Spammers: Alan Ralsky

By Shiloh Pettyjohn in History, Spam Messages on

Continuing my Who are the Biggest Spammers series:

Mr. Alan Ralsky’s organization, based in Michigan since 1997, uses Chinese, European and US-based servers to host and send spam to millions of email boxes daily. He apparently began his spamming career when his licenses to sell insurance were revoked in Michigan and Illinois in 1996.

He personally (well, his company) sends millions of unsolicited email messages selling everything from diet pills to online gambling. He claims that his business is legitimate and that his emails are not spam.

Unlike most spammers, he has provided interviews to various newspapers, although he claimed to be a commercial e-mailer rather than a spammer. He stated that his was a legitimate business which complied with all laws.

He gained much of his notoriety following a December 2002 interview with The Detroit News. The article was soon posted to Slashdot and the address of his newly built home was posted to Slashdot not long after that. Hundreds of Slashdot readers then searched the Internet for advertising mailing lists and free catalogs and signed him up for them. As a result, he was inundated with junk mail. In a Detroit Free Press article on December 6, 2002, he is quoted as saying “They’ve signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is … These people are out of their minds. They’re harassing me”.

Another fun tidbit – Not only does Ralsky operate as a spammer, but he also provides hosting services to other spammers.

Alan Ralsky legal history:

In January 2008, Ralsky and ten others were indicted based on results of a three-year investigation. The indictment included stock fraud charges stemming from a “pump and dump” scheme. Ralsky was arraigned on the charges but was silent during the arraignment, so a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.

In early October 2005, a warrant was unsealed, showing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided Alan Ralsky’s home in September. In the raid, the FBI took computers, financial records, and even The Detroit News article cited earlier.

In 2002, Verizon sued Mr. Ralsky for causing their network to freeze twice. The lawsuit originally sought $37 million, but was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Ralsky is no longer allowed to send email over Verizon’s networks, but admits no wrongdoing in the case and has vowed to continue sending bulk email.

In 1994, Mr. Ralsky was convicted for falsifying documents to defraud two banks in Michigan and Ohio and was fined $74,000.

In 1992, Ralsky was sentenced to 50 days in jail and ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution for failing to deliver a contract involving unregistered securities.