Have you seen “Scared Straight?” Federal prison sucks. It’s supposed to suck; you don’t want to make life easy for mobsters and murderers like Al Capone, The Son of Sam, “Machine Gun” Kelly, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer and The Green River Killer when you send them to the clink to keep them from further harming the public. One unlucky pirate is going to find out firsthand just how crappy prison is, after a judge ordered 49 year old Gilberto Sanchez to a year in the federal slam for uploading X-Men: Wolverine to MegaUpload before the film's release.
Those yellow and orange 'Get Out of Jail Free' cards from Monopoly don't actually exist in real life, but for more than 450 inmates at a California prison with "a high risk of violence," they didn't need one. A computer error allowed them to walk free on "non-revocable parole," meaning they're not required to check in with parole officers and will only be put back behind bars if they're caught committing a crime.
A 27-year-old Venezuelan convicted of pillaging and subsequently reselling more than 10 million VoIP minutes has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Edwin Pena's VoIP bootlegging operation depended on good old brute force attacks for its success, of which he and his accomplices had plenty, managing to force their way through more than 15 networks belonging to various telecom and VoIP companies.
Pena used compromised networks to reroute VoIP calls he sold to businesses at heavily discounted prices. His unsuspecting clients took his operation for a legitimate business. Before he became the first man to be indicted by U.S. authorities for VoIP hacking, he had robbed his victims of more than $1.4 million.
Okpako Mike Diamreyan, a 31-year-old citizen of Nigeria, was sentenced to 151 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release by United States District Judge Janet C. Hall for his role in an Internet "advanced fee" scam.
"The dependent and his accomplices preyed on vulnerable victims in Connecticut, the United States, and around the world, leaving many individuals and their families in financial ruin," stated U.S. Attorney Fein. "The lengthy prison term imposed today should send a strong message to others who intent to commit similar crimes -- we will pursue these cases wherever they lead us and bring you to justice. I want to single out the DCIS and their agents who worked this case tirelessly and thoroughly and helped achieve justice for victims."
According to U.S. officials, Diamreyen ran his operation from August 2004 through August 2009 by sending out emails claiming he had a consignment stored in Ghana. He told his victims the loot was worth anywhere from $11.5 million to $23.4 million and offered them a 20 percent cut if they'd help him transfer the money to the U.S.
The scheme worked at least 67 times, netting Diamreyan more than $1.3 million. Diamreyen was also ordered to pay a little over $1 million in restitution.
Officially, it's called the Assault Intervention Device, and what it does is fire off a focused, non-lethal beam of energy at the target, which in this case will be inmates trading blows with each other. But even though it's not a deadly laser, prison officers describe the sensation as "excruciatingly painful."
"We hope that this type of technology will either cause an inmate to stop an assault or lessen the severity of an assault by them being distracted by the pain as a result of the beam," said Bob Osborne, Commander of the Sheriff's Department of Technology Exploration Program. "I equate it to opening an oven door and feeling that blast of hot air, except instead of being all over me, it's more focused.
"And you begin to feel this warming feeling, and then you go 'Yow, I need to get out of the way,'" Osborne added.
Plans are in place to mount the device on the ceiling at Pitches Detention Center at Los Angeles County Jail, home to some 65 convicts.
"This device will allow us to quickly intervene without having to enter the area and without incapacitating or injuring either combatant," said Sheriff Lee Baca in a statement.
Had 45-year-old Barry Ardolf, an accused hacker living in Minnesota, been on an episode of "Deal or No Deal," the audience would have been screaming for him to take the deal. Only in this case, Howie Mandel was no where to be seen and the stakes were decidedly higher.
The deal was for 2 years in prison in connection to charges accusing him of hacking into a neighbor's computer and using it to send Vice President Joe Biden a threatening email. His lawyer said the decision to reject the plea "was a difficult one," and those words may come back to haunt Ardolf.
According to authorities, Ardolf now faces up to 20 years in prison after additional charges were tacked on. He's looking at up to 10 years for two child-porn accusations, and five years each for two hacking charges.
Ardolf is currently out on $25,000 bail with the conditions that he be denied Internet access and must surrender his electronic devices, including his iPhone.
Alan Ralsky, a West Bloomfield, Michigan native, has pleaded guilty to allegations of wire and mail frauds, money laundering, and of violating the CAN-SPAM Act. As a result, Raslky faces up to 7 years in prison.
"Alan Ralsky was at one time the world's most notorious illegal spammer," said U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg. "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 email advertisements to pump up Chinese 'penny' stocks and then reap profits by using trades in these same stocks while others bought at the inflated price."
In addition to duping recipients with falsified emails, the conspirators used software that made their messages hard to track, used illegal methods to get around spam blockers, falsified headers, and used proxy computers to relay the spam and falsely registered domain names, according to the Department of Justice. Their efforts reportedly brought in over $3 million.
While many of cases are still spending, Scott Bradley, Ralsky's 38-year-old son-in-law, pleaded guilty to the same charges and faces up to 78 months in prison and $1 million fine. John Brown, 45, of Fresno California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, and conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Brown faces up to 63 months in prison and $75,000 fine. William Neil, 46, also of Fresno, California, and James Fite, 36, of Culver City, California, both pleaded guilty in the case. They, along with everyone else involved, will be sentenced on October 29, 2009.
Timothy Kyle Dunaway, a Texas-based software pirate, who had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of criminal copyright violation, has been handed a 41-month jail term by a US District Judge. His clandestine network included 40 websites hosted on servers based in Austria and Malaysia.
He is said to have sold pirated business software through these websites. His activities are estimated to have cost $1 million to software authors.
Not only has he been ordered to pay $810,257 in damages, but the court has also sequestered two of his most cherished belongings, a Ferrari 348 TB and a Rolex watch. After being unnoticed for four prolific years, his business eventually came on the government’s radar screen in May 2008.
Unlike other kings, spam king Edward "Eddie" Davidson decided that he didn’t like his new royal domain at the minimum-security federal prison in Florence, Colorado. After serving five weeks of his 21 month sentence his Royal ‘Spamness’ hopped a ride with his wife when she came to visit.
"He jumped in the car with his wife," said Will Cochenour with Lakewood police. "When they were leaving, he forced her in the car, brought them home and left after a change in clothing.” Davidson was last seen Sunday afternoon in his wife's 2006 silver Toyota Sequoia.
Davidson's Power Promoters spamming network promoted junk between 2002 and 2005, gumming up inboxes everywhere.
The U.S. Marshals are leading the search, with help from FBI, IRS and the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force. This time however they are sure not to take him back to Club Fed, but somewhere with a bit more security, and you can bet he’ll be in for a longer stretch of time too. This is providing that one of his spammed subjects doesn’t run into him first and tar and feather him. While this would make it a great disguise, it is sure to remove hair coming off (ouch).
If you are out looking for the spam king, be sure to imagine him without his royal accoutrements as pictured below.