Spam King Rumored To Be In Jail As Spam Underworld Worries…

from the so-they-say dept

Alan Ralsky, the well known “spam king” who proudly bragged about his spamming escapades to a newspaper reporter… and then got all upset when people who read the article started signing his home address up for junk mail, is apparently in trouble with the law again. Last fall, the FBI raided his house, and now Silicon Valley gossip blog, Valleywag, has an unconfirmed report from someone saying that Ralsky’s now in jail. The report also notes that the spamming underworld is freaking out on the rumor that he’s going to cough up some sort of plea bargain that involves ratting just about everyone out. It would be nice to see some sort of confirmation on the story one way or the other. Ralsky is definitely considered a big fish in the spamming pond (or should that be swamp?), so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this. Update: The story was unconfirmed for a reason. InfoWorld is now reporting that, as far as they can tell, it might not be true at all.

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Comments on “Spam King Rumored To Be In Jail As Spam Underworld Worries…”

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Ian Sefferman (user link) says:

Home in MI

Shortly after his address was made public to the world and I found out I lived no more than 5 miles away, I trekked out to this guy’s house. The closest I got was his porch, where my friend and I decided whether it was a good idea to ring the doorbell or not. We decided against it, ultimately. He’s got cameras, so he probably knew we were there anyways.

The house is big, it was dark through the windows (though the basement lights were on, supposedly where he keeps his office) and there was some moderately fancy car in the driveway IIRC.

Certainly, he made a lot of money and would probably be making a very smart career move to get away lightly if he makes a deal — he’s fairly old, right? Probably somewhere in the age range of retirement, I’d assume? Maybe this is his “easy” way out?

Interesting stuff, nonetheless.


P.S. We were there mid-afternoon on a weekday — usually when my mail arrives — but didn’t see a giant pile of mail anywhere or a separate truck coming. Just a regular, old mailbox. 🙁 We were really hoping to see how much he really received. 😉

Mike Mixer (profile) says:

Spam king

I really shudder to think just what can happen in this country. Somebody developes a way to make money and people just vilify him. What is it ?jealousy? I think so. The real ruth is spam is no worse than door to door religion and maybe better because you just delete it whereas religious drones at your door take real time away from you and make you itch for a shower afterwords to get the crap off. I really think

this whole campaign against spam is misguided and is releasing the government from it’s responsibility to protect us from real harm.

Sean (user link) says:

Re: Spam king

1) You’re right, he’s making money. We should applaud him. Then we’ll applaud the pick-pockets cause they’re making money. Then the thieves, the crooks, and the con-men. They all make money, and we should applaud them, not vilify them.

2) People coming to my door don’t cost me money. Spam cost me money because it cost my ISP money. It cost my ISP money because a good chunk of their bandwidth is being used to spread spam that no one wants, and bandwidth cost money.

3) I really don’t think you understand the spam’s impact on the Internet beyond your own inbox.

Luke the Duke says:

Re: Spam king

Pretty funny. “spam is no worse than door to door religion.” I can’t stop lauging.

I’m the system administrator for a small company, and a good part of my morning is spent going through the company’s spam filter. The messages are frightening. Bestiality, fraudulent schemes, penis enlargment ads…it’s like picking through a sewer.

Spammers are swine and they belong in prison.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Spam king

You are either a spammer or an idiot. Jealousy is not the issue. The issue here is people making money without ethics and integrity. How can you justify spamming adult contents to children as a viable way to make money? I shutter at the thoughts on what kind of modal you play for your kids, if you have any. At least with the religous visitors, you have the ability to kick them out the 1-2 times it occur during the year. Spammers, on the other hand, intentionally send unwanted contents and invade your privacy.

As for wasting government resources, if spams don’t exist, there won’t be any government resources to waste on!!!

lizard (user link) says:

the damage spam does goes so far beyond inbox clutter, lost productivity, and general offensiveness …

i had a server, once. spammer hijacked an insecure script and sent out millions of spams. server got blackisted, no one with accounts on it could send mail almost anywhere. getting off spam blacklists is nearly impossible; clients all found hosting elsewhere.

lost my fledgling hosting business, moved my own sites to a small hosting account. forgot to set one of the spammed-up domains to :fail: unroutable mail.

next time i went to upload something (three weeks later) the account was full. sixty seven thousand spams in the inbox, in three weeks.

it goes way beyond door to door religion. it’s a business defined by its total lack of ethics. all i can say is, i do hope he is in jail. on a related note, i hear fist can be a verb.

Shannon says:

Re: Re:

Yes, because he should get a harsher punishment than a child molester, serial killer, murderer, or drug king pin… Get real, recommending life in prison without PAROLE is retarded. They should confiscate everything he owns, and return him to the streets penniless. Let him get a job at McDonalds to make a living. I hear that they may be hiring since all the illegals didn’t show up to work today…

As an aside, unconfirmed reports of someone maybe possibly being in jail are not newsworthy.

mikstin says:

It’s no surprise that people will spam if they can make money at it. The real mystery is; how can they make money at it? Clearly there are lots and lots of chowder heads out there that RESPOND to spam.

THe solution is clear: we just need to find those idiots and kill them. Then the profits dry up and so does the spam.

Just a modest proposal.

Sean (user link) says:

Re: Re:

“Clearly there are lots and lots of chowder heads out there that RESPOND to spam.”

Unfortunately I think it’s people new to the net that respond to spam, and are the sole money makers. Most people who’ve used email for more than a few months know the scam, but people sitting down in front of the computer for the first time probably fall for it.

Maybe this stuff should be taught in school. A whole year of learning about spam, phishing, viruses… and we’ll even throw real world cons in there. Con-men have been using the same cons forever because people continue to fall for them. People need to be educated about this kind of stuff.

Sully says:

This is all very interesting but...

This guy found a vulnerability and exploited it. He should only be praised if he used his knowledge for the betterment of society. He didn’t do that. Hoping he rats out his collegues may be energy well spent. I’m, for once in my life, routing for the cops and the legal system. This man is a manipulative trickster and holds no “real” talent, only applied practice of “loophole jumping”.

I see my gmail account fill up, I moderate on lists where users complain about their “bigger dick” emails and I shudder while thinking how lame it is that we are perceiving this technology that we depend upon with such pedestrian choler. Spewing from an ignorant place and from a common lack of understanding of a complex situation really just distracts us from doing something to actually help this issue. However, I’m giggling over the thought of him eating all of his spam – Ironic humor is fun after all!

It’s funny also, how simple solutions can be to people who have no idea what the real problem is that they’re attempting to solve. I love the “intelligent sounding” posts that are mostly illiterate and uninformed. I invite the people reading this to ask questions for clarification for a change, ask for examples of how this REALLY affects their life, and ask for guidance on how to protect themsleves going forward. SPAM and phishing are tactics of theives who depend upon our ignorance. If we are collectively less ignorant, then it is probable that the spammers and phishers will be less successsful.

Michael Birnholz (user link) says:

Possible SPAM Solution

Hello all. I run a small ASP and must admit that at least 30% of my time is spent explaining to customers why the anti spam blockers do not work, and or why their own accounts are bombarded with spam, and on and on.

An idea (perhaps already stated). How about the FED sets up a national DO NOT EMAIL list, similar to the DO NOT CALL list. While it is far from perfect, the FED could pass a law that says any spammers that mail anyone on this list is fined some amount of money and or penalized appropriately.

An idea…

Government Inaction says:

Re: Possible SPAM Solution

“An idea…”

That’s already been quashed by the DOC, which is resisting calls by Congress and others to set up a “Do not email” list. They have a point, disposable email address/domains as well as the fact that spam comes from proxied email servers doesn’t stop the real criminal … the spammer … from continuing his/her practices.

jailthespammers says:

Naive Pro-spammers

Just a brief note to those in this discussion who say that spam does no harm: spam wastes resources and bandwidth; and much of it is adult content – I don’t appreciate it when this turns up in the mail-boxes of my children.

And if the spammers feel that what they are doing is not wrong and not illegal, then why do they attempt to hide?

It is also wrong to say that spam is anything like Junk Mail received through one’s letterbox – I receive almost no such mail, because in most cases there is a real opt-out clause. And if someone hawks his wares on my doorstep, I can politely ask them not to return. In fact I no longer receive visits from those Jehovah’s Witnesses since I discovered that you can request to be put on their “do not call list”.

The spammers owe their success, in the most part, to disceit and dishonesty – that is why they operate underground.

ascendant says:

We pay for service, then pay to see advertisements

I really think it’s ridiculous how commercialized everything is becoming. Most people pay an average, just to start, of about $70 a month on their cable bill. You pay this ridiculous amount to see about 50% commercials. Now, why do you pay to have to see commercials? If something is commercially funded, we should not have to pay an excessive fee on top of it as well.

As far as the internet spamming issue, I really don’t get it? Spamming doesn’t work, yet these companies just keep pushing it out there. If I receive spam from a company, it actually turns me off from a company and their products. How could they possibly think that spam is a way to increase revenue without doing more harm to their reputation than good?

In the long run, no matter how you look at it, spam could not possibly make a company more money than it will make them lose between advertising expenses and the negative feedback caused by the spamming. I just don’t understand how these companies aren’t getting that?

Devin (user link) says:

Get Blue Frog

There is a program called blue frog that is attempting to setup a do not email list. They’re having a decent amount of progress and it’s still in its infancy stages. Essentially what they do is setup a list of e-mail hashes and distribute a program to spammers that remove anyone from the list from their mailing lists. Their incentive to do this is everytime someone on the do not mail list gets mailed they email the contact address at the site that is being advertised in the spam. (Kind of annoying for the company yes?) If those events go ignored they email the ip block owner of the website and so it goes. I’d say check it out, if you use a popular webmail system (gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc) or most stand alone systems it’s not an annoyance at all.


*Note: Yes there is a referal address in this link, but there is absolutely no financial benefit in me doing it. It just keeps track in how many people you refer.

Okita Soji says:

Spam Works

I hate to be the one to say it, but….spam must work on some level. It takes time and effort to generate and distribute spam. And, while those of us reading these postings are probably far too educated on the top to pay any mind to spam, people MUST be generating some money from it somewhere, else it wouldn’t exist. Yes, this guy is a jackass. Should he be in prison for spam? As far as I know, the legality of spam hasn’t been well defined, and unless he committed fraudlent actions, most likely, he’ll walk. But better than a jail sentence for this guy would be simply tacking a nice little fine on for every spam he’s generated. What’s $0.10 times 245 million? Probably enough to be considered sufficiently punative.

NevoF says:

I love spam

I love spam because I use, with zero spam protection so I get emails tell me how I can have bigger breasts, bigger Penis, a *minus 4%* Mortgage, and download porn pics.

Wat could be more enjoyable than a larger penis, or a new “house over the internet”

Alan Ralsky should be shot in a slow and paniful and fatal manner. And have a celebration…

Then we shud get the other spammers and shoot their hands off so they will have a job typing the next spam mail

Dude says:

Vigilante Justice

The problem with the modern world is that there just isn’t enough vigilante justice anymore. The United States is a country where no matter how eeeeevil and unethical you are, and how much you break the law, exploit people, etc. in making gobs of money, you can ALWAYS (okay 99.9% of the time) use that money to buy your way out. O.J. the murderer, Limbaugh the drug lord, and so forth, they’re never punished, because they can afford not to be. So we, the masses, need to rise up and and ensure that justice is done. Get your torches and pitchforks! Who’s with me!??

Oh, Leno’s on? Okay after that. Oh you’ve got to get your Suburban serviced tomorrow? Well what about next week?

BigDogRMF says:

Re: Vigilante Justice

You’re right. Most people, esp. in SoCal think that the O.J. thing was a victory for a blacks over ‘The Man”. It wasn’t. It was just another rich scumbag vs. a financially-strapped D.A.’s office (plus the fact that the prosecutors were idiots… that didn’t help)…. the bigger trunk of money won, and that’s all. Period.

Amelia says:

The porn email is the absolute worst!

I am not easily shocked. However, nothing prepared me for some of those spam porno emails I used to get all the time! They started out as silly. Unclothed guys. The first few times I was laughing because it was so stupid as I quickly hit my delete button. Later on the images got more graphic.

The last straw (no pun intended) was when some idiot sent me a free trial membership to a porn site. The ‘enticement’ photo was one of, well, a man and his horse. I actually forwarded that email to my local FBI office. From that moment on, I set my email to only receive text messages and if I don’t recognize the sender, I delete the email instantly. Or I ‘read’ the code of the email by clicking on properties, details and then message source. I do this any time I get what might be a spoof email. Esp. Ebay/Paypal/banking type emails. If the links are bogus then I delete it without ever opening the email. If I’m not sure then I delete it anyways.

The other thing that I have done is created a message rule for the email that I get regularly for work and business. An Ebay email that comes directly from them codes as a specific color. The spam emails don’t get colored or flagged because the sender’s email doesn’t match my Outlook Express rule. That makes it easy to quickly just delete groups of bogus emails, and you don’t have to be a computer genius to figure out how to set up a system with the Outlook Express message rules.

Tin Ear (user link) says:

Oddly enough...

I don’t see the problem. I admit there is a problem, I just don’t seem to be affected by it. It’s a rare day when I get more than 6 or 7 pieces of spam a day. The reason for this is that I have my own domain’s email server with a severe set of filters that I have compiled over the last two year. On top of that, I am using Mozilla’s Thunderbird e-mail client, that I have also ‘trained’ to reject what might get through my server. I must admit, it has been months since I got an e-mail message that stayed in my inbox. All the rest of them go directly to my Trash. I check my e-mail two or three times a day and might get one, maybe two spam messages at most.

With this in mind, I can’t grasp getting 800 spam messages in one time… I fully endorse Thunderbird to anyone who wants to avoid all those messages.

Boomer says:

To All

Looking and reading this Hush-puppy Crumbcake BULLSH#t makes me laugh. Do ya know who I blame. The greedy bastard who sold you YOUR PC. He or they never cared to take the time to educate you on the hazzards.

Drive a car and look at the hazzards, but our instructors told us of these.

Do you people walk down dark alleys at night? NNNOOOOO

Do you walk up to the biggest guy in the bar and call his mama o whore? NNOOOOOO

There are hazzards among us no matter what we do. So simply educate yourselves and get a good antispam program…(NEWSFLASH) They are free through microsoft

PS Hangin is to good for this Bastard. But I would PAY for this porn. To see ole Alan share A cell With BuBBa !


Louis says:

Ralski kinda looks like a mobster. Coincidence?

Personally I don`t use spam filters or email screeners.I just don`t trust the filters themselves. I find the best thing (for me that is, people are welcome to their opinions right? Lest Boomer start going apeshit again) is to switch off active content in your email application, or use a good old fashioned text based email client like PINE, and screen all your emails yourself. Of course, if the amount of spam in your inbox becomes more than your actual mail, its time to throw out that account, and be more careful next time with whom you share your email address.

I have several email accounts and give the public webmail ones to sites I don`t trust. Work email for work, personal for personal, other for other. As with all things in life, safety first, trust later.

Ted Kaczynski says:

Re: Re:

What I’ve found as the ultimate “throw away” email account is You can generate a random account name for each place you reveal an email address. (i.e. I could generate a “techdirt” address within my account.) The username that’s generated is a completely random sequence of letters and #s (i.e. so if you start receiving email at that address from other than who you gave it to you know that they either sold (or “traded” it) or someone within that company got access to their user database astole it. In that case, you just turn off that address. No more spam.

More people should use sneakemail.

Louis says:

Re: Re: Re:

Re: by Ted Kaczynski on Apr 30th, 2006 @ 6:22pm

What I’ve found as the ultimate “throw away” email account is You can generate a random account name for each place you reveal an email address. (i.e. I could generate a “techdirt” address within my account.) The username that’s generated is a completely random sequence of letters and #s (i.e. so if you start receiving email at that address from other than who you gave it to you know that they either sold (or “traded” it) or someone within that company got access to their user database astole it. In that case, you just turn off that address. No more spam.

More people should use sneakemail.

Whatever you say Ted, just, uh, don`t hurt us.

Tyshaun says:

has anyone considered this...

Someone mentioned how scary spam topics can be (beasitiality, porn, etc). To me the more scary thing is that there is an audience large enough to support a site on beastiality AND the site feels secure enough to advertise. To me it’s akin to sending spam for kiddie porn, I wonder why more law enforcement activity isn’t occuring to get the sites shut down, making sure to advertise they were caught because the advertised using spam.

That would surely start to depreciate the pool of those willing to use spam to sell their illicite wares.

Another brilliant idea says:

Why not an e-stamp.

Why not have an e-stamp system. For instance person A sends and email to person B. A is charged 1c. Person B can accept the email by replying to it, or at least accept receipt of the email. Once this receipt is acknowledged, the 1c charge to person A is repealed.

This is many benefits:

1) people sending out millions of emails will be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars. So spammer’s profits are severely cut.

2) Since real money is involved, people will be actively looking at their computer’s bandwidth; ie zombies will be hunted down.

3) legitimate email lists will be forced to track their advertising, making it an opt-in instead of an opt-out, thus reducing their costs as well as total global bandwidth.

4) ultimately it does not have to be a real monetary cost. It could even be a ‘token’ system, where after x amount of tokens spent (and not replenished) from a server, that server is black listed, or only a single email is accepted per minute.

Joe says:

Better Laws vs. Smarter Users

New anti-spam laws may improve the situation, it won’t solve the problem. The United States, I believe, is currently the leading producer of spam in world but is not the only producer. Even if we hunted down every spammer in America, the spam wouldn’t stop. It would just move overseas. The only way to really solve the problem is through smarter filters and smarter users.

Joe Smith says:

The economics of murder

Spam is threatening the internet. At my office we have spam filters and still significant amounts of spam get throught to waste our time.

Spam depends in large measure on zombies which in turn depend by and large on the vulnerabilities in Windows.

Microsoft can spend $100 Billion making Windows secure and protecting a franchise worth hundreds of billions of dollars or they can pay the Mafia $1 Billion to hunt down and kill all of the spammers and virus writers.

Spam and viruses have cost Microsoft shareholders far more than any profit ever made by the spammers and virus writers. The economic efficiency of murder seems pretty compelling to me. Particularly since you would only have to kill a handful of people around the world to make a big dent in the problem.

The lives of the spammers and virus writers are not worth the billions of dollars they are costing the economy. If Microsoft felt guilty about such a practise they could rationalize it by taking some of the profit and dedicating it to saving lives in the third world so that there is a net saving of lives.

Heck, Microsoft does not even have to be directly involved. The Mafia could buy some call options and then simply ANNOUNCE that they are going to kill spammers and virus writers.


EZ says:

SPAM does suck!

Reading some reader’s comments makes me wonder what makes them authorities on the subject of spam.

I am a Network Engineer and spam isn’t some nuisance to simply be deleted and… end-of-story.

No, spam is a large technical problem on the back-end of all mail networks. It’s a big pain in the arse logistically, technically and socially.

This guy did not find a way to make money either. This guy found a way to hold people hostage, and craftily deceive them out of their time, money, and resources. He is nothing more than a socialogical virus!

Fat Man says:

The real problem....

Ok I agree that adult spam is very wrong. I have kids and I don’t want them to see that kind of crap because they happened to be standing behind me while I was checking my email. And, I agree spam is annoying. I have several emails for work or personal, and I spend allot of time clearing it out.

However, this guy Alan, he is not the problem. In fact he is probably the smaller problem. Lets consider numbers. This guy is supposed to email like 300 million people. ok. he cant do that ten times a day. Its just not possible. he is getting one, maybe two emails out a day. its the little spammers, which there are 1000’s of, that have small lists of like 10 million that they bought off some guy who stole them from what ever means. They send out more email ‘cause there list is shorter. they run there list in an hour and then run it again with the next ad, and they are doing this 24 hours a day. They are the main problem.

The fact is spam is not going to end, but if you had a few large guys that are allowed to send one or two emails a day, and then anyone who wants to advertise has to go through them, there would be less spam. it would be more like commercials on TV. The amount would be controlled.

Maybe I am an idiot, but I would rather receive 10 emails from controlled spammers, than 100 from all the little freaks that send me donkey sex pics, and tell me my wife has been talking all over town about how small my dick is. (not that she isn’t, but I don’t want to know about it)

Anyways, that’s my two cents. Not that anyone cares……..

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