Spammers and Scammers In The Slammer

Category: Security

The steady stream of media reports about data breaches, phishing scams, and other cyber-threats can get pretty depressing. It seems like the bad guys are constantly winning. But in fact, law enforcement does score victories against spammers, scammers, and identity thieves, sending many to prison or worse. Here are a few examples...

They Didn't Get Away With It...

Sanford Wallace, the original self-styled “Spam King,” has pled guilty to fraud and criminal contempt of court in a case that dates back to 2008. In his guilty plea, Wallace admits to sending more than 27 million spam messages to over 500,000 Facebook members. He will be sentenced December 7, and faces up to three years in prison plus a $250,000 fine.

Wallace's misdeeds date back to early 1990s, when he engaged in junk fax marketing, and later ran CyberPromotions, which spewed email spam on a massive scale. He moved on to distributing spyware and malware, first on Myspace and then Facebook.

Prosecutors dubbed Robert Alan Soloway a “Spam King” during his 2007 trial for fraud, identity theft, money laundering, and fraud by mail, wire, and e-mail. He served 47 months in federal prison and was released in 2011.

Cyber Criminals who went to jail

And then there's the Russian King of Spam, who arguably deserved the title more than others who shared that nickname. Investigators believe that Oleg Nikolaenko's Mega-D botnet operation pumped out as many as 10 BILLION spam emails per day -- about one third of all spam in the late 2000s. In 2010 he was arrested while visiting a Las Vegas hotel, and spent three years in jail.

Albert Gonzalez is serving 20 years in Leavenworth prison for masterminding the biggest credit card scam in U. S. history. His gang stole and resold over 170 million credit card details between 2005 and 2007.

The UK is not without its online crooks. Peter Clifford "Weaselboy" Francis-Macrae spent six years in an English prison for, among other things, soliciting buyers for .eu domain names that he didn’t own. He also ran a fake ISP and Web hosting firm, using multiple aliases to make it seem the companies had many employees.

More Cybercriminals Who Went to Prison

Alan Ralsky started spamming in 1996, when his license to sell insurance was revoked, and soon became one of the most prolific spammers of all time. After Ralsky bragged about his “legitimate email marketing businesses” in The Detroit Free Press, the USENET community signed him up for every direct mailing list in the world. He was convicted of spamming and fraud in 2009 and spent the next three years in federal prison.

Richard Gundersen received a 41-month prison term and was ordered to pay $88 million in restitution following his November, 2014, conviction for his role in a complex scheme that involved hacking the networks of several banks and the U. S. military’s payroll system.

Arthur Grigorian will serve 42 months of federal time and repay $1.5 million to the IRS for his part in a tax fraud ring that used the stolen identities of elderly persons, many of whom had not filed taxes in years.

Mauricio Warner, of Smyrna, Georgia, got 20 years for filing $5 million worth of fraudulent tax refund claims using the stolen identities of over 5,000 victims. He obtained their Social Security Numbers and other data by promising “Obama stimulus payments” and “free government money” in spam e-mails.

Andranik Aloyan, of Los Angeles, a member of the Armenian Power criminal gang, was sentenced to 160 months in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy, attempted bank fraud, access device fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He also has to pay over $3.5 million in restitution to the 75 mostly elderly victims of his crimes.

A Worldwide Phenomenon...

25-year-old Hieu Minh Ngo will spend 13 years in Club Fed following his July, 2015, conviction for stealing the identities of more than 200 million Americans. Ngo, a Vietnam national, stole records from some of the world’s largest data brokers, including a division of credit reporting agency Experian, and sold them to other criminals.

Deniss Calovskis, the Latvian who helped improve the Gozi virus which infected banks’ Web sites and collected unauthorized data from visitors, pled guilty in September, 2015, to conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. He faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced on December 14.

Of course, no article about spammers and scammers would be complete without Nigeria, a country whose primary export is fraud. Olusegun Abayomi Martins, a citizen of that fair land, was convicted of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud in May, 2014. He will spend 42 months in the pen and then faces deportation. And in July, 2015, U. S. prosecutors successfully extradited six Nigerians who ran an online dating scam, the latest in their 15 year-string of online rackets.

Finally, the Justice Department may be getting tougher on cybercrooks, but the U. S. military has the maximum penalty. A U.S. drone strike in Syria killed Junaid Hussain, an ISIS hacker who exposed the personal data of several hundred military and civilian personnel.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Spammers and Scammers In The Slammer"

Posted by:

PDSterling
18 Sep 2015

I would be obliged to learn how to report this annoyance. I so hate it, and I forward all spam to the Federal Trade Commission, with full confidence that they won't do anything about it. Any advice would be gratefully appreciated!!


Posted by:

Mike
18 Sep 2015

Thanks Bob. It's great to seee these bumbs getting justice.
Mike


Posted by:

Mac 'n' Cheese
18 Sep 2015

It's always a great day when the good guys win one, isn't it? Thanks, Bob, for this comprehensive compendium of Rogue's Gallery losers.


Posted by:

Burt Finch
18 Sep 2015

I am glad some spammers and online crooks are being put away but it seems like the punishment is minor compared to the amount of damage they have done.


Posted by:

Harold
18 Sep 2015

This is the first time I have read anything about these people getting jail time and fines. Good. This is news that should be spread all over not kept from everybody.

Thanks,


Harold


Posted by:

Reg
18 Sep 2015

Wonder how many of them (and others)continue their nefarious activities from behind bars using computers they often get access to and/or smart phones they have?


Posted by:

Mark
18 Sep 2015

It's nice to know that "some" action is taken but I think it's too little and maybe too late.
I would make the penalty BIG enough to deter future spammers and ID crooks.


Posted by:

GeordieLad
18 Sep 2015

Make's heartwarming reading and appreciation for the penalties inflicted on these pests. I'd almost go as far as the "unltimate sanction" (your last item) for even those who are'nt our mortal enemies but still cause untold misery to many.


Posted by:

Stuart Berg
18 Sep 2015

Bob,
Are you aware of KnujOn (http://www.knujon.com/)? They want our spam so they can go after the "real" bad guys. There's no cost to the user. You create an account and then just forward all your spam to them. I use Gmail because it has the world's best spam filter. Once a day I forward my Gmail spam with one double-click by using another free program, gKnujOn (http://www.submanifold.be/triade/misc/gknujon/gknujon.html).

Another great program that I like is Blur (https://dnt.abine.com/) for masking email addresses. Masking email addresses is free. You use their "masked email address" whenever you have to supply an email address online. Then, if you start getting spam emails to that email address you can "pull the plug" by stopping that email address. So it lets you know who is spreading your email address for spam.


Posted by:

Mike T
18 Sep 2015

Thank you for this info. But it looks like our US Drones are the only real answer to stop this kind of crime. This should be a mandatory death sentence for all of these criminals.
Mike


Posted by:

Paul "Weaselboy"
18 Sep 2015

@PDSterling I use Spam Cop to report spam but not sure how effective it is. Am sure the service is swamped by submissions.


Posted by:

Monte Crooks
18 Sep 2015

In 1929, a fellow "sold" the same car to over 20 unsuspecting "victims." Of course, something happening over at the Stock Market buried his 1.5 seconds of fame.

Since Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, etc., human history is replete with those folks who expend lots more energy trying to break a law than those who don't. P.T. Barnum knew a "sucker" is born every minute. Sucks, don't it? Just like everything else Bob Rankin brings forth, I learned something from yet another great article. As long as there are those providing very interesting reasons for Bob's news, he will continue to keep all of U.S. interested and informed! Thank You Bob!!!


Posted by:

Denis
18 Sep 2015

Excellent!! News like this should be published more widely in the mainstream media. Another fine article Bob.


Posted by:

Ed
19 Sep 2015

I would have to agree with Reg and other comments. Do they have access to computer/internet while incarcerated? Also, for many, IMHO, what would they do when they are finished with a very small slap on the hand sentence received, but just go back to what they know? I think it's great that some are caught but would have to question the usefulness of the sentences or fines which seem piddly in comparison the the havoc wreaked upon so many.


Posted by:

Delton Baker
19 Sep 2015

A couple weeks ago I purchased a new Router. I was in a hurry to get it up and running. (My wife wanted to leave town the next morning.) It wasn't acting right it was showing some web pages and not others. So, I went to the web and searched for the manufacture and called tech support. I didn't notice it said third party tech support. They assured me the Router wasn't the problem, but they could fix my computer for $400.00. The router only cost $250.00. Heck for $400.00 I could by a new computer. I think whole thing was a fraudulent scam. I told him I didn't have $400.00 and hung up. I went back to the web page and used the CHAT function and ten minutes later all was good! The trouble is there is no mechanism to complain to the manufacturer.


Posted by:

Bill
19 Sep 2015

GREAT news Bob. I am glad to see that something is being done to punish these jerks


Posted by:

stew
19 Sep 2015

While it's nice to see some justice done to these thieving scum why is no action taken on the companies who's information is being stolen. After all trust is put in them to keep our information (valuable) and monies (a bit more valuable) safe and yet they seem to skimp on the kind of security that allows these actions to take place.


Posted by:

ronald sick
19 Sep 2015

Lost $27,000.00 on Skype to a female scammer,reported to Skype ,they said they would be back to me in 24hrs,never heard from them. Thank you for the article. Her Skype name was Gloria Brahyia. Ronald Sick


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