September 05, 2002
I've "caught" a spammer

I've "caught" a spammer red handed. Well.. Let me explain:

I got so fed up with the spam that kept slipping through SpamAssassin that I dug out information about the owners and operators of one of the websites that was being marketed in the spam.

I found their database provider, I found the names of the people involved and even the cell phone#s of the guys running the various companies (and more, none of which, of course, was announced through their respective webpages).

I made a few phone calls and presented myself as a freelance journalist (which is kind of what a weblogger is, right?) and I have gathered a lot of information, including contact info, dubious privacy policies, third-party information-harvesters selling on information to alleged customers, and more. I also have an appointment for a phone call with the manager/CEO(?) tomorrow.

What should I do? I'm toying with the idea of actually doing some further research and writing a proper article about it - not sure if some magazine or paper would pick it up or even if it's newsworthy? All feedback appreciated :-)

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Posted by: David Driver on September 5, 2002 03:23 AM

Thanks for your opinion, David, but admittedly, I was thinking of something more like writing a decent Wired/Salon-style article and try to have it published somewhere... Thoughts? Would it be newsworthy? What would be a better pitch - an "exposure"-style article vs some digging into the spamming industry?

Posted by: andersja on September 5, 2002 03:44 AM

Do the article as professionally as possible.

Posted by: gomer pyle on September 5, 2002 04:05 AM

Heh, sue them for every e-mail they sent you after your investigation. They are most likely con artists living in a different state. And you can easily win a claims suite if they don't show >:)

Posted by: Tyrran on September 5, 2002 04:19 AM

Post all the contact information on your web log!! Would love to know their home address, office address, licence number, licence plate number, Photo's. Their ISP's name. Their are many people who would love to show them what it is like to be spam slammed. Hell Would be easy to have the library of congress arrive on their door step. Just venting.

Posted by: southpaw on September 5, 2002 05:32 AM

I say sign-up the Bastards for all the free porn you can find.

Posted by: Spanky on September 5, 2002 06:08 AM

Do the interview find out as much as u can about how the process of spamming works from beginning to end. Then write your article send it in to as many news sites/papers and email it to tv news stations in reguards to how spamming works and how to protect yourself from it. ;)

Posted by: Tiger on September 5, 2002 08:28 AM

I say do more research, find out more about the company, policies, mission statement.....and then go public with it. I'm sure someone would pick it up. If you approach it from the side of a spam victim, helpless against the onslaught of UNWANTED e-mail, someone will find that interesting to see how you dealt with it. Maybe readers will see fit to do what you are doing. Show that these companies need to start taking responsibility for flooding the internet, and our e-mailboxes with unwanted material and data!

Posted by: Edblor on September 5, 2002 08:45 AM

Do the interview. Like everyone else said, get some good info and pass it on tp the right people (TV, paper, FBI?). At the end let them know that if you rcv any more Spam you will retaliate by allowing us the little person to know their email addresses and we will retaliate. It's not Spam if it's from one person to one other person right? especially of there isn't anything in the body of the email.

Long live the fighters!

Posted by: Otheym on September 5, 2002 09:37 AM

i hate super massmailers spammers allways be filling my inbox.

me crie now. :(

Posted by: 8d on September 5, 2002 10:49 AM

If we're all against spamming, why don't we all volunteer our PCs to be dDoS zombies for some massive dDoS attack on the spammers.. let their ISP die a horrible death too, so that they'll never EVER host anymore spammer bastards.

Posted by: WJS on September 5, 2002 12:19 PM

I'm all for WJS' suggestion that we try to shut THEM down. Anyone that has to administer an email server (or even anyone that just has email) would probably gladly participate. We could start a list of places pimped in spam and then systematically ddos them out of existence. We could make spam an invitation to shut a website down.

Posted by: matt on September 5, 2002 02:38 PM

Um, keep it professional. Don't sink to their level. Get the whole goods - leave nothing unanswered ask some [hard] questions requiring some thought to answer. How would he feel if he had to admin. a flooded mail server?
If he can talk the talk let him...

Get some sort of admission as to the massmail campaign intentions....


Posted by: imafrk on September 5, 2002 04:00 PM

Expose them! Write a proper article! I know I'll link it. I can't stand spammers they have basically ruined Hotmail and AOL. On top of that they are a real pain in the *** for anyone trying to run an email server.

Posted by: Dale Medley on September 5, 2002 04:10 PM

I think doing a professional article is good, but once you are finished andhave it published, don't stop there doa follow up to se what the company's reaction is to your article and post every word that is said. Also at that time discuss with them their personal ethics and invasion of privacy of those which they sell information on, then offer to sell their info to other spam companies and se how they like it. Something tell me, their attitudes will change really quickly if they all of a sudden have their email servers full from 500 emails a hr with spam. I've learned being nice to guys like this gets you nowhere, but being disrespectful also gets you no where, What has to be done is they need to feel what everyone of us feels and untill they do they won't stop what they are doing.

Posted by: oscar on September 5, 2002 06:07 PM

The goal is to reduce spam?

1) Either contact a bunch of lawyers(interestingly international laws, French in particular can be pretty bad for spammers). Spawn as many lawsuits in as many country against them as possible with extremely motivated lawyers (let them get paid with 100% of the money that they can claim assuming NO settelements). The idea here is to put theses people out of business, get their car, their house, their cats & Dogs, have their kids placed (they should better be raised by someone with a minimum ethic anyway)...
Maybe this will scare a few others on the way...

2) Provide as many information as possible about them publicly (including picture) and let the public tell them what they think... Personally, I wouldn't mind subscribe them to every single piece of junk mail that I get...

Posted by: Stephane on September 5, 2002 08:17 PM

I think that maintaining professionalism in this effort is much more important than retaliation. Would dDos reduce us down to their level??
There are a good number computer news sites as well as the syndicated news corps that would love a story like this. Contacting the cable news shows probably wouldn't be a bad thing either.
And if the spammers refuse to follow up with you at a future time, I can think of a couple of cable news interview shows that would to help follow up on this.

Posted by: red-head geek on September 5, 2002 09:02 PM

Get them signed up to their own spam

Posted by: Ben on September 5, 2002 09:58 PM

I think we all know what the goals of spammers are.

How about a "personality profile" on the people who do the work that the rest of us despise. What got them into the business. What do they think of the ethics of the business. How do they feel about doing something everyone hates. Etc.

Oh yeah: then hang 'em high. :)

Posted by: Nevo on September 6, 2002 01:04 AM

a .45 and a shovel... that's all I have to say

Posted by: Ryan on September 6, 2002 09:04 AM

I've posted a follow-up + a "Howto" if you want to call a spammer too:

Posted by: andersja on September 6, 2002 11:34 AM

It would be nice for someone to actualy take spam seriusly its an offence to send it without an unsubscribe link but even after clicking all there unsubscribe links ime still in there dam lists :(

Posted by: Richard on December 7, 2003 12:14 AM
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