I found out about this story yesterday while reading a paper from the proceedings of INFOCOM from a couple of years ago. Despite being an old movie, I thought it was very interesting and funny, so I am going to briefly shared it here.

Alan Ralsky is a man from Michigan that, after his licenses to sell insurance were revoked in Michigan and Illinois in 1996, started making money by – literally – spamming people. According to multiple experts, Mr. Ransky was – he is in jail now – one of the main sources of junk mail and spam in the world. He allegedly sent over 1 billion emails per day – 1 American billion, with 9 zeros, not one European billion with 12 zeros… this made me think that someday I should talk about the unit differences between America, UK and some others versus the rest of the world that uses the international system, and how once a joint NASA-ESA mission crashed a mars-roamer against Mars due to a bad conversion -.

The funny part of the story comes when, in 2002, he conceded an interview to the Detroit News. The interview was posted on Slashdot along with the address of his newly built home. Hundreds of Slashdot readers then searched the Internet for advertising mailing lists and free catalogs and signed him up for them. As a result, he was flooded with junk mail. In a Detroit Free Press article on December 6, 2002, he is quoted as saying “They’ve signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is. These people are out of their minds. They’re harassing me”.

Ironic and very funny. I would have done the same.