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.

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Comments on “Spammer Alan Ralsky Finally Indicted”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

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.)?

curious observer says:

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

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: 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:

uk don (user link) says:

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


Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: Reading assignment

So “I talked to him online and he’s a cool guy” makes it all better?

Get some facts – Read “Spam Kings: The Real Story behind the High-Rolling Hucksters Pushing Porn, Pills, and %*@)# Enlargements” by Brian S. McWilliams”.

Then perhaps your opinion might be worth something here.

Droewyn says:

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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