The feds have dethroned another "spam king," who, like the ones before him, will spend a little bit of time behind bars. Alan Ralsky, 63, pleaded guilty to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and to violating the federal CAN-SPAM Act.
What landed Ralsky in hot water was allegedly sending out unsolicited email to jack up the price of penny stock in Chinese companies to artificially high prices, and then selling it. Ralksy's Internet stock scheme netted him $2.7 million, as well as the attention of the feds and ultimately a 4-year prison sentence.
"With today's sentence of the self-proclaimed 'Godfather of Spam,' Alan Ralsky, and three others who played central roles in a complicated stock spam pump and dump scheme, the court has made it clear that advancing fraud through abuse of the Internet will lead to several years in prison," said U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg. "I commend the FBI, the Postal Inspection Service, and the IRS Criminal Investigative Division for their determined and careful investigation in this case which led to today's result."
Ralsky, who pleaded guilty back in June of this year, may have gotten off a little light, as he faced up to 7 years in prison.
We know exactly how popular Twitter has grown, but never did we consider that anyone could be arrested for not using the microblogging service. Apparently that's a real possibility, as teenager singer Justin Bieber and his entourage found out.
Bieber was supposed to appear at the Roosevelt Field mall on Friday, but decided to keep his distance because the crowd was getting a bit too rowdy. When the police showed up, they asked James A. Roppo, a record label exec, to help clear out the crowd by sending a Twitter message, and then arrested him after claiming he didn't cooperate, Newsday reports.
"We asked for his help in getting the crowd to go away by sending out a Twitter message," said Kevin Smith, Nassau County Police Det. Lt. "By not cooperating with us we feel he put lives in danger and the public at risk."
In a radio interview, Bieber said the scene was "so crazy" that he couldn't make his way into the building, adding that the authorities had threatened to put in him handcuffs and haul him off to jail.
Roppo could face charges that include criminal nuisance, endangering the welfare of a minor, and obstructing government administration, Smith said.
It's been a wild and crazy six year run for the The Pirate Bay, the world's most popular torrent tracking site, but by all accounts, it looks as though TPB's founders are finally ready to quit sailing through legal waters and have decided to bring the torrent tracker to port.
"Now that the decentralized system for finding peers is so well developed, TPB has decided that there is no need to run a tracker anymore, so it will remain down! It's the end of an era, but the era is no longer up2date. We have put a server in a museum already, and now the tracking can be put there as well," the ever-defiant Pirate Bay bandits wrote in a blog entry.
At its peak, TPB helped coordinate the downloads of more than 25 million peers, but it's no secret that many of those were illicit downloads for everything from pirated movies and television shows, to cracked videogames and closed-source operating systems, particularly Windows. Earlier this year, TPB's legal troubles culminated in a high profile court case in which a Swedish judge ultimately sentenced the torrent tracking site's four founders to a year in jail and ordered them to pay 30 million krono ($3.6 million) to a handful of entertainment companies.
Hit the jump to find out what TPB's founders are up to next.
3Com's board of directors and the company's shareholders appear to be at odds over a proposed $2.7 billion merger agreement with HP that was announced last week. Displeased with the potential merger, the shareholders have filed a class action lawsuit in hopes of preventing the deal.
The complaint names the entire company's board of directors and accuses the defendants of attempting to deceive 3Com shareholders by agreeing to a deal that undermines the true value of their investment in the company, TechCrunch reports.
Under terms of the agreement, HP would pay stockholders of 3Com $7.90 per share, but the bankruptcy lawyer who filed the case on behalf of the plaintiffs argues that 3Com's directors should have insisted on a higher price.
Ten years ago, the phrase "Where's my pancakes" wouldn't be nearly enough to get a robbery suspect off the hook. Even 6 years ago it wouldn't have worked. But that's only because Facebook was no where to be see. What are we talking about?
Rodney Bradford, a 19-year-old resident of the Farragut Houses, was arrested on October 18th for a robbery that took place the day before. His alibi? A status update on Facebook on October 17, at 11:49AM, from a computer in his father's apartment in Harlem, asking about his pancakes.
"This is the first case that I'm aware of in which a Facebook update has been used as alibi evidence," said John Browning, a lawyer and member of the Dallas Bar Association who studies social networking and the law. "We are going to see more of that because of how prevalent social networking has become."
The charges against Bradford where dropped when Facebook verified that the update, which occurred during the time of the robbery, originated from his dad's PC. Of course, this begs the question of how anyone can be sure that it was Bradford who typed the message, and not someone else.
"This implies a level of criminal genius that you would not expect from a young boy like this; he is not Dr. Evil," said defense lawyer Robert Reuland, adding that the Facebook entry was just "icing on the cake" since Bradford had other alibis.
But what about in other cases? With Facebook for the first time being used as an alibi, we wouldn't be surprised to see this type of defense being employed more often, including by those who really are guilty.
Where do you see this headed? Hit the jump and sound off!
Talk about vindication. AMD waited a long time for this day and took a lot of heat from the Intel faithful, but the chip maker finally got it was looking for: a huge settlement.
Finally putting to rest the longstanding antitrust dispute, Intel and AMD announced today a settlement agreement in which Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion, as well as agree to "abide by a set of business practice provisions." In return, AMD will drop all pending litigation and withdraw all of its regulatory complaints worldwide.
"While the relationship between the two companies has been difficult in the past, this agreement ends the legal disputes and enables the companies to focus all of our efforts on product innovation and development," the chip makers said in a joint statement.
The dispute dates back to 2004 when AMD filed a case accusing Intel of unfair business practices that entailed snuffing the smaller chip maker out. Intel allegedly offered sizable rebates to key vendors in exchange for either dealing exclusively with Intel, or delaying the launch of AMD products.
While AMD has agreed to take its money and run, Intel might not be out of hot water completely. The settlement doesn't prevent governments from initiating antitrust cases against Intel.
A well known Bavarian actor by the name of Walter Sedlmayr was murdered in 1990. Two of his associated were tried and convicted of the crime. These men were recently paroled, and one of them is none too pleased that anyone can read all about him on the internet. He has retained a lawyer and has sued Wikipedia in Germany, and is also making noise about suing the English language version.
This all comes back to German law, which holds that private citizens should have their names and likenesses protected. The ex-convict is making the argument that while he may have been a public figure during the trial, he isn’t anymore. He wants the Sedlmayr page censored to remove all mention of him.
The EFF is strongly opposed to the possibility of censoring Wikipedia at the behest of a convicted murderer (or anyone for that matter). They point out that is it impossible for all publications to abide by the censorship laws of any legal system. The U.S. First Amendment protects this sort of speech, but how far will the German lawyers try to take this?
It's all fun and games, until that game you downloaded from the iTunes App Store turns out to be harvesting your cell phone number. That's what gaming developer Storm8 has been accused of doing.
"The wireless telephone numbers of users' phones are not used or necessary to play any of Storm8's games, yet Storm8 has written the software for all its games in such a way that it automatically accesses, collects, and transmits the wireless telephone number of each iPhone user who downloads any Storm8 game," states a lawsuit filed on behalf of Lynwood, Washington resident Michael Turner.
Storm8 first came under fire in late August when news reports pointed out that Storm8's apps appeared to be phoning home. Addressing the reports, the company said the system had a "bug" and that it has since been fixed. But Storm8's explanation isn't enough for Turner's lawyer, who says his goal is to ensure the company is no longer allowed to collect private data in the future.
"A public admission is not the same as a legal representation or legal injunction," Turner's lawyer said.
It seems like everywhere Intel turns it's being sued over alleged antitrust violations. The latest lawsuit comes from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who claims Intel threatened computer makers and made a series of illegal payments to coerce them into using its chips. In other words, the same accusations AMD has been harping about for a good many years now.
"Rather than compete fairly, Intel used bribery and coercion to maintain a stranglehold on the market," Cuomo said in a statement. "Intel's actions not only unfairly restricted potential competitor, but also hurt average consumers who were robbed of better products and lower prices."
Intel has faced similar lawsuits earlier in the year, and in May, the European Commission hammered Intel with a record $1.45 billion fine for antitrust violations. Intel is currently appealing the ruling.
The latest lawsuit is significant because it's the first formal antitrust action against Intel by any government agency in the U.S. in more than a decade, the New York Times reports. Intel has been under investigation by the FTC since 2008, but that hasn't led to any formal proceedings.
"These are separate investigations, but it would be very surprising for New York Sate to go off on its own without being fairly confident the FTC would pursue Intel as well," a person familiar with the state's investigation told NYT.
Verizon thought they were so clever. Big Red’s recent “There’s a map for that” adverts seem to have ruffled some feathers over at AT&T. Now AT&T has filed a federal lawsuit against Verizon for false advertising. The issue comes down to the maps shown in the commercial.
The ad compares 3G coverage areas for the two wireless providers side by side. The red Verizon map, of course, looks much more filled in. AT&T’s map looks sparse by comparison. What many less savvy consumers might not follow is that this is only showing AT&T’s 3G, not EDGE. While Verizon’s entire network is 3G, AT&T still has significant areas covered only by slower EDGE service. AT&T claims that the ad leads people to believe that AT&T does not have coverage at all in the un-highlighted areas.
Indeed, the original version of the ad said that AT&T users outside the highlighted area were “out of touch”. Verizon removed that line and noted that non-3G voice and data were available, but AT&T still wasn’t happy. It’s not really an enviable position for AT&T to be in. They have to argue that Verizon should be making it clear that the AT&T network is available in more places – it’s just very, very slow. Everyone settle in, this might be entertaining.