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Alan Ralsky

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Country: United States
State: Michigan
Convicted fraudster, spams using hijacked proxies & virus infected PCs and in the past by hijacking mail servers and mail accounts. One of the first people to host spam-websites in China to evade US law. Served years in prison due to stock-fraud spamming, but soon after being released, seemed to get right back into spamming.


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MEDIA: Mich. spammer, 10 others indicted in pump-and-dump scam


January 3, 2008
By DAVID ASHENFELTER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Michigan spam king Alan Ralsky , his son-in-law and nine others have been indicted in Detroit on charges of violating federal anti-spam laws, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced today.

The 41-count indictment said Ralsky, his son-in-law, Scott Bradley, 46, of West Bloomfield, and others used unsolicited e-mail to pump up the price of largely worthless stock in Chinese companies and sold the stock reaping huge profits and leaving Internet subscribers who purchased it holding the bag.

The operation also used illegal methods to maximize the amount of spam that could be sent while evading spam-blocking devices and tricked recipients into opening and acting on advertisements, prosecutors said. This included using false headers in email messages, using proxy computers to repay span, using falsely registered domain names to send spam and misrepresenting the advertising content of email messages, prosecutors said.

Ralsky's crew also tried to send spam using illegal botnets, a network of robot computes infected with malicious software that instructed the infected computers to send spam, the indictment said.

The most serious charges against Ralsky and the others, mail and wire fraud, carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The indictment also charged the group with violating federal spamming laws, money laundering and conspiracy.

Prosecutors described Ralsky, 52, of West Bloomfield, as one of the most prolific spammers in the nation. Until 2005, when federal agents raided his home and seized his computers, his operation sent tens of millions of unsolicited email messages daily to Internet subscribers, hawking everything from sexual enhancement drugs, weight loss products and worthless stock, the government said. In the summer of 2005 alone, prosecutors said, his operation generated $3 million.

"This is the greatest business in the world," Ralsky told Free Press columnist Mike Wendland in 2002, adding that spamming had made him a millionaire. "I'll never quit. I like what I do."

Ralsky was out of the country attending a funeral Thursday and unavailable for comment.

His lawyer, Philip Kushner of Cleveland, said: "There's a lot of people who are hostile to spam and I understand that, but it's a separate question about whether he's done anything illegal." Kushner said he was arranging with Ralsky to return to the U.S. to plead not guilty to the charges.

News of the indictment brought cheers from anti-spammers.

"The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office couldn't have given Internet users a better New Year's present," said Steve Linford, of the Spamhaus Project in London, England. "Ralsky was for many years the Number One spammer plaguing millions of Internet users with incessant and illegal spam. I am extremely pleased to see the end of his long career."

Others charged in the case were: Judy Devenow, 55 of Lansing; James Bragg, 39, of Queen Creek, Ariz.; Peter Severa, age unknown, of Russia, and How Wai John Hui, 40, of Vancouver, Canada and Hong Kong.

Several California residents were charged: John Brown, 47 of Poway; William Neil, 45 and Anki Neil, 36, both of Fresno; James Fite, 34, of Whittier, and Francis Tribble of Los Angeles.

Hiu was arrested at Kennedy Airport in New York on Wednesday. Prosecutors are arranging for him to be brought to Detroit to answer charges. U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy said Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg is arranging to have the other defendants surrender to authorities.

"Today's charges seek to knock out one of the largest spamming and fraud operations in the country," U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy III said in Detroit.

The three-year investigation was handled by the FBI, U.S. Postal Service and IRS Crimiminal Investigation.

Related URLs

  • Link to full story at The Detroit Free Press is 404
  • Link to reader comments at The Detroit Free Press
    Image
    (2002 photo DAVID P. GILKEY/Associated Press)


    Alan Ralsky sits at his desk in front of his computer screen that is showing over a hundred of the different servers he uses to deliver spam, unsolicited commercial e-mail.




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