WASHINGTON-- A Hong Kong resident and three other men, including the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Spam," were sentenced to prison on Monday for their roles in an email stock fraud scheme, the Justice Department said.
The sentences, ranging from 32 to 51 months in prison, were handed down by US District Judge Marianne Battani in federal court in Detroit, the department said in a statement.
How Wai John Hui, 51, a resident of Hong Kong and Canada, was sentenced to 51 months in prison for wire fraud, money laundering and conspiring to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and to violate the Spam Act, it said.
Hui, the former chief executive of a company called China World Trade, was sentenced to three years of supervised release following his prison term and agreed to forfeit 500,000 dollars to the United States, it said.
Alan Ralsky, 64, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, and his son-in-law, Scott Bradley, 48, also of West Bloomfield, were sentenced to 51 months and 40 months in prison respectively on the same charges.
John Bown, 45, of Fresno, California, was sentenced to 32 months in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and to violate the Spam Act and conspiring to commit computer fraud, the Justice Department said.
"Today's sentencing sends a powerful message to spammers whose goal is to manipulate financial transactions and the stock market through illegal email advertisements," said assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer.
"People who use fraudulent emails to drive up stock prices and reap illicit profits will be prosecuted, and they will face significant prison time," Breuer said.
FBI special agent Andrew Arena said Ralsky, the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Spam," flooded email boxes with unwanted spam email and attempted to use a botnet to hijack computers to assist them in the scheme.
A botnet is a network of computers infected by malicious software.
According to court documents, the conspirators used spam emails to manipulate thinly traded stocks between January 2004 and September 2005.
They would profit by trading in the stocks once their share prices increased on purchases by recipients of the spam emails.