‘Godfather of spam’ gets four years in prison

26 Nov 2009

High-profile US spammer Alan Ralsky, known as the “godfather of spam”, will be serving 51 months in prison under the CAN-SPAM Act for running a “pump-and-dump” email scam service as well as conspiring to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.

The scam, which conned people out of money by sending out mass emails for the purpose of illegal stock trading for US companies owned and controlled by people based in Hong Kong and China, involved six people in total, who were all sentenced under the act.

Spamming software

Ralsky’s involvement in the scheme was that he bought specialised spamming software, which he then used to send out millions of illegal spam e-mails.

Ralsky came to the attention of the US Department of Justice when Microsoft’s Internet Safety Enforcement Team handed over evidence it had collected on how Ralsky and his team had sent spam emails and used botnets to get his “pump and dump” scheme to work.

Collected evidence

“Microsoft turned the evidence over to the Department of Justice and supported the government’s three-year investigation, which was led by the FBI with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division,” said Tim Cranston, associate general counsel for Microsoft.

“Yesterday’s sentencing is a significant success and sends a clear message that the courts take this type of illegal conduct seriously.  Thanks to the diligent efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors, even the most successful and sophisticated spammers may find themselves behind bars for a very long time.”

By Marie Boran

Photo: Alan Ralsky has been sentenced to 51 months behind bars for his role in an email scam service.