Spam kings get dethroned


Yesterday's takedown of the world's largest spam gang by a federal court in Chicago, with a major assist from the Federal Trade Commission, is just the latest in a series of actions by federal authorities to put a dent in unwanted commercial e-mail.
On Tuesday, the notorious HerbalKing gang -- responsible for spouting billions of spam messages promoting prescription drugs, "male-enhancement" pills and diet pills -- was shuttered. "The feds are smarter about the problem, and they're effectively attacking it," says Richard Cox, chief information officer for anti-spam organization, The Spamhaus Project.
So far, this year several spammers have been imprisoned, convicted and indicted. For example:
-- September: Jeremy Jaynes was convicted of violating Virginia's Computer Crimes Act, which makes it a crime to send unsolicited bulk e-mail from a fraudulent address.
-- July: Adam Vitale, of Brooklyn, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for sending spam to more than 1.2 million subscribers of AOL. Vitale was sentenced in federal court in Manhattan after pleading guilty more than a year ago to breaking anti-spam laws. He was also ordered to pay $180,000 to AOL in restitution.
-- January: Alan Ralsky, described as one of the nation's most prolific spammers, was among 11 people accused in an indictment of defrauding people by manipulating Chinese stock prices. Ralsky, 52, of West Bloomfield Township, Mich., allegedly made about $3 million through the scheme in summer 2005 alone, U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy said.
According to the 41-count indictment, Ralsky and the other defendants sent tens of millions of e-mail messages to PCs worldwide, in an attempt to inflate prices for Chinese penny stocks. The defendants then sold the stocks at inflated prices, Murphy said.
By Jon Swartz

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