22 August 2002
Spammer, email thyself

Today's spam originated in Australia, where evidently they cut the crap and get to the point:

"You get emails every day, offering to show you how to make money. Most of these emails are from people who are NOT making any money.

"And they expect you to listen to them?"

Of course, I'm expected to listen to this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:45 AM)
8 September 2002
Fried spam

The email began, like so many others, with this:

DO NOT DELETE THIS READ FIRST IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

By the time I get through with it, the sender will wish I had deleted it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:13 PM)
6 October 2002
Pop go the weasels

When two different Web sites give you the same bogus YOU ARE THE 10,000,000TH VISITOR TO THIS WEBSITE popup, the most generous interpretation possible is that someone can't count worth squat. Zeldman has had over ten million, and probably so has Glenn Reynolds, but neither of them have indicated that they feel compelled to sell me crap.

Being the diligent soul I am, I followed up this link, which goes to something called qualypromos.com (cripes, even Streisand can spell better than that), a front for some Florida vacation spot. The domain is registered to one David Randall; I mention this in case I see some of his handiwork again, in which case I hope to be alert enough to offer a cross-reference.

In the meantime, I'm about two months away from my 200,000th visitor. Legitimately, yet.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:29 PM)
26 October 2002
The free-market approach?

Today's spam has just the right amount of shamelessness. It emanates from 200.195.239.220, misidentified (of course) as hotbot.com, and which is duly enshrined at SpamCop.

And the text? Get this:

Don't even think about paying for porn on the net! What's the matter with you? Why are all you new surfers on the net running around with your credit cards and paying for porn?

Don't you see that by paying for porn it ruins it for all of us who get it for free?

Normally, this sort of thing sets off my TANSTAAFL alert, but since I don't frequent porn sites — I once had one of those one-year pass things, which I used two or three times to peer at some grainy Victorian erotica or some such stuff, but I let it expire, and anyway this wasn't sent to the email address I used — I consider it more of a mere curiosity. Not enough of a curiosity to induce me to click on the proffered link, though, which apparently leads back to a site hosted at DialNil.com, a Minnesota Web host which may not know that it's leasing space to someone who's, um, giving it away.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:43 PM)
28 October 2002
Incoming!

Occasionally I have posted spam I've received, sometimes here in the log, sometimes in The Vent. I get a lot of it, but probably no more than most people, and certainly less than, say, Saddam Hussein.

As Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:37 PM)
9 November 2002
Baked beans are off

Today's spam, claimed to be from the dubious address <zondervan2227e82@yahoo.com>, is fairly standard pornucopia effluent, with invitations and links to <3xgirl.com>, <sinfulmpegs.com> and <glamoursluts.com>, all of which are herded together along with God knows what else under the general heading of <servergod.com>, operated by one Robert Sudduth in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, a regular visitor to the database at SpamCop.

Most perturbing, perhaps, is that "zondervan" in the bogus email address. The real Zondervan is a legitimate publisher of, among other things, Bibles; I guess Sudduth figures nobody will set a spam filter for the word.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:20 PM)
7 December 2002
Fresh spammage

Today's spam is claimed to come from one Jennifer Hawkings, at the dubious address of <sandrasaga@mail.com>. The ostensible Ms. Hawkings says:

Browsing through the CNN website I came across this CNN article which seems to be about you:

http://www.cnn.com:USArticle1840@www.liquidshirts.com/

Believe me, there isn't a chance in hell that anything ever covered by CNN has the slightest thing to do with me; I am completely unknown even at home. And, of course, the trick is in the proffered URL: anything before that @ is parsed as a password/user-ID combination (for use, for instance, with Web-based FTP), and the browser actually travels to liquidshirts.com, a domain belonging to Carlberg Grafix, Inc. of Springfield, Illinois, an institution which is not known to be a provider of information to CNN, but which is known to be a provider of printed novelty items such as T-shirts and, um, toilet paper.

At least it's not a porn operation. And "Jennifer", dear, while I appreciate the clever touch of designating Sun's iPlanet Messenger Express, a Web-based product, as the mailer, you really didn't have to go to the trouble of routing this little bit of spam through Russia, the Netherlands and Japan.

Then again, given the general resentment of spam by US-based ISPs, maybe you did.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:12 PM)
18 December 2002
Somewhere a mixed marriage

The latest trend in spam, it seems, is to insert a name in the FROM: field that looks almost believable, with the hope that the recipient, seeing that it's not from farginggibberish@fakeisp.com, might actually look at it before hitting Delete.

I said "almost". Today in my Hotmail box, which I use mostly for spam collection, was the usual item about how to leverage Euro currency (which is probably no more believable than that "World Currency Cartel" stuff), ostensibly from a fellow named, um, Mohammad Schlottman.

Methinks their name-generating algorithm needs a little tweaking.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:04 PM)
5 March 2003
The return of Jennifer Hawkings

When last we heard from the pseudonymous Ms Hawkings, she was trying to promote a Web site that sold T-shirts by persuading the unwary that somehow they'd been mentioned by CNN. I disposed of that notion quickly enough, but she's had almost three months to recuperate, and now she's back with a new, um, deal.

This time at <jhawkings@martsgroup.com>, which seems to be based in Moscow, she's pitching a list. And not just any list, either:

Our company possesses several business email lists which allow to contact commercial websites and companies offering their products and services on the Internet. These B2B email lists could be a perfect source for gaining many new clients for your company. Please take a moment to review the lists we have. The segregation is performed by the source where the websites/companies are listed:

1. 258,000 Companies from Yahoo's business directory:
http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Shopping_and_Services/
http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Business_to_Business/

2. 208,000 Companies from Google's business directory:
http://directory.google.com/Top/Shopping/
http://directory.google.com/Top/Business/

I don't do B2B, being neither B nor B, but regardless, I fail to see the value of this service; I can click on those links just as easily as "Jennifer Hawkings" can.

And in fact, I tend to think that this is not the same person as before; this seems like part of an effort to create a fictional spokesperson for spamdom, the email equivalent of Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima or Alfred E. Neuman. And hey, who knows? Maybe someday, instead of being spammed, you'll be jennifered. Who — excepting perhaps Simon Lamont — could possibly object?

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:49 AM)
24 March 2003
Block that spam!

Phil Goldman says you get too much spam, which is almost certainly true, and he's going to do something about it, for a small fee.

Goldman's new Mailblocks service incorporates a so-called "Challenge/Response" mode. If you're sending mail to a Mailblocks user and you're not in that user's address book, the mail is not delivered until (1) you receive an auto-generated message from Mailblocks and (2) you reply with the authentication code included in that message. Spammers, of course, don't reply, since they sent out a bogus reply address to begin with and therefore will not receive the authentication code. Once in your recipient's address book, you can send mail with no interruptions.

Mailblocks also permits aliases which will allow computer-generated mail that is wanted — mailing lists, newsletters, e-commerce confirmations and the like — to pass through without challenge.

Undelivered mail is held in "quarantine" for two weeks and then automatically deleted; the recipient can inspect it at any time. Mailblocks supports both POP3 and IMAP, regular email clients or Web-based mail.

This service has only been up and running for a few hours, so I can't tell you how well it works. But for a mere ten bucks a year (twenty-five bucks for four times the storage space), it may be hard to resist.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:13 AM)
10 April 2003
Thoroughly hosed

Spammers are nothing if not indiscriminate; the turgid spew that constitutes the average penis-enlargement ad is bestowed more or less equally upon those who own a version of the organ in question and upon those who do not. This could perhaps be explained away as nondiscriminatory — we are all wangs, says Frank J. — but it strikes me as somewhat profligate: half of this advertising, in true John Wanamaker style, is wasted.

The latest of these annoyances popped into my mailbox with the usual pitch, an origin somewhere in Brazil (and a bogus "remove" address that appeared to be German), and the tag: "Bigger than Shaq's!" Now I know the NBA is overrun with bombast and boastfulness, but I don't recall ever seeing a reference to the dimensions of Li'l Shaquille. Is this something of renown that I've missed, or should I start pestering Snopes about it?

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:00 PM)
23 April 2003
Getting a handle on spam

The new Oklahoma anti-spam law, signed yesterday by Governor Henry, strikes me as relatively toothless. It does prohibit spoofing email or Web addresses, and it does require ads to state that they are ads in the subject lines — porn ads must contain the string ADV-ADULT — but until there are provisions to hunt down spammers and disembowel them on streaming video, there will be little or no effect on the state's email users.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:05 AM)
26 April 2003
Next: Armed Robbers Support Group

An operation called EMarketersAmerica.org (dot org?) is suing antispam groups, charging that they harass legitimate businesses.

Max Power reports that he went looking for a copy of the complaint at the group's Web site, but "it's been shut down for spam violations."

Imagine that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:25 AM)
2 May 2003
Blade running

As of last night (two deleted, one added), I have twenty-three spam filters working on my incoming mail; their success ratio is somewhere between not much and zilch, but any spam I don't have to look at counts as a very minor moral victory.

The email provider for this domain recently installed a server-level despamming system called Vipul's Razor, which is supposed to catch the varmints before they reach my POP3 box. I set it up last night for my primary mailbox, and it caught fifteen of twenty-seven before I was able to provide it any feedback. Not too bad. Better, there were no false positives: nothing I actually wanted was misidentified as spam.

I'll leave this in place for a while and see if it's sufficient, or if I need to go to a more activist, locally-based system like MailFrontier's Matador.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:57 AM)
15 May 2003
Attempted thievery

So why would eBay, which knows me perfectly well, from my user ID to my 123 positive feedback points — not too shabby for someone who's never sold anything — need to know my password?

Which is by way of introducing you to today's spam, which was a lame attempt to steal said password, titled "Security Check." (yes, with the period), and swiping eBay graphics in an attempt to look legit. Had I filled in the blanks as requested, this information would have been posted to a page at a domain called memenutza.com, ostensibly owned by one Michael Rafter of Denver.

I have, of course, notified eBay; I'm passing this on to the rest of you in case the culprit has a fistful of blogger names.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:38 PM)
23 May 2003
California vs. spam

The antispam bill passed by the California Senate yesterday allows recipients to sue spammers for $500 per incident.

Like anyone is going to collect anything from the likes of cqpmi838@atrxpwqph.cxm, an address pulled at random from my dizzying array of Hotmail spam.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:14 AM)
25 May 2003
Attempted thievery, Part Deux

I reported earlier this month about a lame email attempt to steal my eBay user ID and password. Now comes word from The Register that a similar scam has arisen with the intent of swiping personal information from users of eBay subsidiary PayPal. The email apparently originated in Lithuania.

I caught one minor glitch with The Register's report: they state that "one fake PayPal message spotted in the wild last month misspelled the word 'address' and included a disclaimer from the credit card company Providian, which has no link to PayPal or eBay." Actually, Providian is the issuer of a PayPal-branded Visa card, promoted heavily at the PayPal site; I cut up one of them this very afternoon.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:42 PM)
29 May 2003
Tomb, vacant, nothing down

Marc at Quit That! is getting spam from Christ, or at least that's what the FROM: field says. The usual "get hundreds of lenders to compete for your mortgage loan" stuff.

Now if he gets one of those damnable penis-enlargement ads from this same source around the Feast of the Circumcision, then I'm going to worry.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 PM)
8 June 2003
Nailing spammers

Eric Scheie at Classical Values proposes this modest solution to the problem of email spam:

Spammers could simply be crucified along the highways, just the way the Romans did it. As in the good old days of public crucifixions along the Via Appia, here the modern Al Gore Information Superhighway could be seamlessly linked to live crucifixions via strategic web cams, viewable at anti-spam websites, where we could watch the spammers die (and other spammers could witness the fates of their comrades). What a deterrent!

A real "Pilate Program!"

Needless to say, no libertarian would seriously propose that the government get involved in such cruel punishments (which obviously violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution), and I am not doing that. Let's keep it in the private sector where it belongs. Spammers flooded the world with shoddy advertisements during their lives, and it is only fair that their deaths be advertising spectacles — the tackier the better! "Your corporate message and logo HERE! on THIS CROSS!" (Buy as many crosses as you can afford!) "Another spammer nailed courtesy of SnuffNet.com!" Securely fastened with "Palm Pilate" brand "finishing nails" — as seen on the Internet!