Feeds

Ralsky jailed for four years over stock fraud spam scam

Godfather of spam sent down

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Notorious spammer Alan Ralsky has been jailed for more than four years over his role in a masterminding a stock fraud spam campaign that made him an estimated $2.7m.

Ralsky, 64, from West Bloomfield, near Detroit, Michigan, was sentenced to 51 months while his son-in-law, Scott Bradley, 48, was imprisoned for 40 months over the same pump and dump stock fraud conspiracy involving thinly-traded stocks.

Each pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and violations of the CAN-SPAM Act. Two other co-conspirators, who also confessed their involvement in the scam, were sentenced on Monday. Five others face a sentencing hearing later on Tuesday.

How Wai John Hui, 51, a resident in both Hong Kong and Canada, was sentenced to 51 months imprisonment. How also agreed to forfeit $500K in ill-gotten gains. Ralsky and Bradley were each ordered to forfeit $250K that the US seized in December 2007 during a sentencing hearing at a Michigan Court on Monday.

John Bown, 45, of Fresno, California, was jailed for 32 months over his role in the scheme and ordered to pay back $120K in criminal profits.

The conspirators used spam email pushed out via a botnet network of compromised machines to promote interest in fringe stocks (US firms owned and controlled by individuals in Hong Kong and China) between January 2004 and September 2005. The tactic was designed to cause a brief spike in the price of these stocks. The conspirators bought shares in the stocks which they then sold at the peak of artificially inflated interest before the inevitable crash and burn.

The charges stem from a three-year investigation, led by the FBI with assistance from the US Postal Inspection Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Prosecutors expressed satisfaction with the first successful prosecutions from the case, which they hope will have a deterrent effect on other would-be spammers.

"With today's sentence of the self-proclaimed 'Godfather of Spam,' Alan Ralsky, and three others who played central roles in a complicated stock spam pump and dump scheme, the Court has made it clear that advancing fraud through abuse of the Internet will lead to several years in prison," said US Attorney Terrence Berg for the Eastern District of Michigan.

A US DoJ statement on the case, which provides further background information on the prosecution, can be found here. Samples of the spam sent by Ralsky and his cohorts can be found in a blog posting by Sophos here.

Ralsky is a recidivist fraudster and unrepentant spammer whose long career in polluting the internet with crap is documented by Spamhaus here. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.