't built in a day. :p

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:52pm

    Re:

    tee-hee It took a while! :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:38pm

    Re:

    Dont forget Canada, otherwise they might start demanding some of that Internet Money

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:55pm

    So basically

    He was proud of pure and utter failure? Because I've never, ever, EVER seen any spam that could get me to look based on the email address and title.

    He was totally and undeniably incompetent at what he bragged about, and if anyone with his same resources to be "the spam king" would have done a better job getting spam through filters and people to actually look at it. Even a monkey could have bone better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:36pm

    Re:

    I'm not sure how you can compare spam and p2p. They're completely different.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:50pm

    Re: Re:

    They have one thing in common: The purveyors are all trying to hide out in the same countries with the same lax laws. Basically, spam was "okay" a long time ago, it is no longer okay, and the people left doing it are having to use extraordinary means to do it. It's sort of like the whole napster to torrent thing. A whole bunch of technology just to try to dance around the laws and make the players harder to identify.

    In the end, it's done like the for a reason, and it isn't about just being sneaky!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Lonzo5 (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 9:28pm

    Spam/Junk Mail

    Hey,

    I can kinda understand spam and junk e-mail, but why are unsolicited circular ads and retarded credit offers at all legal? The amount of paper/energy wasted in this manner must be astronomical. Not thinking very green, if you ask me. And the fact that my address is being bought and sold between companies with which I've had no contact? A shady business model to say the least. There should be an all-inclusive "do-not-mail list," similar to what they've enacted for telemarketers. I have signed up for one of those mail preference services, but I still feel you should be able to opt out completely. It's a waste of paper and space. I'm glad that guy's getting his, though-- spam is the absolute bane of modern civilization.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 12:23am

    Re: Spam/Junk Mail

    On this topic... I have AT&T home DSL service, but I do not pay for their uVerse TV service. Because they assume that I must have TV therefore must be paying for cable, I am receiving MASSIVE mailers at least twice a week about the service. Seriously, one of them was a 30 page full color firm cover MAGAZINE, and all it really said was 'we offer TV'.

    I'm disgusted by the cost and waste of marketing this service to me based on one premise, that I must be getting TV from someone. I'm not, and have never had any TV at this address.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 4:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Still not following. You're comparing fraud, which is illegal, with file sharing, which is not illegal. Only some of the content that is being shared is illegal, and that is not the fault or responsibility of the tool, p2p. It's fun watching these strawmen burn.

    And, by the way, it takes an enormous troll to take a post pointing out a bit of good news and turn it around into a totally unrelated topic just so they can whine about something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, check again. spam isn't always fraud (there is often a product to be purchases at the end), but that the sending of spam has become less and less tolerated over time (legally and socially). Effectively, there is almost no way to legally spam in the US anymore, and most of the western world in one form or another.

    File sharing? Hmm. Open a torrent site in the US filled with "infringing" material, and see exactly how long you last. You will be buried under so much paper it will take you a week just to see the sun again.

    So what happens? File sharing and spam end up in the few remaining places that don't show respect for others rights. Spam is a violation of my personal space, file trading is a violation of copyright laws in most every country. So the birds of a feather flock together, hiding in offshore spaces and hoping nobody knocks them off.

    Serious, after TPB loses and has to move out of thier current location, where do you think they will go? I suspect hosting in China or maybe North Korea.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Glenn, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    Money laundering, wire fraud, etc.

    It's the other stuff that got him in trouble. "Spam" is still legal. As far as spamming goes, it's not what you do, it's how you do it. As far as CAN SPAM goes, if you follow the simple rules it lays out, then you "can spam" all you want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    "10-15 years ago, spam was it. Everyone spammed. Every company, every individual, every fool."

    Um, what the FUCK are you talking about?

    "He was proud of pure and utter failure? Because I've never, ever, EVER seen any spam that could get me to look based on the email address and title.

    He was totally and undeniably incompetent at what he bragged about, and if anyone with his same resources to be "the spam king" would have done a better job getting spam through filters and people to actually look at it. Even a monkey could have bone better."

    Ummmm... obviously he was not an utter failure. SPAM relies on small percentages of complete morons who wind up falling for the bullshit. That's why they send out millions (billions?) of emails to get the small percentage.

    And a gigantic fucking LOL at that dumbass. Got what he deserved. I say again: LOL

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 5:15pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's sort of like the whole napster to torrent thing. A whole bunch of technology just to try to dance around the laws and make the players harder to identify.

    A statement like that reflects a great ignorance about the two and the technical differences between them. A willingness to makes such statements in public while knowing so little about the subject shows even greater ignorance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 5:19pm

    Re: Money laundering, wire fraud, etc.

    As far as CAN SPAM goes, if you follow the simple rules it lays out, then you "can spam" all you want.

    Yep. He just wasn't doing it right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Re: Money laundering, wire fraud, etc.

    Actually, Can-Spam pretty much makes it impossible to spam.

    You can have direct email contact with past and present customers or opted in customers, or you can email anyone exactly once. You cannot build a spam business by mailing people once.

    Spam requires a truly unrelenting torrent of mail, millions of emails every hour of every day, repeating to the same addresses over and over again. The returns are small, but functional - but that type of mailing is no longer legal in the US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    lamer, Aug 15th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re: So basically

    Look at my name, that is what you are

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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