Five prolific spammers today pleaded guilty to violating the CAN-SPAM Act in a federal court in Detroit in a case that took down a massive stock fraud operation, marking the Justice Department’s largest-ever prosecution under the 2003 statute.
Alan Ralsky and his son-in-law Scott Bradley could both receive sentences of more than six years in prison and a $1 million fine for the CAN-SPAM violations and additional charges of wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud.
“Alan Ralsky was at one time the world’s most notorious illegal spammer,” U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg said in a statement. “Today Ralsky, his son-in-law Scott Bradley and three of their co-conspirators stand convicted for their roles in running an international spamming operation that sent billions of illegal e-mail advertisements to pump up Chinese ‘penny’ stocks and then reap profits by causing trades in these same stocks while others bought at the inflated prices.”
The DoJ also secured guilty pleas from John Bown, William Neil and James Fite for their role in the operation. The three co-conspirators face jail terms ranging from two years to more than five years.
All five are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 29.
Ralsky, 64, was charged with masterminding a systematic campaign to pepper unsuspecting consumers with messages containing “materially false and misleading information or omissions” promoting junk stocks for “U.S. companies owned and controlled by individuals in Hong Kong and China.”
Cases against three other individuals accused of being involved with the scheme are still pending.