back to article Spam tool developer faces six years in chokey

A US software writer has pleaded guilty to developing a botnet-based spamming tool used by notorious spammer Alan Ralsky. David S Patton, 49, of Centreville, Virginia, faces up to six years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting breaches of the US CAN-SPAM Act in concert with Ralsky and others. Patton agreed to …


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  1. call me scruffy


    I'm impressed, the guy thought that he could develop software that would exploit other machines, and sell it on the open market? That really is amazing stupidity.

    Terminator icon, because when it comes to botnets you can't beat skynet.

  2. Benedict

    this is a title

    I'd like to what morons actually buy stock based on advice from an unsolicited, dodgy looking anonymous email?

    They deserve to lose all the money that have.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Benedict

    "I'd like to what morons actually buy stock based on advice from an unsolicited, dodgy looking anonymous email?"

    The same people that send money so that their friendly Nigerian General can move his suitcases of money out of the country.

    Or that think some internet shop is a better place to get medication than a licensed pharmacy.

    Or that talk in ALL CAPITALS whenever they post on forums.

  4. Phil 66
    Thumb Down

    That's a bit harsh

    Benedict: They deserve to lose all the money that have

    Do they? Do they really? It's hardly a crime to be stoopid. If we're gonna start penalising people for being a bit gullable, what would suggest as the penatly for being totally insensitive?

    No-one deserves to the victim of crime. After all, all they're really guilty of is that someone outwhitted them. I've no doubt you consider yourself to be bright and intelligent for the sake of argunment, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, but there's always someone more cunning and devious. Should you fall victim to a scam of considerable inginuity, you'll happily wave goodbye to your hard earned would you? After all, relativley speaking, you were a "moron."

  5. Neil 4


    Sounds to me like he just wrote the software. On that basis can we also jail the inventors MP3 format for making music easily copyable? Or Mssrs Smith & Wesson for the shooting of lots of people cos they sold guns?

  6. Anonymous Coward


    So this guy writes software. That "spoofs" the headers on E-Mails and uses proxies.

    This constitues a jail term?

    Since when did anything he do actually be illegal

  7. Anonymous Coward

    @Neil 4

    Spam is illegal, Botnets are illegal, so what makes you think writing software to send spam through botnets should be legal? He's not being tried for the crime of sending that mail, but for facilitating that crime.

    For what it's worth, yes Smith & Wesson should be prosecuted alongside every other gun manufacturer who sells their wares to the public.

  8. Blitheringeejit


    Is it harsh?

    It's not a *crime* to be stupid, but if someone knocks on your door and says "You don't know me, but if you give me twenty quid, I'll go away and come back in an hour with fifty quid for you", then surely you deserve to lose your twenty quid if they don't return as promised. You're not being *penalised* for stupidity, you're just being *allowed* to be stupid, and required to deal with the consequences of your actions.

    I always thought the concept of an endowment mortgage was clearly not viable in the long-term, and I'm now having my hard-earned taxes wasted on compensating people who were too dumb to work this out. And they weren't even the victims of a crime (in the sense that no-one's going to jail for mis-selling mortgages) - they were just given self-evidently bad advice, but couldn't be bothered to think about it hard enough to work out for themselves that it was bad advice.

    I worry about the underlying message - "If you're sensible, you'll end up footing the bill for everyone else's stupidity. But if you're stupid enough to buy something from a snake-oil seller, we'll make sure that you'll be compensated when it turns out to be snake-oil."

    Apart from the injustice, it hardly provides an incentive for everybody to get a bit smarter about how they spend their money.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    @neil 4

    For pity's sake.

    MP3 encoding is not in an of itself illegal and Handguns have sporting and defensive purposes (at least according to US law.) Software to exploit compromised machines is designed specifically to make unauthorised (and this case fraudulent) use of computer systems, this is illegal pretty much everywhere.

    Be careful you don't get hayfever from that strawman you're playing with. Troll alert because you're either a troll or a tard, FFS delete your pirate bay account before the sale goes through...

  10. WhatWasThat?

    Diamonds and Guns

    The crime he is being tried for is _not_ that he wrote software. The crime is _not_ that he wrote software that _might_ be used to violate the law. The crime is that he wrote software that he _marketed and sold with the intent to be used_ to violate the law. He then provided services to enable the software to circumvent anti-spam measures over time.

    Note here that it is not that software _could_ be used for crime, but that it was provided _to_ be used for crime. If software developers were prosecuted for something that _might_ be used, then the developers of FBI's "Carnivore"/CALA/etc would (or should) already be in the dock, eh?

    Trying to draw a correlation from this to encite prosecution against firearms manufacturers for making "guns that kill kids" that "sell their wares to the public", or automobile manufacturers for making "cars that kill kids" (teen speeding/joyrides) that "sell their wares to the public", or alcohol producers for making "distilled spirits that kill kids" (alcohol poisoning) that "sell their wares to the public", or whatever "cause" someone may be on is clearly looking to dodge personal responsibility for personal actions.

    The point is that people are responsible for their actions and no amount of moral pleading for short-sighted legislative punishments can or should change that. If society feels that you are not old enough to be responsible for your actions, then the person who _is_ responsible for your actions better watch/know what you are doing, eh?! If you do something wrong, you should, and will probably, get punished.

    Unless, of course, you make enough money to get out of it - like bankers, politicians, etc.

  11. Rolf Howarth
    Thumb Up

    Crime to write software?

    Whatever your thoughts on gun control, this guy behaved a lot more like someone who procures weapons and supplies them to hit men and bank robbers knowing full well that they'll be used to commit a crime, than the gun manufacturers who at least ostensibly have a legitimate business.

    It's also got nothing to do with whether people are stupid enough to fall for share scams or not. Deliberately forging email headers is FRAUD, and people who are involved in such forgery should be prosecuted accordingly.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    "I worry about the underlying message - "If you're sensible, you'll end up footing the bill for everyone else's stupidity. But if you're stupid enough to buy something from a snake-oil seller, we'll make sure that you'll be compensated when it turns out to be snake-oil.""

    Nobody's saying they'll be compensated - they're saying that the people who defrauded them will be punished.

    And when it comes down to it, if they reclaim some of the money, why not give it back to the victims? Your argument suggests that you would oppose returning stolen property to victims of theft if they were foolhardy enough to not lock their doors.

  13. Benedict

    @Phil 66

    I don't think I have superior intelligence, and I really dont think I'm being a snooty computer type. I've seen what stock spam looks like and if you believe that you are going to make money by acting on those types of emails then you have probably been had with pyramid schemes several times in the past.

    Hell, I'd believe before I believed stock spam.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >"I don't think I have superior intelligence"

    I think you're lying there. You're in the right place for people who think they're better than everyone else though.

    >"and I really dont think I'm being a snooty computer type"

    Well, like so many others here you are. You've been a malicious arse and someone's pointed it out. Just accept that they're right, move on and shut up. (Apologies to the mods if getting rid of lying, malicious chest-thumping types would leave you with very few messages to work with.)

  15. Nameless Faceless Computer User
    Thumb Down

    Lock 'em up

    Give 'em 20 years hard labor or the option to have all of his fingers chopped off.

  16. Benedict


    Damn, you got me, I know I have superior intelligence really (after all I am reading elreg). And you're right, there is nothing I enjoy more than a good chest beating after berating the techno-peons.

    Tootles, lord Benedict.

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