Godfather of Spam gets 51 months in prison

By Justin Mann on November 24, 2009, 12:58 PM
The penalties for being a spammer are no joke these days. Sanford Wallace, often referred to as the "Spam King", is experiencing this firsthand, as he deals with a $711 million judgment against him for spamming Facebook. Now, another legendary spammer is also facing a steep penalty for his spamming ways. Alan Ralsky, called the "Godfather of Spam", will be paying for his crimes in a jail cell, serving 51 months in prison for his career in sending mass amounts of junk email.

Ralsky has spammed the world for more than 12 years and has been responsible for many of the common scams we see today. One of the frauds that helped him earn his jail sentence was a "pump-and-dump" stock scheme, in which Ralsky purchased mass amounts of stock and then sent millions of spam emails urging other people to do the same. As people took the bait, Ralsky would cash in on the stock. This ended up costing him in the end, as he wasn't just tried under the CAN-SPAM Act, but was also indicted for money laundering and a host of other crimes.

Spam has been a widespread issue of the Internet since nearly the beginning. As the costs associated with it have risen and the amount of spam itself has grown to ridiculous proportions, people have banded together to fight the problem. Security companies and law enforcement have often worked together to combat the issue, resulting in people being fined and server farms being destroyed.

Still, the problem remains. This latest prison sentence may do little to curb spam in the short term, but it will serve as a reminder that at least someone is working on an issue that may seem impossible to fix.




User Comments: 44

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fref said:

I guess that's good news, but as the article says, this probably won't make much of a difference in the end. It's unbelievable that there is still no real solution for spam.

swilllx2p said:

I would bet that this guy will more than likely not be spamming anymore. In my opinion jail sentences are what is really needed if they really want to put some sort of an end to the spam problem. If people keep getting harsh jail sentences it may scare a lot of others away from doing it.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Its nice yo see action being taken against some of the bigger spammers out there but as long as people have email accounts there wil be someone new to step up to the plate. Using a good filter for your inbox is the best way of preventing such a problem, gmail does a good job IMO. It would be nice if people who do this could just stop, but the same goes for people who make viruses and any other destructive tools used to cripple a computer. It would be like a world without war... and thats not happening soon either.

paynetrain007 said:

I think the best way to stop spam is to educate people about giving out their email. In most cases spam is sent to those who sign up for everything under the rainbow. I personally use an alternative email to sign up for most things.

kuyper said:

Not everyone has the luxury, but I use a single email address per website - even my friends are each given a custom email address - this gives me ultimate control over received mail. If an address is even compromised, I have to contact just the "owner" of that email address, give them a new one and /dev/null anything sent to the old addy.

Works for me.

That said, I also filter all my email via Gmail and with their huge collection of mail, they're awesome at identifying spam and most regular "junk" never even makes it to my inbox.

It's a shame we have to jump through all those hoops.

I hope they feed this scumbag nothing but spam for the rest of his sentence

lupinnktp said:

Another one bites the dust. Well, this is good news, even though i believe spammers are like mushrooms, you pluck 1, another will juz pop up to take the place.

matchu said:

I totally agree with @paynetrain007 on this one. I only give out my email to friends/family and to reputable organizations. And I use a spare address for sites that i plan on using transiently or don't trust. Haha.

strategic strategic, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Awesome!

It's great to hear that these guys actually get punished.

Let's face it, it isn't rocket science to figure out where all this spam originates.

Now all the wannabes will think twice before spamming others...

pbartman said:

Unfortunately it won't make much a difference but at they're hacking away at the spammers. I block 99% of the mail coming into my system. Think of the traffic all that spam generates, I'm only 1 mail system blocking thousands of emails a day.,

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My gmail accounts blocks over 99% of spam - I rarely get any in my actual inbox. So as long as google, yahoo, M$, etc. stay ahead of the spammers, I don't really see the problem. Unless of course you go into the spam folder and click on an interesting link

LightHeart said:

It's good to see the legal system working however as several have stated it won't make that much of a difference in the amount of spam. Who buys things from spam emails anyways, I've never figured that one out. If spam gets through the email filter, just delete them.

BlindObject said:

Ugh, I hate spammers. Good thing gmail is awesome at keeping them away. He deserves what he got. Lol they should make him eat a can of spam for every million he caused.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Amazing example made out of the spam king!

Hope they learn.

Deso said:

Sure I don't like spammers but 41 months seams a bit extreme for just spamming....

This could pave the way for more internet crime laws and punishments

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@ Deso: This isn't just spamming though, the guy was trying to manipulate the price of stocks which he owned. Which is a pretty severe crime in the financial world

schallie said:

It is a good way of making an example, but that doesn't mean the fight is over. I get a lot of spam in my mailbox and it is really starting to annoy me. :S

Deso said:

@ Deso: This isn't just spamming though, the guy was trying to manipulate the price of stocks which he owned. Which is a pretty severe crime in the financial world

Oh the atricle didn't mention that > . >

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

As others have mentioned, this won't do much to stop spam. But what the heck - I'll take it! Slap these fools away and throw away the key. Can you imagine the speed of the Internet without being clogged up by all those worthless e-mails being sent out by the billions?

FrankTank said:

It's so true that spam has gotten too out of control. Especially for those of us who use free services like gmail, hotmail, etc. I can't wait for the day to check my email and not have to delete a handful or so of junk.

But every once in a while I will get one that will make me laugh.... like that time my distant cousin was an Arabian prince and left me 5 million dollars. I never heard back from that guy..huh

Guest said:

Deso hit on the key point. Spamming was not the only crime here. Manipulating stock prices was the offense he got really slapped with.

51months is a bit excessive though. I'd settle for 24 months, and for bankrupting him by taking every single penny from him. We can use that money to help fund the next generation of people combating these scum bags.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

Considering that with good behavior he will have far less time im thinking 10-20 years would have been better because his victims were world-wide.

Deso said:

Guest said:

Deso hit on the key point. Spamming was not the only crime here. Manipulating stock prices was the offense he got really slapped with.

51months is a bit excessive though. I'd settle for 24 months, and for bankrupting him by taking every single penny from him. We can use that money to help fund the next generation of people combating these scum bags.

Thank you for noticing !!

I still wonder tho who would buy stock based on information in random e-mails they get?

Anyone who would do that is a lunatic.

Fragrant Coit Fragrant Coit said:

The scariest aspect to me is that there must be people who respond to, or purchase from Spam. If people were more careful, then there'd be no Spam.

mit2591 said:

Well it's in human nature not to be satisfied with what they have and wanting more and more.The guys who bought stocks may thought in such a way like"What's bad with spending couple of thousand dollar buying stocks when i am buying them legitimately.May be i should just take a chance and see what happens" AND the fish is in the trap.

Morale of the story-"Never Believe in "Easy money" or "take a chance".Money does not come easy.You need to work hard for that.

Deso said:

btw @ slh28 and @Guest

It's 2 sepearate people if you didn't get that from my "it's not in the article joke" as one of them was doing the stock stuff and the other did the other stuff.. both of you seam to think they are the 2, is the same person

GACrabill said:

The guy in jail deserves it. The guy with the $711 million fine is not in jail and will probably appeal the judgement for many more years while he continues to make more money spamming. That's what's wrong with monetary fines, they usually don't get paid. He should have gotten a jail term also and been held in jail until the $711 million fine is paid. The guy knew that he was sending spam illegally. Take his illegal profits AND require mandatory jail time .... otherwise there's not much risk for all of the other folks sending spam 'cause they can't catch them all and if they do, you only lose some money.

Pink said:

i feel sorry for the guy, but maybe this'll help cutting back on spam...

i hate it when i check my mail, waiting for a really important message, i see 9 new mails, and all of them are about Viagra or some Nigerian dude wanting to send me lots of cash...

saintbodhisatva said:

Spamming per se isn't heinously evil just annoying IMO, Scamming on the other hand... thats another thing

Razerblade said:

well thats one less person we have to worry about for spam! But Who's going to notice. My company gets hit with atleast 10000 spam emails everyday!

Styl said:

Good riddance! Not going to bring down Spam levels, though, which sucks.

yangly18 yangly18 said:

OWNED

these spammers def got what they deserve, about time people got more than a ban for their stupidity.

yorro said:

If there are people that eat spam, there will always be spam, just like poachers and the people who buy ivory/animal coats. The cycle never ends.

JMMD JMMD, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Every little bit counts but this will do nothing to stop the flow of spam. As long as someone can make money from it it will never stop.

Docnoq said:

Wait a minute, he was indicted for money laundering on top of the spam charges and all the other charges, but he only received 51 months in prison? How could he possibly get off with such little jail time? Sanford Wallace gets fined $711 million, and this guy gets off the hook with 51 months of jail. Odd.

yangly18 yangly18 said:

yes, that is odd, I don't think 4 1/2 years adds up to 711mill huh. personally I would serve the jail time....

levar said:

I never thought spam could get this bad, I know he did a host of other crimes but still, I actually know a few people that was tricked into this "pump-and-dump" stock scheme didn't knew thats what they called it, oh man he lost some cash.

mentholo said:

If I should believe in easy money,

does that mean that I should stop

betting at the lottery?

or betting once in a while in

races or sometimes casino?

Fada said:

good riddance to bad rubbish, although i completley disagree with the judges judgment.

manintech said:

This is good news, but there are still millions of spammers out there...

lfg18 said:

Well at least we are improving, I really hate to open my inbox and find more spam that real mails, I know it is going to be very dificult to finish with spamers but one at a time we are getting closer

lfg18 said:

Well at least we are improving, I really hate to open my inbox and find more spam that real mails, I know it is going to be very dificult to finish with spamers but one at a time we are getting closer

insect said:

51 months doesn't seem like enough to me, considering he could have potentially taken several thousands of dollars from people, albeit those people should have known it was spam.

I also would like to imagine how much cheaper and faster my internet could be if ISPs didn't have to shuttle around trillions of items of spam.

mopar man mopar man, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

Hmmm.... they are right in that it probably won't help much, but it will undoubtedly help a TINY bit...

jerry53 said:

yeah punish these people these people are the ****** who waste a ton of bandwidth not available to all and also the drop in productivity and the waste in time when people delete them or view them.

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