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Alan Ralsky

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Alan Ralsky Index

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: Leading Internet spammer indicted

10 others also facing federal charges

January 4, 2008

International spam king Alan Ralsky has been indicted in Detroit on charges of violating federal anti-spam laws, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

The 41-count indictment said Ralsky, 62, of West Bloomfield; his son-in-law, Scott Bradley, 46, also of West Bloomfield, and nine other people used unsolicited e-mail to pump up the price of penny stock in Chinese companies to artificially high prices and then sold it, reaping huge profits for themselves and leaving Internet subscribers who purchased it holding the bag.

Prosecutors described Ralsky as one of the most prolific spammers in the nation.

His operation 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.

Tactics included false headers in e-mail messages; proxy computers to disguise the source of spam; falsely registered domain names to send spam, and misrepresenting the advertising content of e-mail messages, prosecutors said.

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

The most serious charges against Ralsky and several of the defendants -- 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.

Until 2005, when federal agents raided his 8,000-square-foot home and seized his computers, Ralsky's operation sent tens of millions of unsolicited e-mail messages daily to Internet subscribers, hawking everything from sexual enhancement drugs and weight-loss products to get-rich-quick schemes, the government said.

Prosecutors said the activities in the indictment occurred between January 2004 and September 2005.

"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."

A federal anti-spam law that took effect in 2004 allowed agents to pursue Ralsky. He was out of the country attending a funeral Thursday and unavailable for comment, said his lawyer, Philip Kushner.

"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 said he was arranging for Ralsky to return to the United States to plead not guilty to the charges.

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. "Ralsky was for many years the No. 1 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 are: 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 are charged: John Bown, 47, of Poway; William Neil, 45, and Anki Neil, 36, both of Fresno; James Fite, 34, of Whittier, and Francis Tribble of Los Angeles.

Three of the 11 people charged have been arrested.

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Link to full story at The Detroit Free Press is 404

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