If you or your church thinks that purchasing a list of email addresses or enlisting a bulk email service is a good way to advertise, please think again.
Back in November 22 of last year, Mike Wendland penned a shocking expose on the life of a spam king by he name of Alan Ralsky. It starts out by describing the opulant lifestyle purchased by irritating us with messages for online casinos and weight loss programs:
Alan Ralsky’s brand new 8,000-square-foot luxury home near Halsted and Maple in West Bloomfield has been a busy place this month. Outside, landscapers worked against the November cold to get a sprinkler system installed before the ground freezes. Inside, painters prepared to hang wallpaper …
… The computers in Ralsky’s basement control 190 e-mail servers — 110 located in Southfield, 50 in Dallas and 30 more in Canada, China, Russia and India. Each computer, he said, is capable of sending out 650,000 messages every hour — more than a billion a day — routed through overseas Internet companies Ralsky said are eager to sell him bandwidth.
Yeah, that’s comforting. Even more comforting is Ralsky’s background
“Ralsky acknowledges that his success with spam arose out of a less-than-impressive business background. In 1992, while in the insurance business, he served a 50-day jail term for a charge arising out of the sale of unregistered securities. And in 1994, he was convicted of falsifying documents that defrauded financial institutions in Michigan and Ohio and ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution.”
And just in case you thought that list you bought came from people who opt-ed in:
“Ralsky’s list man is named Charlie Brown. That’s his real name, he said, describing himself as a native of Louisiana who travels the country working as a consultant to bulk e-mailers, developing custom software called harvesting programs that constantly scour the Internet, gaining access to millions of Web sites and mailing lists every day in search of any and all e-mail addresses …
… Ralsky makes his money by charging the companies that hire him to send bulk e-mail a commission on sales. He sometimes charges just a flat fee, up to $22,000, for a single mailing to his entire database.
Get the picture yet? When you buy such a list, or enlist such a service, you run the risk of buying stolen goods. Worse, by your purchase, you help fund such activities. So while Ralsky claims not to solicit porn, there is nothing stopping others who practice the spam trade.