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HOWTO: Annoy a Spammer 981

Posted by michael
from the golden-rule dept.
Bob writes "I think everyone by now has heard of the millionaire spammer Alan Ralsky. Here's a follow-up to the previous story. It seems that since the story was posted, people have signed him up for every advertising campaign and mailing list out there. And he doesn't like it." They're talking about this Slashdot story.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

HOWTO: Annoy a Spammer

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  • Sympathy... (Score:4, Funny)

    by craenor (623901) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:03PM (#4827906) Homepage
    Is something you find in the dictionary between shit and syphillis.
  • by FortKnox (169099) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:03PM (#4827908) Homepage Journal
    From the article:
    "They've signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is," he told me. "These people are out of their minds. They're harassing me."

    Ok, start your bets. When will his mind click, and he understands that this is what he does to people for a living?

    My bets on 5 years.
    • This is different (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nuggz (69912) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:09PM (#4827963) Homepage
      You see, he won't get the point.

      This is different, this is being done for revenge. He spams because he has useful information to get out, plus it's so easy to just delete an email, it's a lot more work to sort through physical mail and throw it out.

      That being said, I don't see how his lawsuit will go as far as the anti spam lawsuits.
      • by JohnG (93975) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:50PM (#4828140)
        "He spams because he has useful information to get out"

        Really! I know I personally don't know how I ever lived without knowing that 66% of all women are unsatisfied with their lover penis size, or that the president of Nigeria is desperate to smuggle 10 million dollars out of his country, or that hot underage girls have sex with beasts! What wonderful people these spammers are!

        "plus it's so easy to just delete an email"

        As opposed to throwing a letter in a big empty can?

        "it's a lot more work to sort through physical mail and throw it out."

        Are you serious? This is absurd. You got get physical mail ONCE per day. When you expect alot of important emails like me you end up checking every new message that comes in. In the mornings there are usually about 20 emails for me to ciphter through, with another 30 or so coming in during the day. 90% of them are junk.

        • Uh... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Apathetic1 (631198) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:26PM (#4828378) Journal

          Are you serious?

          You seem to be sarcasm impaired. The post you replied to was playing devil's advocate for why this gentleman seems unable to understand why what he's doing is wrong.

          • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by JohnG (93975) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:57PM (#4828701)
            Yes, I'm sarcasm impaired and my life really was enriched by the knowledge that most women are unsatisfied in bed and the apparent popularity of pedophile bestiality.
            You see it doesn't really matter if the parent poster believes what he said or not. My point was that spammers don't believe what he said either. Spammers KNOW that they are annoying people. They KNOW that nobody is interested in the type of tastless garbage that they hock. But guess what?, they don't care because they have $750,000 houses.
            Luckily based on the moderation I can assume that at least MOST of the people understood the point I was trying to make and acknowledge that even sarcasm can be target of rebuttal.
        • by somethingwonderful (192688) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:25PM (#4828594) Homepage
          I agree that this is different:

          Junk mail costs him absolutely no money to have delivered to his door.

          His @#$#$ing spam mail costs me MY MONEY every time it eats up my bandwidth! Even if it costs me 1/1,000,000th of a cent for every one, it is still *MY MONEY* that he is *stealing* from me, that bastard.

          As I see it, he's not only an unwelcomed guest, but he's a god @#$# @#$@#$ing thief as well, and should get *sued* for stealing MY MONEY!

          Yeah, I have some *serious* issues with spammers.
      • by ch-chuck (9622) on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:57PM (#4828263) Homepage
        No, gang, please - keep this is mind, nobody is trying to cause trouble. You see, there are hundreds of thousands of businesses throughout the world and they all have lots of great purchasing opportunities. As a volunteer group, we just want him to be aware of those purchase opportunties, that's all. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we simply want him to be a well informed, fully 'opted in' consumer.

        Thank you.
        • by Xandar01 (612884) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:33PM (#4828945) Journal
          What if Slashdot did an Ask Alan Ralsky? We could make sure that he is truly enjoying all the oportunities that he's being presented with. Maybe CmdrTaco can call during dinner for an "informational survey."

          You think he'd actually answer the questions?
        • by fwoomer (59904) on Friday December 06, 2002 @06:31PM (#4829441)
          No, gang, please - keep this is mind, nobody is trying to cause trouble. You see, there are hundreds of thousands of businesses throughout the world and they all have lots of great purchasing opportunities. As a volunteer group, we just want him to be aware of those purchase opportunties, that's all. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we simply want him to be a well informed, fully 'opted in' consumer.

          And to think we provided this useful service to him out of the kindness of our hearts! And now the ingrate has the nerve to piss and moan about this wonderful service we've provided him. You just can't please some people.

          Tee Hee.
        • by Eggplant62 (120514) on Friday December 06, 2002 @07:41PM (#4829929)
          Really, man. If he doesn't want the stuff, he should *JUST OPT OUT*. That's right, unsubscribe. In this case, pick up the phone or write a letter to each magazine publisher and marketing company and request they remove him from their lists. Really, it's very simple.

          Now, how many offers do you think he's receiving a day? If it's anything like what my parents get after living in the same place for the last 12 years, with Mom shopping in every mail order catalog she can find, and trust me, I've had to go pick up their mail during their vacations--mail delivery at their house can be a stack a foot high. How it fits in the mailbox is an entirely different question.

          I hope he's inundated. I hope he gets a sense of what we all feel when we see his shit. Oh, wait, he says he wants to sue antispammers for "harrassing" him. I see he's got that sense now.
      • Re:This is different (Score:5, Interesting)

        by The Monster (227884) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:53PM (#4829133) Homepage
        it's a lot more work to sort through physical mail and throw it out.
        It also costs the senders more than it does the receivers - he pays absolutely nothing for unsolicited p-mail, and if he has a fireplace in that new house of his, can use it for kindling. In fact, I have heard of someone who deliberately got on mailing lists, bundled up the junk mail, and used it in his wood-burning stove to heat his house.
    • by doublem (118724) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:12PM (#4827985) Homepage Journal
      This man suffers from a common human ailment. He does not have the ability to see what he does as wrong. Everyone else is a rube for him to exploit. He (in his own mind) can do whatever he wants, but if someone dares try the same stunt on him, they're going DOWN.

      That said, he's also a moron. He's been signed up for all that mail under false pretenses. It's mail fraud and a Federal Offense.

      Yet the dim bulb is calling a lawyer to file and civil lawsuit instead of a criminal one.

      Glad I keep my nose out of this nonsense.
      • by scotch (102596) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:49PM (#4828139) Homepage
        His ailment == "lack of empathy". Truly a common human deficiency. He will not be missed when the agents of karma take him out.
        • by _ph1ux_ (216706) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:51PM (#4829107)
          Seriously. It is so sad that so many have a real malformed idea of what being "human" is.

          The world today needs some serious work to become even as good a world is was 30 years ago.

          The loss of such important concepts like empathy, compassion, respect (especially respect) allows the sickness and cancerous traits take root in the mind and behaviors of society as a whole. No longer are people concerned about others, and it is so wide spread that we see it expressed in the way corporations and businesses are setup as if conceived and executed by robots - where humans are nothing but a consumable. (hence we are now known as consumers - not because we consume - but rather our resources (money, time, mindshare) and in the end, ourselves - is what is consumed by the machine that is the corporate bottom line and profit margin)

          Hopefully some slashdotters out there will take a moment in their illusinal lives to stop and realize that everything outside of yourself, your relationships with the people around you and your attitude towards the current reality is the reality - and the only thing that matters. Otherwise - when moving through your life with your whole focus of being on concepts (and remeber that all that exists - exists as concept. Some manifest in physical form - most manifest in rule of conduct through material life) which are not founded on solid principle, you create a meaningless and illusory reality for yourself, your soul - and all whose life you influence and touch.

          Please breath for a minute and try to enlighten and raise another persons life - even for just a moment. Then realise that there is only one moment you ever need to do this in, only one moment you ever need to be mindful of. Now.
      • "This man suffers from a common human ailment. He does not have the ability to see what he does as wrong. Everyone else is a rube for him to exploit. He (in his own mind) can do whatever he wants, but if someone dares try the same stunt on him, they're going DOWN."

        It's called a Dogbert [dilbert.com] complex.

      • by siskbc (598067) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:39PM (#4828450) Homepage
        That said, he's also a moron. He's been signed up for all that mail under false pretenses. It's mail fraud and a Federal Offense.

        You're right, it is, and that's a protection that email should enjoy as well. I guess a while back when the US developed a great mail service (for the time), and people started abusing it, there was this huge push to punish people who do so. Hence, all the criminals that the cops can't pin anything on, but they get them for abuse of mails (that and tax evasion).

        Point is, he is signing people up for/sending people stuff under false pretenses daily - or does he really think that people have "opted in" to his lists like he claims? If they did, why would he have to use countermeasures to get around anti-spam software?

        If we just extended the existing laws, it would reduce spam dramatically. Like when you request an opt-out, they can't resell your name. No forged headers. No disguised opt-ins. If we can get those things (and turn off all of asia ;> ), spam should be easy to block.
        • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday December 06, 2002 @06:51PM (#4829568) Journal
          It's mail fraud and a Federal Offense.

          You're right, it is, and that's a protection that email should enjoy as well.


          No, it should not.

          Mail fraud is a federal offense because it misuses a FEDERAL SERVICE. That gives the government a nexus to come down on it in a draconian fashion - and also to come down on OTHER uses of the service, like for speech the government doesn't like (i.e. porn). Try to protect email as MAIL and you let the federal censorship camel's nose into the tent.

          The way email SHOULD be protected is the same way your fax machine is protected against unsolicted faxes.

          The cases are virtually identical: The email and fax spammers both misuse a private interstate communication network to consume your resources (connect time, machine time, fax paper/disk space, eyeball time, etc.) without your permission, reducing its utility and sometimes delaying or causing the loss of other, solicted messages.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:49PM (#4828504)

        MAIL FRAUD - 18 U.S.C. 1341, makes it a Federal crime or offense for anyone to use the United States mails in carrying out a scheme to defraud.

        A person can be found guilty of that offense only if all of the following facts are proved: First: That the person knowingly and willfully devised a scheme to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false pretenses, representations or promises; and Second: That the person used the United States Postal Service by mailing, or by causing to be mailed, some matter or thing for the purpose of executing the scheme to defraud.

        SCHEME OR ARTIFICE TO DEFRAUD - A scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services. 18 USC; Any plan or course of action intended to deceive others, and to obtain, by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, money or property from persons so deceived.



        In this case, no one is trying to obtain money or property. Hence, no mail fraud.

      • Mail fraud - not (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wytcld (179112) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:45PM (#4828660) Homepage
        He's been signed up for all that mail under false pretenses. It's mail fraud and a Federal Offense.

        1. Mail fraud is when you use the mail to commit fraud. Does signing up someone via the Web or an 800 number constitute using the mail to commit fraud?

        2. Many catalogs come to me that I never signed up for. Are each of these companies committing mail fraud? What about the people who sold them the lists that suggested I might be interested in their products?

        3. If he's a millionaire, he is a prime candidate for a number of lists, and qualifies to receive a number of catalogs he may not presently be receiving. If it's not mail fraud for the catalog firms to buy lists of addresses of potential purchasers, is it fraud when people volunteer addresses of potential purchasers to them without asking for compensation?

        4. Many catalog merchants ask for addresses of friends who might also like to receive their catalog. After receiving so much mail from this guy, can't we consider him our friend? Or do our friends commit mail fraud if they sign us up?

    • by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:36PM (#4828097) Homepage Journal

      When will his mind click, and he understands that this is what he does to people for a living?

      I know someone like this personally. He understands what it is that he does, but the ethical analysis which would allow him to see the irony of his position, much less the hypocrisy, simply is not there. People like this do not have a conscience and therefore do not behave like the rest of us.

      In short, therefore, this will never "click"

    • Turnabout Fair Play (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:19PM (#4828196) Homepage Journal
      From the article:
      "They've signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is," he told me. "These people are out of their minds. They're harassing me."

      Ok, start your bets. When will his mind click, and he understands that this is what he does to people for a living?

      Whoever said pondscum and their ilk have to have a sense of irony, or even humor? He's a sore loser, for certain. Keep in mind that Slashdot, should his shark decide to pursue, has a presence in Michigan, same state Alan infests.

      Also from the article:
      "That they are. Gleefully. Almost 300 anti-Ralsky posts were made on the Slashdot.org Web site, where the plan was hatched after spam haters posted his address, even an aerial view of his neighborhood."

      "Ralsky is indeed annoyed. He says he's asked Bloomfield Hills attorney Robert Harrison to sue the anti-spammers."

      It would seem just too bad if his attorney advised him thusly:

      "Look, Alan, you're a problem yourself, you steal bandwidth, you fill paid resources with unwanted clutter, which robs people of their time to clean it up, you collect a lot of money doing it and then you flaunt it, so you're stupid, also. All this is part of the environment you've chosen to do business in, deal or get out of it."

      BTW, slashdot seems under considerable strain. Is this a freep-effect or might Ralsky be lowering himself to launch a DoS attack on slashdot?

      An afterthought... Alan Ralksy has chosen to locate his business inside his new home. Doesn't this mean, if he were collectively sued, and lost, the house as part of the business assets, could be seized?

      • by Arcturax (454188) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:48PM (#4828499)
        I would like to see how he plans to prove that /. is the reason for his woes? Anyone could have gotten the information that was posted there. Unless people were dumb enough to indentify themselves as the ones signing him up for junk mail, he can't prove anything.

        Hopefully the justice system will see all of this as his own damn fault for being a spammer and then bragging about it to a reporter. If he had kept his dumb mouth shut, no one would likely have found him out.
        • by Kintanon (65528) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:49PM (#4829097) Homepage Journal
          I gladly identify myself as having signed him up for several helpful catalogs which I think he may find useful. If he wishes to sue me for my kindness he may contact me at kintanon at yahoo.com with any complaints he might have.
          Remember though, he has a pre-existing business relationship with me via business related e-mails which he sent to me. I reserve the right to share any information about my business partners with entities which I believe might be able to provide a valuable service.
          If he chooses to press the issue I may unleash the wrath of half of the lawyers in the state of Georgia upon him....

          Kintanon
      • by ebh (116526) <ebh-slashdot@hy p e r r e a l . o rg> on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:44PM (#4829047) Journal
        Alan Ralksy has chosen to locate his business inside his new home. Doesn't this mean, if he were collectively sued, and lost, the house as part of the business assets, could be seized?

        Dunno about that, but I'm curious about how his property is zoned. Most housing developments, especially in his price range, aren't zoned for dual-use.

        IANAL but IAAHO (I am a homeowner), and AFAIK, if I run a business out of my house and my property is not zoned for it, the town could conceivably slap an injunction on the business activity, or at the very least, have some fun with my property tax assessment after costing me hefty fees and legal expenses to get the proper variances.

      • by Ian Peon (232360) <`ian' `at' `epperson.com'> on Friday December 06, 2002 @06:03PM (#4829236)
        No, not quite. His attourney would probably say something more along the lines of:

        "Look, Alan, you're a problem yourself, you steal bandwidth, you fill paid resources with unwanted clutter, which robs people of their time to clean it up, you collect a lot of money doing it and then you flaunt it, so you're stupid, also. All this is part of the environment you've chosen to do business... Oh, you brought cash. Well, OK."

  • "Ha ha!" (Score:4, Funny)

    by Zapaanese.Whore (315742) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:04PM (#4827916)

    It's the small spiteful things like this that just make life bearable from time to time ;)

    - Z
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:05PM (#4827920)
    >He says he's asked Bloomfield Hills attorney
    >Robert Harrison to sue the anti-spammers.

    Sounds like another "opportunity" for the Slashdot crowd. A spammer's lawyer: is there a lower form of life?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:13PM (#4828329)
      From the State Bar of Michigan Website

      Robert S. Harrison - P14691
      Robert Harrison & Assoc
      240 E Merrill St
      Birmingham, MI 48009-6106

      Phone: (248) 253-1800
      Fax: (248) 253-9446
      E-mail: rsh@rharrisonplc.com

      (Birmingham is 1.5 miles from Bloomfield)
    • no no no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MacAndrew (463832) on Friday December 06, 2002 @06:09PM (#4829281) Homepage
      Harassing the lawyer for doing his job is another step altogether. If he himself is harassing people, that's one thing; if he's just protecting the spammer's rights, he's doing his job. For that matter bear in mind that the law frowns on self-help generally.

      Remember that excessive harassment will make the antispammers look every bit as contemptible as the spammer. The antispam effort needs the moral high ground. I'm talking about the perceptions of 3rd parties.

      Please don't bother to tell me how terrible spammers are; I agree. But I don't think it wise to trample everything in our path to take what we believe to be ours. That's what the spammers do, after all, and "but we're right!" is nice but does not authorize disreagard for the rules of the game.

      What's next? Spam anyone who even makes a gesture at fair play that might somehow benefit the spammer? That's one of the reasons I'll never post my email address.
  • by digitalamish (449285) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:05PM (#4827922)
    With all that money, he should have bought a house to receive all of the spam snail mail, and kept his home address private.
    --
    No electrons were harmed in the creation of this post.
  • Idiot... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gimpin (595657) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:05PM (#4827923)
    Quit your bitching. Why don't you use a couple of those millions you have and buy someone to filter your mail.
  • ROTFLOL (Score:4, Interesting)

    by josepha48 (13953) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:05PM (#4827924) Journal
    Its about time! Maybe if all spammers got floods of email in their email boxes about sex adds and buy this and that they would see what it is like and stop, and email could become useful again.

    Maybe that is what should happen to script kiddies and hackers. They should be dos's to death!

    I'm all for extrme methods when extrme methods are used against me.

  • by joelwest (38708) <joel@joe[ ]st.com ['lwe' in gap]> on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:05PM (#4827927) Homepage
    He's going to sue whom? He has to find them first. And then prove that they did it. And prove that he is suffereing damages.

    In Soviet Russia, you annoy the spammers.
    • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:33PM (#4828076)
      "He's going to sue whom? He has to find them first. And then prove that they did it. And prove that he is suffereing damages."

      Hopefully when he thinks about that, he'll realize the fundamental problem with a business like that: There's no verification process.

      Let me give you an example: I did an experiment with Slashdot a few weeks ago. I created a brand new, never before used email address and made it visible in my info w/o the anti-spam armor. Within days, I was on a mailing list for volunteer fire fighters. Volunteer Firefighters? I'm reaaaaaaaaaaally curious how I ended up with that. heh.

      It's too easy to sign up anonymously. Because of that, it's too hard to sue somebody over a stunt like that. Want my opinion? Blast a few other people in the same way until they realize that the only way to deal with this problem is to make the signup process more secure. When that happens, (hopefully) we'll see less unsolicited advertisements.

      Maybe I'm too optimistic.
  • by Spicy Bisquit (100885) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:05PM (#4827928)
    sign him up to various organizations:
    -NAMBLA
    -The Klan
    -The Rosie O'Donnel Fan club
  • by NixterAg (198468) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:06PM (#4827932)
    And he doesn't like it

    How can I help him like it even less?
  • by TVmisGuided (151197) <alan DOT jump AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:06PM (#4827939) Homepage

    IIRC there's an AEsop's fable which holds the moral that "one is usually paid in one's own coin." I doubt anyone will (successfully) argue that this is, in fact, the case here.
    'Nuff said.

  • by hether (101201) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:09PM (#4827959)
    "Ralsky is indeed annoyed. He says he's asked Bloomfield Hills attorney Robert Harrison to sue the anti-spammers."

    How does he plan to identify who to sue? And is he really going to pay to have his lawyer track down the 300+ slashdot users who posted "anti-Ralsky posts"? This just seems silly.
  • Two Words (Score:5, Funny)

    by fizz-beyond (130257) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:09PM (#4827970) Homepage
    I have two words for him.
    Opt Out.
    Oh wait, he can't. and neither can I!
  • Curing Spam (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:10PM (#4827979)
    Spam is profitable if ~.004% of the recipients respond (and buy the product).
    It is impossible to stop this .004% from responding.
    Is Spamming profitable when 100-1000% of the spams get replies?
    If a company sees that it loses several thousand dollars in bandwidth costs, broken equipment AND the people who want to buy can't place orders, AND the spammer demands unreasonable amounts for the millions of replies, said company MUST stop paying for spam. When enough companies stop, spam will stop.

    Time to set up a SLASHDDOS effect.
    • by Unknown Poltroon (31628) <unknown_poltroon1sp@myahoo.com> on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:00PM (#4828719)
      Build a program/milserver, that automatically takes any mail sent to it, and sends out a polite reply asking for more informainon to be mailed to a bogus snail mail address, and maybe a phone callback. Vary the message every day, so they cant catch on. Any replies sent to the box get a different message, insisting on snail mail. How much bandwidth would this suck? ANd how may of these would have to be set up inorder to take down the spam industry? if they got 10% bogus replies, would that be enough?
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:13PM (#4827997)
    What's wrong, Ralsky?

    If you don't want these exciting offers, why don't you just opt out?

    I'm sure that Aaron Adams will be happy to stop sending you stuff. Now, whether Aaron Afton will stop sending you stuff, you'll have to ask him to stop, too. But by DMA rules, the opt-out is only good for one person, and for one year. That's okay. By the time you've opted out of Zeke Zjibidan's list of exciting offers, you should have at least a couple of days before Aaron Adams can ask you if you're sure you still wanna be opted out of his Aaron's list.

    (Okay, so I admit that opting Ralsky into junk mail isn't quite as much fun as, say, opting him into a service that would have gone all-Vlad-the-Impaler on him in front of Chinanet's headquarters as a warning to the Falun Gong and Level3, but it sounds like it was a delightful bit of revenge. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea and to all who participated. I wish I'd been a part of it.)

  • by Drakin (415182) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:15PM (#4828002)
    An attempted slashdotting of a physical address?

    Got to admit though, it's rather funny...
  • An open Reply (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BubbaTheBarbarian (316027) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:16PM (#4828006) Journal
    An open reply to Alan,

    Alan,
    Sue me bitch. I don't give a care. For years now, you and your have somehow gotten my email and sent me all sorts of shit that takes my time from me. My time is money, and if you want to go down that route, then go ahead.
    You take my time, I'll take yours. You can sue the anti-spammers all you want, but your dumb ass will smaked so hard your head will spin and will take you another 5 years just to get over that.
    So sue bitch. You take my server space, my bandwidth, and my time and force me to clean up the shit you leave on the internet.
    If you don't like it, leave us the hell alone, or find a better way of doing your "job"

    "Bastard operators don't win...anyone can win. Bastard operators win and TOTALLY demoralize. That is REAL winning."
  • by stubear (130454) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:18PM (#4828015)
    ...is no justice at all. Imagine if everyone felt they had the right to take the law into their own hands and dispense justice as they saw fit our legal system would become unbalanced. Individuals would place differing penalties based on their own moral judgments, not based on a standard of law. Judge, jury, executioner.

    Indeed, not a short month or so ago the RIAA was proposing congress pass legislation which would enable them to hunt down and possibly destroy or disable a system they believe to be involved with infringing intellectual property. Judge, jury, executioner.

    Many in these forums cried foul against this form of vigilante justice, and rightly so because vigilante justice is no justice at all. Even when the shoe is on the other foot, as it appears to be in this case, it still makes the act of dispensing justice, without the backing of our legal system, wrong.
    • by pmancini (20121) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {inicnamp}> on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:34PM (#4828081) Homepage
      Vigilanties are self elected groups (which is the case here) that declare themselves outside of the state and federal courts (not done here) that proclaim the right to arrest, judge and kill or otherwise punish their subjects (also not done here).

      What this is a case of is the State and Federal Courts claiming that mass mailing is ok. It is also ok for mass mailers to find email and physical addresses by any means and to send material in bulk without solicitation. All this group of alleged vigilanties did was exactly what the alleged spammer did. They acted as independent agents for legitimate bulk mailing firms and supplied his information to them. The material sent to the alleged spammer was legitimate commercial solicitation, the very same type he himself has proclaimed to make a living sending to others.

      The alleged spammer can sue in civil court (which allows suits for almost any reason). There are a variety of tactics he can employ to allege damage and seek retribution. I don't think it will be a very interesting case or at all successful.

      It is the type of low-curb protection that tends to get the courts to look at a social problem and then the next thing you know you have government regulation.

      Personally, I watched my own email box for a 24 hour period. Of 112 emails recieved, only 9 were actual emails. The rest were a varity of unsolicited commercial mail, many of an extremely purile nature.

      I didn't participate in the group that set this guy up for getting all of this unsolicited commercial mail, but I fully sympathize with the group.
    • by nuggz (69912) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:43PM (#4828120) Homepage
      The point is they want to demonstrate their complaint to this person. Reasonable explanations haven't worked. So they are giving a more practical demonstration.

      Their snail mail spam of a few hundred pieces isn't that much different then his billions of pieces of email spam.

      The only apparent difference is that he can't understand what he is doing is wrong when he does it. Although he realizes it is wrong when it happens to him.
    • Not even close (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drew_kime (303965) on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:07PM (#4828175) Homepage Journal
      Imagine if everyone felt they had the right to take the law into their own hands and dispense justice as they saw fit our legal system would become unbalanced. Individuals would place differing penalties based on their own moral judgments, not based on a standard of law.

      Check out the background a little bit. From the original article [freep.com]:
      It's an operation still very much in business, despite last month's much-hyped settlement of a lawsuit against Ralsky by Verizon Internet Services. The suit used Virginia's tough anti-spam laws to get Ralsky to promise to stop using Verizon servers and pay an undisclosed fee for sending out millions of unsolicited e-mails to its customers.

      So it seems Ralsky is the one who has engaged in illegal activity. Further:
      In 1992, while in the insurance business, he served a 50-day jail term for a charge arising out of the sale of unregistered securities. And in 1994, he was convicted of falsifying documents that defrauded financial institutions in Michigan and Ohio and ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution.

      So he also has a history of fraudulent business practices in multiple other businesses before coming to SPAM.

      Now from you:
      Indeed, not a short month or so ago the RIAA was proposing congress pass legislation which would enable them to hunt down and possibly destroy or disable a system they believe to be involved with infringing intellectual property.

      This example is of a company trying to get a law changed to make it legal for them, and only them, to hack into other people's computer systems. The people who signed Ralsky up for all this junk mail did not enter his home or his systems, did not illegally release any information that was not pulicly available, and did not violate -- nor attempt to have changed -- any laws preventing what they did.

      How exactly is this the same?
    • by Pac (9516) <paulo...candido@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:44PM (#4828234)
      Who, short of you, is talking about justice and vigilantism?

      The guy is receiving nice, legal, commercial offers someone thought he might be interested in. If he doesn't want them, he may well opt-out. It is a very simple process, all he have to do is write or call the senders to be immediately removed from their lists.

      And I might also remember you that there are no laws regulating spam, so we are basically talking about a guy who insist on being un-civilised for the sake of a (millions of) buck. If he can be so unpolite as to send me (and millions of people more) hundreds of unsolicited emails a week, why should everyone be nice and treat him as if he was just a regular Joe working hard to make ends meet?

      Well, he is not. He belongs to a class of people you won't be inviting over for dinner nor letting your daughter date. He has no clue about online etiquette, nor he want to have.

      Your comparison with the RIAA situation is also out of line. RIAA was asking to be exempt from some very severe and important laws. This guy does nothing illegal. Also, nothing illegal was done to him.

      As long as the law is concerned, no one was hurt. This is exactly how it should be: he does nothing to hurt us (by sending spam) and we (the whole body of the Internet) do nothing to hurt him (by sending him nice commercial offers through regular mail).
    • by Julian Morrison (5575) on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:52PM (#4828243)
      Vigilante justice (AKA blood-feud) is the best foundation for real justice. Far better than law made by politicians and enforced without the individual's consent.

      I'll explain...

      The supposition you seem to be working from is that unopposed vigilante justice would result in innocent folks being harmed. But, you forget that blood-feud cuts both ways - commit an injustice and you could be next on somebody's hit list.

      It takes people very little time to realise that starting a war this way is to nobody's benefit. Thus spring up voluntary courts based on customary, not fiat, law. The aim of which, is to repair the harm done by one person to another. This voluntary legal system has market-forces that prevent the kinds of abuse to which legislative law is prone. Too harsh a fine, and the crook refuses to follow the judgement, preferring to shoot it out or at least negotiate for a different judge. Too soft, and the victim does likewise. And in no case can a law suit be brought where there has been no harm - the defendant would refuse to come to court, the judge would refuse to try it. Thus are avoided bread-and-circuses laws that steal from some and give favors to others, thus are avoided bans on victimless "crimes".

      That was pretty much how it worked in viking Iceland - a system which lasted for 300 years (more than the USA thus far). They have sagas about their heroic lawyers, rather than hating them as pond scum as this culture does.

      Not only does the law belong "in your own hands", but that's the only way to get honest justice.
  • by Jippy_ (564603) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:22PM (#4828027)
    Maybe he's just pissed off because Bernard Shiffman keeps sending him resume's.
  • I would like to send an e-mail voicing my support for him in these troubled times, of course.
  • street address redux (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:25PM (#4828038)
    I'm such an anonymous coward. Here's the address.

    Alan M Ralsky
    6747 Minnow Pond Dr
    West Bloowfield Township, MI 48322-2663
    • by Kintanon (65528) on Friday December 06, 2002 @05:40PM (#4829009) Homepage Journal
      Thank you, I did my part and signed him up for half a dozen catalogs he might be interested in. I believe him sending me business related e-mails constitutes a prior business relationship with me, which I have taken advantage of to send him these excellent catalogs in which he might find some amazing gifts for his family, or products that he may enjoy using.
      Bondage Whores monthly is surely a high quality publication and I hope he gets many hours of use out of the items he is sure to wish to purchase from them!

      Kintanon
  • by idahogie (565047) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:27PM (#4828046)
    Let's send Buzz Aldrin over to his house.
  • Info about Ralsky (Score:5, Informative)

    by fatquack (538774) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:28PM (#4828052)
    If you want to help, head over to htpp://www.spamhaus.org or more info on Ralsky directly at: http://www.spamhaus.org/rokso/search.lasso?evidenc efile=1290
  • by MacAndrew (463832) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:31PM (#4828069) Homepage
    ...from this adolescent spamming (notice I don't say I disapprove -- it qualifies as poetic justice) is there's a weakness to even conservative opt-in spam -- 3rd party abuse. It's been done, to mass-subscribe a target -- even nice guys -- to multiple irritating lists at the click of a script. This could also be used as a cover for spammers to play dumb when someone complains.

    This kind of stunt has been done for years, as by filling out lots of those "tell more more!" business cards with the victim's info. Again, the internet takes a little problem and magnifies it 100-fold. This can be used for evil as well as "good."

    So ... if opt-in is to work, there has to be some add'l layer of caution such as a practical methods of authentication. Suggestions? The snadard now is to send a single email requesting a reply before the opt-in is confirmed. Is there a way to spoof this?
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:39PM (#4828104) Journal
    I recently received my first off-color spam email at my "main" address (three years, pr0n spam free). There was a "remove-me" link to a blind web-page, but that seemed beyond foolish. I almost just deleted the email, but realized that I didn't want to leave this unanswered.

    I opened the html body, then did a whois search on all six domains in the email. Four were owned by the "sender." One was for the content company, another for a payment processing company. I also looked up Virginia spam laws. There is one, section 18.2-152.4: Computer Trespass. It states

    A. It shall be unlawful for any person to use a computer or computer network without authority and with the intent to:

    7. Falsify or forge electronic mail transmission information or other routing information in any manner in connection with the transmission of unsolicited bulk electronic mail through or into the computer network of an electronic mail service provider or its subscribers.

    The offense is a class 6 misdemeanor. In addition section 152.12 has civil relief and damages of legal fees, court costs, and the greater of actual damages or $10 per email (limited to $25,000/day) payable both the receiver and the email provider.

    I replied, as the postmaster of my domain, that the email was unwanted, and I was not to receive any transmissions in the future to any emails in this domain. I sent the email to the admin contact of each domain, and to the return-to addressee with a return receipt. I notified them that, should I not receive a response from the return-addressee, the email would be assumed to include "falsified mail transmission information" and would be in violation of the applicable Virginia statute.

    A week later I received an inquiry from the payment processor asking for the email body in order to identify the spammer. A day after sending the body text, I received a nice email from the same company, apologizing for the inconvenience and informing me that the spammers account had been frozen, as he was in violation of his terms of service.

    It's a shame he hadn't sent me a couple hundred emails at once, so I could have filed in civil court for a couple of grand. Spending 30 minutes to piss him off is worth my time, but filing in court for $10 isn't.
  • If he tries to sue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:41PM (#4828112)
    Just tell him you were paid to provide his address to the junk mail people. Clearly it's not harrasment if you're getting paid, then it's just sound buisness practice (in his own little twisted amoral world at least)

    If he actually succeeded, wouldn't he open himself up to one giant countersuit?

  • by DocSnyder (10755) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:45PM (#4828123)
    For quite some time I've been putting any relay test dropbox, any spamvertized domain, any spammer or spamfriendly hoster's domain into my Sugarplum [devin.com] installation. Harvesters scanning my web site will fall into the trap [docsnyder.de] at the beginning without discovering the rest of my site.

    What is more, these adresses get posted into Usenet *.test groups. These newsgroups get harvested like crazy, with spam incidents occuring only a few days after posting and hitting several times per day. Since there is no obligation to use realnames for *.test postings, the most effective way to have spammers spam each other is using their addresses as sender ("From" header).

    A few weeks ago a 419 scammer annoyed some members of the German anti-spam community with his crap. Usually most 419 scammers spamvertize their email address within the email body, Reply-To or even From. As his address seemed to be valid (to receive answers of fool^Wcustomers), we posted it into quite some *.test newsgroups. A day later, someone with a Nigerian IP address answered "don't mess around with us, read ya". Followup was "Oh, you're spamming each other? Here is some more food" and a list with hundreds of spammer's and spamfriendly people's email addresses.

    The occurrence frequency of 419 scam has actually declined since then.

  • by jehreg (120485) on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:53PM (#4828148) Homepage
    If they go to trial, have the defence lawyer ding a bell at random intervals during the whole process of the trial. At some point the judge will want to kill the lawyer, thereby demonstrating that the defendants (the slashdudes) have been rendered insane by the annoyance of receiving massive amounts of unsolicitated "dings".

    When the judge finally screams "Will you stop that ?!?", have the lawyer look the judge straight in the eyes and say calmly: "No."

    Ipso facto.

  • by N3WBI3 (595976) on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:03PM (#4828168) Homepage
    from /. in the electronic world to /. in the physical world, sorry postal carriers.
  • by KoolDude (614134) on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:12PM (#4828183)

    Did you sign up Alan Ralsky yet ?
    * Damn Right
    * No...I suck
    * Not Yet
    * I was busy deleting spam from my inbox
    * I signed up CowBoyNeal instead.
    <vote>
  • I know a Spam Guy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xtremex (130532) <cguru@bigf o o t . c om> on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:52PM (#4828247) Homepage
    I know somebody that is a spammer. He makes a LOT of money doing it. I tell him every time I see him how much he is hated by the 'Net community. He makes about $300,000 a year though. I asked him if HE hates spam. he says no. He has Spam Filters on his email box(Spam Assassin, etc) . He says that he doesnt want the people who put up spam filters...he recommends it to everybody..he wants the people who don't have it, and they will always be there. He makes money from companies who pay him. They say it works. Throw spaghetti at the wall, eventually some will stick. He has promised me that he takes out my friends emails from his list. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:58PM (#4828265)
    I am writing this article to request something for a terminaly ill boy.

    Alan M Ralsky is a seven year old boy who has terminal cancer. His ambition before he dies is to be included in the Guinness Book of Records as having the largest collection of post cards.

    My request is that EVERYONE who reads this posting send at least one post card to him at:

    Alan M Ralsky
    6747 Minnow Pond Dr
    West Bloowfield Township, MI 48322-2663

    Please pass this information on to as many people as possible. Let's make a child's dream come true before its too late.

    Best wishes.

    A hopeful person.
  • Pure evil (Score:5, Funny)

    by crawdaddy (344241) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:00PM (#4828275)
    I've sunk to an all-time low. I signed this guy up with the most notoriously evil group of snail mail spammers there are.

    That's right...I signed up him up with BMG Music...15 times. He'd better remember to send back all those CDs that come in monthly.

    Throw in the fact that BMG Music doesn't know the meaning of "opt-out" and I think that means that I've just one-upped you all!
  • by Zordak (123132) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:26PM (#4828381) Homepage Journal
    I want to be the judge who tries this case SO badly. I would find for Ralsky in a minute. My opinion would make it clear that obtaining contact information for a person without explicit consent and using that contact information to send a person unsolicited advertisements is, indeed, harassment, and that each instance of such harassment is worth something like $10. Then, I would order him to collect $10 from each offender he has positively identified (What? You haven't been able to identify any? All you know is that 31337 h4X0r 2002 posted an anti-spam message on Slashdot, and you suspect he is one of 300 culprits? Sorry, we can't prosecute somebody for expressing an opinion, but feel free to come back as soon as you have identified whoever signed you up). Even if he finds somebody, you have to cough up $10, which I hope you will all agree is well worth it.

    Now, you see where I'm going? The class action counter suit rolls in. Based on the precedent set by the previous case, I find that each instance of using an address obtained without consent to send solicitations is harassment. Then, we subpoena all of his mailing lists. For each address in his mailing lists for which he cannot produce a clear and specific opt-in, we charge him $10. This guy probably has tens of millions of addresses, so he gets fined hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, granted, the fines are supposed to go to the injured parties, so we collect money from Ralsky until he's bankrupt for life and set it up in an escrow account until parties appear to claim it. Any money not claimed within like 12 months goes to some worthy cause.

    Now I just have to get to be a judge in Michigan in the next couple of weeks. I guess I'd better step up the campaign!

  • quick question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rattler14 (459782) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:31PM (#4828405)
    So if this guys sues the spammers and wins, can't his case be used to set precedent against people like himself?

    i know that in his case, people signed him up for this crap, but still, wouldn't it be in his best interest not to use legal action?
  • by mmmuttly (631983) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:33PM (#4828420)
    I heard her whining on Morning edition yesterday about how put out she has been since they ran an article about her in the WallStreet Journal...

    'Spam Queen' Defends Direct Marketing Via E-Mail [npr.org]
    (Morning Edition Audio) Dec. 3, 2002
    Direct marketer Laura Betterly speaks to NPR's John Ydstie.

    Laura Betterly
    717 Weathersfield Dr
    Dunedin , FL
    (727) 733-5335
    Data Resource Consulting Inc.
    Remember she has a 5,000-square-foot home, with a pool and a Lexus just begging to be filled with your cards and letters. original slashdot posting [slashdot.org]
    Wall Street Journal Story [wsj.com]

    other mentions:

    http://www.techtv.com/screensavers/shownotes/story /0,24330,3407845,00.html
    http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/mon/business/ archive.htm
    http://www.angrywhitegirl.com/weblog/weblog.php
  • by Antity (214405) on Friday December 06, 2002 @04:16PM (#4828539) Homepage

    Here we go. Please note: None of the postal addresses have been finally verified to belong to this spammer! So please Don't register some innocent guy for something or send them "presents". Many thanks.

    That said:

    • "Al Ralsky" aka Alan M. Ralsky
    • Most probable current postal address:
      Alan M Ralsky
      6747 Minnow Pond Dr
      West Bloomfield Township, MI 48322-2663
    • Probably his last address:
      Alan Ralsky
      5016 Patrick Rd
      West Bloomfield, MI 48322-1543
      Phone: (248) 661-5166
    • His lawyer:
      Robert Harrison & Assoc
      2550 S Telegraph Rd # 275
      Bloomfield Hills, MI
      248-253-1800
    • Info from phone.people.yahoo.com:
      Alan Ralsky
      5016 Patrick Rd
      West Bloomfield , MI (248) 661-3355
      West Bloomfield , MI (248) 661-5166
    • His company "RX Point" info:
      Al Ralsky
      RX Point National Sales Director
      <al@rxpoint.com>

      RxPoint
      5016 Patrick Drive
      West Bloomfield, Mi 48322
      1-888-531-4793
      <info@rxpoint.com>
    • PO address from a Usenet posting from January:
      Alan Ralsky
      PO Box 89
      Fort Smith, AR 72903
    • Some book that he sure would like to read [amazon.com]
    • A less probable address someone suggested:
      Birmingham
      836 Mohegan St., $740,000 (price of the house)
      MI 48009-5667

    All of this information was taken from publically available Internet sites.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Friday December 06, 2002 @07:06PM (#4829673) Homepage

    I have one question for Alan Ralsky: why do you spammers never remove the email addresses that bounce back? Since my mail servers get your junk mailed over and over and over to email addresses which represent supposed users that have never even existed, it's clear you don't make any attempt whatsoever to clean your lists of bounces. Spam is theft, and this makes it clear that it is willful. Maybe we slashdotters should be asking the Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney's Office [oakland.mi.us] to pursue criminal theft charges.

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Friday December 06, 2002 @11:22PM (#4830899)
    I get a lot of SPAM snail-mail. It has begun to piss me off. Here is what I do now: Know those postage-paid envelopes that come with offers for magazines, credit cards, and a million other things you don't need or want? I simply stuff the junk mail into those envelopes, seal 'em up and drop 'em in the mail. The company that sent them now has to pay for the postage. In other words, not only did they not make a sale, they had to pay postage and someone in the company is inconvenienced with their own junk mail. Imagine if this type of "fighting back" becomes widespread... Companies will actually waste lots of resources in separating the junk mail from the real reply mail and throwing it away.

    Things I have started doing recently include: Mixing up the junk mail so that, for example, Company A receives some junk from Companies B and C in the reply envelope. This way, it's not even useful to them as they cannot simply re-mail the returned items.

    One thing I intend to start doing in the future is partially filling out the forms that come with the materials I send back, but, for example, writing VOID where the signature is supposed to go or something. This way, someone will start entering data only to discover that it's bullshit... Or putting X's in all the little boxes and writing "Wasted your time!" Where the signature is supposed to go. Stuff like that. Oh yeah, I always rip my name and address off the documents so they don't know who's doing it. What a waste of time for that company! Hey, they wasted my time. I'm wasting their's back.

    (The fine print: I don't actually do any of what I just said I do. It's a joke. Don't take it seriously. Just leave me alone.)

  • Moving? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Friday December 06, 2002 @11:54PM (#4831039) Journal
    He's a question, what happens to some poor sucker when he moves out. I live in an apartment. The girl before me lived here for 2-3 years... but I'm getting mail addressed to somebody that is not me and not her.

    I have a feeling that this spam could persist past the spammer, being a serious annoying for anyone unfortunate enough to buy his house when he next moves.

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