Saturday, April 29, 2006

DOJ jails Spam King

Valleywag reports Local hacker "Memehacker" IMed in with a scoop on Alan Ralsky, the famed "Spam King" covered by the Observer and the Detroit News. Here's the breaking story:

Valleywag: Tell me the scoop in three sentences.

Memehacker: Alan Ralsky is currently being held by the feds and his file is sealed for the next 72hrs by the DOJ. We are concerned that he is going to narq out the entire network since they have enough on him to send him to jail. This means hackers, spammers, anyone who has worked in spam legally or illegally for the last 5 years at least. The DOJ wants to do a dragnet, they have the top dog, but they want the whole system as well.

Wag: How many people could be in trouble?

MH: There is a risk of a huge network collapse in the hack scene. I couldn't estimate since I don't know who he has worked with, but it's a lot of people. Think of a huge pyramid with him at the top. He is one of the few people that has knowledge of a large part of the hackscene network.

Wag: What were Ralsky's biggest crimes? How would I explain this guy to my mom?

MH: Ralsky is known as the Spam King. He is one of the biggest spammers out there, his network and spamlists are huge. He is not afraid to use shady methods to bypass filters and to acquire new lists. He has been known to use the hack scene to help him spam and to get him new lists to work with.

Wag: What does he get out of ratting everyone out? And why didn't he do it in 2005 when he was raided?

MH: If he can cut a deal with the DOJ he may get a reduced sentence or even full immunity.

I hope he does not get full immunity, but if he can expose an entire network a reduced sentence might be ok. Give him probation for the rest, and if he begins spamming again, let him then serve the remainder of the term.
I don't know how much he has to offer them, but taking out a network as large as his would definitely give him some bargaining power. I believe this is still the same case as 2005, they just didn't have enough on him back then to really scare him. Shutting down his network is a lot less scary than jailtime, which was all they could do back then. We assume that it is more this time since the DOJ sealed the case. They don't do that unless they are planning to do something during that time.

Wag: How many people would get burned? How bad could the fallout be?

MH: It depends on who did what for him, or what he knows about people. I couldn't estimate, but currently a lot of people are very scared. It's not just about spamming, he knows stuff about other various activities in the hack scene.

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