Spam

Articles about junk email and other mass, unsolicited annoyances.

Craig's List Spammer Audacity

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In my last article, I posted about a stupid spammer who scraped my email from Craig's List, but failed to setup their spamming tool properly. I've had additional posts to Craig's List since then, which means even more spam.

Today, I'd like to highlight a spam that stands out not for its stupidity, but its audacity.

To: sale-3phcj-xxxxxxxxxx [at] craigslist [dot] org
Subject: Re:Ranmaru 20-piece stoneware dinnerware set - $55 (north-central Austin)
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 07:52:14 -0500
From: averyfbvnv [at] aol [dot] com

Dear Subscriber,

Thanks for joining our craigslist phone marketing membership! In about
36 hours you'll start getting phone calls from Craigslist affiliates giving
few deals.

Maximum number of promotional calls every day as choosen by the
applicant - 43

Day hours choosen by the applicant to take calls- 12:30 AM - 3:00 AM austin

In case you wish to unsubscribe from the program
http://adremoval.co.cc.INVALID/

This will remove your number from the program so you won't face any phone
calls from craigslist partners again.

Many regards

Michael

Craig's List Spammer Fail

Spammers are idiots. Craig's List spammers are an especially stupid and annoying breed.

To: sale-yx2eq-xxxxxxxxxx [at] craigslist [dot] org
Subject: Re #CSVFIELD(3)#
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 17:03:38 -0500
From: loreanrhr [at] aim [dot] com

Hullo

I observed you live #CSVFIELD(2)#, I have a apartment there as well.

Anyway, I glanced at your post. Look, you do not have to be rid of #CSVFIELD(3)#.

See my weblog for better road to take.

Scan This Web Link To Read More.

Peace
Mike

I've got two current items listed on Craig's List: a computer and a wireless router. I assume this is in response to one of them.

The link in the message went to a Yahoo Search Pad page for "The Honest At Home Cash Method".

Virginia Anti-Spam Law Struck Down

Today, the Virginia Supreme Court struck down its state anti-spam law as unconstitutional.

The Virginia anti-spam law had significant impact, so this decision significantly weakens the defenses against spam. The law was one of the strongest in the nation. (It actually provided criminal penalties for the worst abuses.) Also, many of the large network providers (think AOL and Verizon) have network hubs there, so a lot of email communications were subject to it.

The case in question was brought against Jeremy Jaynes for his massive spam attack on AOL users. The mail passed through AOL mail servers located in Virginia, thus making them subject to Virginia state law.

An AP news article says:

The court unanimously agreed with Jeremy Jaynes' argument that the law violates the free-speech protections of the First Amendment because it does not just restrict commercial e-mails. Most other states also have anti-spam laws, and there is a federal CAN-SPAM Act as well.

The New Blog Spam

I recently wrote about the increase in manually generated blog spam I'm seeing, and the limitations of tools such as CAPTCHA for stopping it. Let me back up a bit to talk about what that spam looks like. I've got some examples to show you, for your amusement and irritation.

Blog spam is a comment posted to advertise a URL. (As opposed to a comment posted to advance the discussion.) Most blog spam is generated by bots. Bot-generated blog spam usually is obvious. When I see a comment with propecia, viagra, or Texas hold-em in the title, I know what to do with it.

As I noted in that previous post, I've found that a simple "math puzzle" ("what's 4 + 5?") is sufficient to stop the bot spam on my blog. (That may change as bots get more sophisticated.)

Spam Economics and CAPTCHA

Almost everybody hates spam, but the simple economics make it work. The costs to send spam are so low that payoff is achieved with a minuscule success rate. This applies not only to email spam, but also blog and web form spam.

The goal of conventional email spam is different than the goal of blog comment (and trackback) spam. Conventional spam is intended to lead to a direct sale. Follow the link in your email and buy some pills to increase your manhood. The primary goal of blog spam is not sales, but to increase the number of links to the spammer's web site. The blog spammer is trying to game the search engines. That's because search engines tend to treat web sites with more inbound links as popular and authoritative, and thus make them appear more prominently in result listings.

Democrats Mismanaged Email: Worse than I Thought

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The other day, I blogged about the bad mailing list practices at democrats.org. When you try to unsubscribe from their mailing list, they hold your request until you complete a verification process. That violates the CAN-SPAM law, which requires a one-click unsubscribe. What's worse, I never got the email messages containing the confirmation code, making it impossible to stop their mailings.

And now, the saga continues.

Democrats Email Opt-Out Violates CAN-SPAM

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The law of the land for sending mass email is called CAN-SPAM. It prescribes practices for spam and other mass emails. Most responsible mass emailers follow them. The Democratic Party, however, does not, and that's unfortunate.

The CAN-SPAM law made spam legal, but required that mailers allow people to opt-out. Some mailers, however, were creating complex processes, making it difficult for people to get their addresses removed. The FTC decided that mailers had to offer a simple, direct mechanism so people could make the mail stop.

Will Spam be the Booby Prize in the Debate Lottery?

The Texas Democractic Party took a pummeling when it announced the public would not be allowed to attend the presidential debate here in Austin. So, they carved out a small block of seats and setup a drawing to give them away.

The Statesman is reporting this morning that 20,000 people have signed up for the 100 seats.

I can calculate the odds of getting a seat and they aren't looking too good: currently 1 in 200 and dropping fast. So, a lot of people are going to be sad losers in this lottery. Even worse, I fear they may end up with a booby prize: a bunch of spam.

You (obviously) need to provide all your contact information to enter the drawing. The web page, however, doesn't specify what the group will do with the private information it collects. The Texas Democratic Party web site does have a privacy policy, but it doesn't shed any light on this situation.

Death Threat Spam

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This is a new one on me. Some 419 confidence scammers are switching to death threats.

I started receiving these emails yesterday:

To: undisclosed-recipients:;
From: therawradio [at] satx [dot] rr [dot] com
Subject: BE VERY CAREFUL
Date: Fri, 08 Feb 2008 04:00:49 +0100
Reply-to: mohammedyakubu2008 [at] gmail [dot] com

I  am very sorry for you Xxxxxx, is a pity that this is how your life is
going to end as soon as you don't comply. As you can see there is no need
of introducing myself to you because I don't have any business with you,
my duty as I am mailing you now is just to KILL you and I have to do it
as I have already been paid for that.

Someone you call a friend wants you Dead by all means, and the person
have spent a lot of money on this, the person also came to us and told
me that he wanted you dead and he provided us with your name ,picture
and other necessary information's we needed about you. So I sent my boys
to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation
needed for the operation on you, and they have done that but I told them
not to kill you that I will like to contact you and see if your life is
Important to you or not since their findings shows that you are innocent.

I called my client back and ask him of your email address which I didn't
tell him what I wanted to do with it and he gave it to me and I am using
it to contact you now. As I am writing to you now my men are monitoring
you and they are telling me everything about you.  Now do you want to LIVE
OR DIE? As someone has paid us to kill you.  Get back to me now if you
are ready to pay some fees to spare your life, $10,000 is all you need
to spend You will first of all pay $5,000 then I will send a tape to you
which i recorded every discusion i had with the person who wanted you dead
and as soon as you get the tape, you will pay the remaining $5,000. If you
are not ready for my help, then I will carry on with my job straight-up.

WARNING: DO NOT THINK OF CONTACTING THE POLICE OR EVEN TELLING ANYONE
BECAUSE I WILL KNOW.REMEMBER, SOMEONE WHO KNOWS YOU VERY WELL WANT YOU
DEAD! I WILL EXTEND IT TO YOUR FAMILY, INCASE I NOTICE SOMETHING FUNNY.
DO NOT COME OUT ONCE IT IS 7:PM UNTIL I MAKE OUT TIME TO SEE YOU AND
GIVE YOU THE TAPE OF MY DISCUSSION WITH THE PERSON WHO WANT YOU DEAD THEN
YOU CAN USE IT TO TAKE ANY LEGAL ACTION. GOOD LUCK AS I AWAIT YOUR REPLY .

GET BACK TO ME:mohammedyakubu2008 [at] gmail [dot] com

Nintendo Spam

The following message dropped into my mailbox earlier today:

To: www [at] unicom [dot] com
From: Nintendo <nintendo [at] nintendo-news [dot] com>
Subject: Score Big this Holiday Season with Great Games for Wii and Nintendo DS!
Reply-To: Nintendo <nintendo [dot] RDEIA [dot] 28048 [at] nintendo-news [dot] com>

Click here to view this message in living color:
http://view.ed4.net/v/...

To ensure ongoing optimal receipt of these communications,
please add our 'From' address (nintendo [at] nintendo-news [dot] com)
to your Address Book. Thank You.

************************************************************

HOLIDAY NEWSLETTER
DECEMBER 2007
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

It's amazing that in this day and age, major companies like Nintendo still haven't gotten the clue that spam is bad.

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