First (and easiest) thing to forge is the e-mail return address. Most personal
computer posting software lets you type in just about any e-mail address you
want to (for example the software I am using to post this message). Unless someone
is a real idiot or they truly don"t know they will annoy tons of people, they
will forge a fake e-mail return or put in the e-mail of someone they don"t like.
It seems that most machines will accept e-mail from any other machine, so don"t
send e-mail to postmasters at "upstream" sites that are just passing
the message along.
You will need to take a look at the headers on the message (if you can) In
PINE (for example) hit "h" to get headers. Look for a line like the
You should look at the message ID first & see what site it appeared to
come from (the part after the "@" sign). If it is a bunch of numbers
(an IP address) then you should then do a "nslookup" (see further
below for a description of nslookup) to see what the site name is. Furthermore
all the message-ID lines should have a unique number. If not then you have someone
who is VERY familiar with the SMTP protocol and is forging the e-mail
to another site (like the Euphoria Tape spammer). Sometimes this header will
even tell you who the message actually came from.
From the below, the only way we can tell the origin site is in the Message-ID
(which has an IP of 220.127.116.11) is to do a nslookup on the IP address,
and proceed from there.
>Received: from [18.104.22.168] (ppp007.free.org [22.214.171.124])
>sirocco.CC.McGill.CA (8.6.12/8.6.6) with SMTP id EAA16681; Sat, 11 Nov 1995
>X-SMTP-Posting-Origin: [126.96.36.199] (ppp007.free.org [188.8.131.52])
>X-Sender: email@example.com (Unverified)
Sample fake e-mail message :
From A@b.c.d Sat Nov 11 13:16 EST 1995
Received: from wavenet.com (wavenet.com [184.108.40.206]) by
ddi.digital.net (8.6.11/8.6.9) with ESMTP id NAA04656 for
; Sat, 11 Nov 1995 13:16:03 -0500
Received: from ddi.digital.net (ddi.digital.net [220.127.116.11]) by
wavenet.com (8.6.12/8.6.9) with SMTP id KAA27279 for
firstname.lastname@example.org; Sat, 11 Nov 1995 10:27:52 -0800
Received: from wavenet.com (wavenet.com [18.104.22.168]) by
ddi.digital.net (8.6.11/8.6.9) with ESMTP id OAA18017 for
; Tue, 24 Oct 1995 14:09:46 -0400
Received: from inetlis.wavenet.com (port16.wavenet.com
[22.214.171.124]) by wavenet.com (8.6.12/8.6.9) with SMTP id LAA02685
for ; Tue, 24 Oct 1995 11:21:12 -0700
This is a mail message I sent to myself just to use as an example. I have cut
out a bit of the other header information so that I could take a look at just
the important parts.
Obvious faked piece is the "From" address. You read the headers from
the bottom to the top to trace which sites the message has gone thru.
Make sure that you do a nslookup on the IP address"s (for example I would verify
126.96.36.199 actually is wavenet.com). If the IP doesn"t jive with the name
then you may have the IP address of the e-mail faker. This message decodes to
port16.wavenet.com = 188.8.131.52
wavenet.com = 184.108.40.206
ddi.digital.net = 220.127.116.11
From site To site Date / Time (delta GMT)
Time in GMT hh:mm:ss
inetlis.wavenet.com wavenet.com Tue, 24 Oct 1995 11:21:12 -0700
wavenet.com ddi.digital.net Tue, 24 Oct 1995 14:09:46 -0400
ddi.digital.net wavenet.com Sat, 11 Nov 1995 10:27:52 -0800
wavenet.com ddi.digital.net Sat, 11 Nov 1995 13:16:03 -0500
Wolfgang Schelongowski reminds us:
The first is hh:mm.ss WULT (WULT
== Widely Unknown Local Time
:-)) with a delta from GMT, so you add in the delta to get a "zero"
time. The time is from the computer transmitting, so it is possible to have
the clocks several minutes apart. GMT = Greenwich
Mean Time. The "time" was kept at RGO (Royal
Greenwich Observatory?), Greenwich England at one time and is
also known as UTC (UTC
= Coordinated Universal Time, or
Universal Coordinated Time) or "Zulu" or Zero
time. It is kept by the UK National Physical Laboratory, and is no longer at
the RGO (Royal
I manually inserted the first two mail transfers myself (as you can see from
the date / times) to muddy the waters. It looks like this message originated
from inetlis.wavenet.com, when in reality it came from ddi.digital.net.
The date / time (in this case) tells you that something is wrong, but sometimes
a computer may be down along the way which would hold up the mail.
You really need cooperation from other people & get multiple messages to
compare the headers. There will be a common "injection" point. Whether
it is the starting point or in the middle. Ask that postmaster to look thru
the logs & figure out who sent that e-mail. Someone from the first common
injection point "From" site spammed out the e-mail.
It has been kindly pointed out to me that there is a "feature" (read
"bug") in the UNIX mail spool wherein the person e-mailing you a message
can append a "message" (with the headers) to the end of their message.
It makes the mail reader think you have 2 messages when the joker that sent
the original message only sent one message (with a fake message appended). If
the headers look really screwy, you might look at the message before
the screwy message and consider if it may not be a "joke" message.
A Listserve is an automated (moderated or unmoderated) mailing list for an
interest group. A message gets sent to the Listserve and it gets passed to everyone
on the Listserve list. A one to many relationship.
Example Header appears below:
Received: from dir.bham.ac.uk (dir.bham.ac.uk [18.104.22.168])
gol1.gol.com (8.7.5/8.6.9) with SMTP id GAA27292 for ;
Sun, 5 May 1996 06:31:15 +0900 (JST)
Received: from bham.ac.uk by dir.bham.ac.uk with SMTP (PP) using DNS
id <email@example.com>; Sat, 4 May 1996 20:56:49 +0100
Received: from emout09.mail.aol.com (actually emout09.mx.aol.com) by
bham.ac.uk with SMTP (PP); Sat, 4 May 1996 21:13:03 +0100
Received: by emout09.mail.aol.com (8.6.12/8.6.12) id PAA29156; Sat, 4
May 1996 15:35:53 -0400
Date: Sat, 4 May 1996 15:35:53 -0400
Subject: CRaZy Complimentary Offer........
This is a post from Kevin Lipsitz for his "===>> FREE 1 yr. USA
Magazine Subscriptions". Reports are that he doesn"t provide very good
service after the sale of the subscription (that is if you even get a magazine).
In relation to the Internet he makes a slimy used car salesman look like a saint.
We won"t even start to discuss the fact the he likes to use female names for
For more info about "Krazy Kevin" or the Magazine Spam, Tony tells
us the page "Stop Spam!" is available in html format at:
Joel mentions that if you want even more details about Kevin, do a search on
"Lipsitz" in www.altavista.digital.com
or www.lycos.com or a similar search.
That having been said, e-mail from a Listserve can usually be broken down the
same way as "normal" e-mail headers. There are just more waypoints
along the way. As you can see from the above, the e-mail originated from:
You might with to also direct the listserve owner to look at & ask questions
in news.admin.net-abuse.misc about how to keep spam
off the listserve. It probably won"t be all that difficult of a thing to do.
Tracing a posted message
Tracing a fake post is probably easier than a fake e-mail because of some
posting peculiarities. You just have to save and look at a few "normal"
posts to try to spot peculiarities. Most people are not energetic to go to the
lengths of the below, but you never know.
Dan reminds us that first you should gather the same post from several
different sites (get your friends to mail the posts to you) and look at the
"Path" line. Somewhere it should "branch". If there is a
portion that is common to all posts, then the "actual" posting computer
is (most likely) in that portion of the path. That should be the starting postmaster
to contact. Be sure to do this expeditiously because the log files that help
to trace these posts may be deleted daily.
Once again, start by looking at the Message-ID, and ask yourself if that site
makes sense. Again, look at the number after the Message-ID and see if it is
identical for several different posts (i.e. posts to different groups).
Message-ID"s are unique for each different post. If the Message-ID is
the same, then it is faked. If you really want to see some fake posts,
look in alt.test or in the alt.binaries.wares.*
A fake post:
From: XXX@indirect.com(Female User)
Subject: Femdom In Search of Naughty Boys
Sender: XXX@indirect.com(Female User)
Organization: Internet Direct, Inc.
X-Newsreader: Trumpet for Windows[Version 1.0 Rev B final beta #1]
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 01:59:38 GMT
This poor lady (Name deleted by suggestion) was abused by someone for a couple
of days in an epic spam. Many messages were gathered. The Message ID was different
for several messages. But several anomalies showed an inept poster.
The headers were screwed up, and when looking at a selection of messages from
several sites, the central site was news.net99.net, where goodnet.com
gets / injects news at. This lead to the conclusion that either goodnet.com
or news.net99.net should be contacted to see who the original spammer
was. I never heard the results of this, but the spamming eventually stopped.
E-Mail return is probably the easiest to fake and is always suspect.
The NNTP-Posting-Host and / or Message-ID are harder to fake (but not much
harder...) and probably deserve a closer look at those sites.
You can try looking at sites & see if they have that message by :
telnet s46.phxslip4.indirect.com 119
Connected to s46.phxslip4.indirect.com.
200 s46.phxslip4.indirect.com InterNetNews server INN 1.4 22-Dec-93 ready
Message was not found at that site, so it did not go thru that computer, or
the article has already expired or been deleted off of that news reader.
What is an IP address and converting an IP address
When all you have is a number the looks like 22.214.171.124, and no computer
name, then you have to figure out what the name of that computer is. Most likely
if you complain to firstname.lastname@example.org it will go directly to the spammer
themselves (if it goes anywhere at all).
WWW IP Lookup URLs
A whole host of WWW IP utils is thoughtfully provided by Mike at :
Or for a WWW Traceroute you can try the URL :
For a WWW version of Dig :
WWW Nslookup :
SWITCH WHOIS Gateway:
TIG Internet Domain-Name Database :
IP to Lat - Lon (For those times when only a Tactical Nuke will do ;-)) :
Yet Another IP to name:
Converting that IP to a name
If the site is a IP address like 127.0.0.0, you can do a DNS lookup to backtrack
the site. A DNS lookup or a host command (see example below) uses the info in
a Domain Name Server database. This is the same info that is used for packet
routing. The UNIX command is :
And you get :
Addresses: 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52
InterNIC is your friend. The InterNIC Registration Services Host contains ONLY
Internet Information (Networks, ASN"s, Domains, and POC"s). Please use the whois
server at nic.ddn.mil for MILNET Information. Try:
If that doesn"t provide anything, try chopping off the last digits and you
BBN BARRNET, Inc. (NETBLK-NETBLK-BARRNET4) NETBLK-BARRNET4
184.108.40.206 - 220.127.116.11
Slip.Net (NETBLK-NETBLK-SLIP) NETBLK-SLIP 18.104.22.168 -
Success! BARRNet has the blocks of the IP"s.
John tells us :
Um yes, but that particular sub-block belongs to slip.net... barrnet is obviously
slip.net"s provider, the barrnet block looks like 4 class B"s (or 256 THOUSAND
IP"s..), while the slip.net block is a mere 32 class C"s (or 8 thousand IP"s)...
So a whois NETBLK-SLIP gives us (among other information) :
Netblock: 22.214.171.124 - 126.96.36.199
To see who the upstream provider is, try :
multinet traceroute ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com
You might get :
traceroute to IP30.ABQ-DIALIN.HOLLYBERRY.COM (188.8.131.52),
30 hops max, 38 byte packets
1 cpe2.Washington.mci.net (184.108.40.206) 190 ms 210 ms 120 ms
2 borderx1-hssi2-0.Washington.mci.net (220.127.116.11) 100 ms 100 ms 60 ms
3 core-fddi-0.Washington.mci.net (18.104.22.168) 180 ms 130 ms 70 ms
4 core1-hssi-4.LosAngeles.mci.net (22.214.171.124) 150 ms 140 ms 150 ms
5 core-hssi-4.Bloomington.mci.net (126.96.36.199) 180 ms 200 ms 180 ms
6 border1-fddi-0.Bloomington.mci.net (188.8.131.52) 170 ms 290 ms 240 ms
7 internet-direct.Bloomington.mci.net (184.108.40.206) 300 ms 210 ms 270 ms
8 220.127.116.11 (18.104.22.168) 180 ms 240 ms 180 ms
9 abq-phx-gw1.indirect.com (22.214.171.124) 290 ms 220 ms 230 ms
10 * * *
Humm..... Seems that after abq-phx-gw1.indirect.com we get no response, so
that is who I would complain to... or you can just send a message to
JamBreaker sez: Be sure to let the traceroute go until the traceroute stops
after 30 hops or so. A reply of "*
* *" doesn"t mean that you"ve got the right destination; it just
means that either the gateways don"t send ICMP "time exceeded" messages
or that they send them with a ttl (time-to-live) too small to reach you.
Try "dig" (or one of its derivatives), it is used to search DNS records:
For the software : http://www.rediris.es/ftp/infoiris/red/ip/dns/dig-
yourhost> dig -x 126.96.36.199 ; <<>> dig 2.0
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY , status: NOERROR, id: 6
;; flags: qr aa rd ra ; Ques: 1, Ans: 1, Auth: 3, Addit: 3
;; 188.8.131.52.in-addr.arpa, type = ANY, class = IN
184.108.40.206.in-addr.arpa. 86400 PTR
;; AUTHORITY RECORDS:
11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns.psi.net.
11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns2.psi.net.
11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns5.psi.net.
;; ADDITIONAL RECORDS:
ns.psi.net. 86400 A 220.127.116.11
ns2.psi.net. 86400 A 18.104.22.168
ns5.psi.net. 86400 A 22.214.171.124
;; Sent 1 pkts, answer found in time: 64 msec
;; FROM: (yourhostname) to SERVER: default -- (yourDNSip)
;; WHEN: Thu Nov 16 23:30:42 1995
;; MSG SIZE sent: 43 rcvd: 216
Getting a complaint to the correct person
O.K... So you have a common site that you can complain to. Good. Post the FULL
HEADERS (this is very important for tracing) to news.admin.net-abuse.misc
and send complaint with FULL HEADERS in e-mail to any or all of the below
Note: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org are not "standard"
complaint e-mail addresses, but I have seen those listed more and more frequently.
Chris tells us :
If you see MMFs or other gross abuses from AOL, MSN, MCI (_not_internetmci),
Primenet, Panix, please do not report them to news.admin.net-abuse.misc.
Just wastes bandwidth. Email your report directly to the provider:
By "gross abuses", please try to ensure that it really is likely
to be spam. Not one article cross-posted lots, but lots of articles that you
see yourself. In AOL or MCI"s case, the definition of abuse is somewhat stricter
(AOL bans commercial use. MCI"s tolerance thresholds is lower)
For the following providers the correct e-mail address is:
AOL - email@example.com. Emergency - send complete copies
earthlink.net - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hongkong"s ISPs - send an email to email@example.com
with anything in the subject/body. You"ll get a most recent version of the list
contacts by email within minutes.
interserve.com.hk - Mr. K H Lee - firstname.lastname@example.org.
IBM Net - Postmaster@ibm.net - Also see http://www.ibm.net/helpdesk.html
MCI Net - postmaster@internetMCI.COM . Per Joel (
Postmaster@mci.net ) 800-977-iNOC is staffed 24 hours a day. Complaints regarding
Internet abuse are taken seriously at MCI.
Note: If the Spam crosses MCI lines, Contact email@example.com
if the headers in a Usenet or Email spam indicate that it had something to do
with MCI or its lines.
MCSNet - firstname.lastname@example.org
Netcom - email@example.com for standard SPAM junk.
firstname.lastname@example.org is for instances of forgery, cracking etc.
PSI Net - schoff@PSI.COM - From email@example.com
policies - http://www.pipeline.com, http://www.usa.pipeline.com,
Slip Net - firstname.lastname@example.org - Tech Support Teleport
System Administration - teleport.com - email@example.com
UUNET Customer Liaison - firstname.lastname@example.org
From: David Jackson (email@example.com) (and this applies to any abuse):
To report an instance of USENET abuse send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- please remember to include a complete copy of the USENET article,
including all headers, to help us quickly quash the abuse.
Scott reminds us :
It might also be a good idea to remind people that sometimes the postmaster
_is_ the spammer. Joe Spam might have his own domain (since they _used_ to be
free) inside of which they are the postmaster. This is terrifyingly common with
net.twits (kooks, etc.) but seems rare for spam. A quick note that if
the spammer is the admin contact in whois, notifying the postmaster will surely
generate laughs on their end.
If you don"t get a proper response from the postmaster, remember, Whois
- rs.internic.net is your friend. You can get information on / about
a site by:
The InterNIC Registration Services Host contains ONLY Internet Information
(Networks, ASN"s, Domains, and POC"s). Please use the whois server at nic.ddn.mil
for MILNET Information.
get you a person to talk to & their personal e-mail address. If you don"t
get any response from that postmaster, then you should try the provider to that
site. This gets a little trickier, but a multinet traceroute should show you
the upstream provider, and from there you can try contacting the postmasters
of that site.
Worst case, a site can be UDP (Usenet Death Penalty) out so that other sites
stop accepting news or even e-mail from that site. They are cut off from the
net. Decisions like this are discussed in the news group news.admin.net-abuse.misc.
Thanx to Leslie, whom to contact about domains that have invalid contact information:
Internic Registration Services should be contacted by phone:
If you think you know a machine close to the spammer, you can change your default
DNS lookup server (and get lots
more info ;-)) by:
> server wb3ffv.abs.net
Default Server: wb3ffv.abs.net
> ls -d kjl.com
kjl.com. SOA kjl.com dns-admin.abs.net. (10
21600 3600604800 86400)
kjl.com. NS ns1.abs.net
kjl.com. NS ns2.abs.net
kjl.com. MX 10 abs.net
kjl.com. SOA kjl.com dns-admin.abs.net. (10
21600 3600604800 86400)
If you are quick enough, you can see if the spammer is still on by :
multinet RUSERS rust.nmt.edu
And you might get :
kuller ray timbers jweinman timbers john timbers rayzer
Assuming that the spammer is from ingress.com you can expand the Spammers UserID
(some sites have expn / vrfy turned off) by:
> telnet ingress.com smtp
Trying 126.96.36.199 ...
Connected to ingress.com.
Escape character is "^]".
220 ingress.com Sendmail 4.1/SMI-4.1 ready at Sun, 22 Oct 95 15:13:39
250 Lipsitz Kevin
We connect to port 25 (smtp) and issues an expn command. Looks like email@example.com
is being used as a maildrop for this user. I"ll would send my complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org
as well (not that it would do any good in Krazy Kevin"s case... but the reply
to your e- mail might be amusing).
To find out the Mail Exchange records, do a nslookup for the MX records only.
You can then look up the expansion of the postmaster or root to see who they
really are. For example:
> set type=mx
> gnn.comgnn.com preference = 20, mail exchanger = mail-e1a.gnn.com
gnn.com preference = 10, mail exchanger = mail-e1b.gnn.com% telnet mail-e1a.gnn.com
220 mail-e1a.gnn.com ESMTP Sendmail 8.7.1/8.6.9 ready at Thu, 11 Jan
1996 12:54:26 -0500 (EST)
You can use the "host" command. It"s really simple:
% host -t any domain.name
This will give you anything your name server can find out.
% host -t ns domain.name
This tells you the name servers. Not all systems have host, but it"s a small
program which should be easy to compile (like whois).
The command "last" will tell where the spammer logged on from last,
but it has to be done by a user from that site. For example:
Would produce :
imrket4u ttypf ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com Fri Sep 15 00:27
- 00:34 (00:06)
imrket4u ttyq8 ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com Fri Sep 15 00:19
- 00:20 (00:01)
imrket4u ttyqc abq-ts1 Thu Sep 14 20:42 - 22:21
imrket4u ttyqc rust.nmt.edu Thu Sep 14 18:39 - 18:41
imrket4u ttypb abq-ts1 Thu Sep 14 17:55 - 17:57
Filtering E-Mail using procmail or News with Gnus
Get the procmail FAQ:
Or read about it when it is posted to:
Newsgroups: comp.mail.misc, comp.mail.elm, comp.mail.pine, comp.answers,
Subject: Filtering Mail FAQ
Brian has a Gnus scorefile from the Internet blacklist:
Or his example global scorefile:
Many news readers have a "kill" file that will filter out the posts
from either a certain user-id, or posts with certain titles. Each news reader
is unique. You might wish to read the help file on the subject of kill files.
Origins of Spam
The history of calling inappropriate postings in great numbers "Spam"
is from a Monty Python skit (yes, it is very silly...) where a couple go into
a restaurant, and try to get something other than Spam. In the background are
a bunch of Vikings that sing the praises of Spam. Pretty soon the only thing
you can hear in the skit is the word "Spam". That same idea would
happen to the Internet if large scale inappropriate postings were allowed. You
couldn"t pick the real postings out from the Spam.
Black listed Internet Advertisers:
First off, the only CORRECT way to "Spam" the net:
Show SPAM Gifts http://wolf.co.net/spamgift/index.html
A collection of Spam links:
The Church of Spam :
The MMF (Make Money Fast) Posts or any fraud on
There is a WWW site dedicated to any kind of fraud. It is:
A partnership of the National Association of Attorneys General, the Federal
Trade Commission and The National Consumers League http://www.fraud.org/
Wolfgang Schelongowski sez: IMHO MMF is associated
with "Hello, my name is Dave Rhodes. In 198...". There was also a
forged article purporting to tell how MMF is illegal:
From: email@example.com (Melvin Purvis)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^ he arrested / shot John
Subject: "Make Money Fast" Scam
Jon said : "Hermann" appears to have spammed at least 27 Bitnet mailing
lists, including TANGO-L, where I saw it, with a standard MMF. I checked at
the US Post Office web site and verified that chain letters are federal crimes
under Title 18, United State Code, Section 1302. This does apply to email as
well as paper; quoting from URL
"Recently, high-tech chain letters have begun surfacing. They may be disseminated
over the Internet, or may require the copying and mailing of computer disks
rather than paper. Regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme,
if the mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal."
To find your nearest postal inspector in the USA, see URL
I believe that the applicable Canadian description can be found at:
And from the Canadian Department of Justice server (http://canada.justice.gc.ca/):
STATUTES OF CANADA,C,Competition - PART VI OFFENSES IN RELATION TO COMPETITION
- Definition of "scheme of pyramid selling" - Section 55.1
DOES ANYBODY HAVE POSTAL INSPECTOR ADDRESSES FOR OTHER COUNTRIES THAT PONZI
/ MMF SCHEMES ARE ILLEGAL IN?
Those annoying 1-900 & 1-800 Sex Phone Ads
I would like to thank Eileen at the FTC for kindly answering my questions about
1-900 & 1-800 phone numbers.
Paraphrasing what she e-mailed me:
When a 1-900 number is advertised, the price must also be disclosed (this may
be found at 16 CFR Part 308).
When calling a 1-800 number that charges, there must be an existing subscription
agreement between the buyer and the seller
http://www.ftc.gov/ Federal Trade Commission
Telemarketing Sales Rule
Telemarketing Sales Rule
(from the "Online Scams page)
For More Information
If you have a question or complaint about a suspect online ad or promotion,
contact your commercial service provider. In addition, you can file complaints
with your state attorney general, consumer protection office or with the Federal
Trade Commission (write to: Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade Commission,
6th St. & Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580). Also, contact the
National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, 845
Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022.
Questions about whether or not an investment sales person is licensed, or if
an offered security is registered, should be directed to the Office of Consumer
Affairs, Securities and Exchange Commission, 202-42-7040.
The National Fraud Information Center maintains a toll-free Consumer Assistance
Service, 1-800-876-7060, to provide consumers with answers to questions about
telephone or mail solicitations and online scams. They also offer information
about how and where to report fraud and give help in filing complaints.
How To Respond to SPAM
Howard reminds us:
Note to all: NEVER followup to a spam. NEVER. Express your
indignation in mail to the poster and/or the firstname.lastname@example.org,
but NEVER in the newsgroups!
But what about the newbies who look at a group, see lots of spam and ads, see
NO posts decrying them, and conclude that ads are therefore OK?
When it gets bad, you"ll usually see some "What can we do about this?"
threads. That"s a good place to attach a reply that tells people why it"s bad,
and what they can, in fact, do.
At the risk of attracting flames, let me suggest an exception to Howard"s law.
A followup is allowed if the following 3 conditions hold.
1) The offending article is clearly a SCAM (for instance, the Canadacalls
with the Seychelles Islands phone # scam)
2) No one else has followed-up with a posting identifying it as a scam
(in other words, no "Me too" warnings)
3) It is unlikely to be canceled soon, either because it seems to be
below the thresholds, or it is in a local hierarchy that doesn"t get cancels,
or Chris Lewis is on vacation in the Seychelles Islands. If all three conditions
are met, a followup that X"s out the contact information , severely trims the
contents and identifies the post as a scam is exempt from Howard"s law. Comments?
Bill"s and Wolfgang"s addition:
4) Follow-ups should be cross posted to n.a.n-a.m _and_ the groups of the spam,
but Followup-To: MUST be set to n.a.n-a.m ONLY _or_
post a follow-up and SET Followup-To: alt.dev.null.
In the first case change
Subject: Important FREE $$$
Subject: SPAM (was Re: Important FREE $$$)
and include the original Newsgroups and Message-ID line, so the professional
despammers will immediately find what you"re talking about. Do not post unless
you"re absolutely sure that you can do all that properly. Also 1) - 3) do apply.
If you see the same article with different Message-IDs in several groups, collect
the _complete_ headers of each article and check n.a.n-a.m if it"s already been
reported. If not, start a thread with
Subject: SPAM (was Re: ) in n.a.n-a.m. Include all of
the headers and as much of the body of one article as you see fit.
Revenge - What to do & not to do
No matter how much we hate Spam and how much we dislike what the spammers to
our quiet little corner of the Universe known as the Internet, Spam is not illegal
(yet). If you try anything against the spammers, please do not put yourself
in risk of breaking the law. It only makes them happy if you get in trouble
because you were trying to get back at them.
The reason why spammers use "throwaway" accounts is because they
know the e-mail account will be deleted. They usually provide either another
e-mail address or a name / phone number or postal address so that prospective
"customers" can be contacted. Be sure to complain to the postmaster
of all e-mail names provided to make sure that this route is inhibited.
Calling someone once is fine. If enough people are pissed at the spammer and
they all call the 1-800 number the spammer provides, the spammer will get the
idea (sooner or later) that it is costing them more in irate people (and most
especially loss of business) and it is not worth it to spam.
Do not dial any phone numbers more than once from your home. Phone harassment
is illegal and you can be prosecuted in court for this. Even tho"
*67 prevents your number from being displayed on their telephone at home if
they have caller ID, *57 will give the phone company the number. If it is a
1-800 number there are two problems. First they can always get your phone
number, and secondly it may not be a toll free number. You may be charged
for calling a 1-800 number.
Likewise, do not call collect using 1-800-COLLECT or 1-800-CALL-ATT from home,
once again this can be traced.
Austin comments: I would say that calling a listed non-800 number once
collect to voice a complaint is not harassment, but justified. They sent you
a postage due message, didn"t they? If they don"t want to accept collect calls,
they should say so - and if they do, you should be a responsible person and
not do it again.
AT&T Information for 1-800 numbers is 1-800-555-1212, but that only helps
if you know the company name you are trying to call. Also, you can try searching
for a 1-800 number (you do not have to know the company name) at:
(advanced search options).
Snail Mailing someone
Likewise, one well thought out letter sent to the spammer
might help convince the spammer not to do this again. Especially if the spammer
was part of a corporation that didn"t realize the detrimental effects of spamming
If you decide to deluge the spammers postal address by filling out one or two
"bingo" (popcorn) postage paid cards in the technical magazines (by
circling a few dozen "product info" requests per card & putting
on printed out self sticking labels with the spammers address), or by putting
preprinted labels on postage paid cards that come in the mail in the little
plastic packages, don"t organize a public campaign (that they can point to)
against the spammer in the newsgroup.
Scott also reminds us:
Since this is the "Spam FAQ", I"d like to point this out: You"re basically
Spamming the company offering information in a magazine. It costs companies
money, not the one you"re spamming. They get a free pile of junk which is easy
to throw out. In other words, this may be harming third parties more than the
intended target. I"m not trying to be Mr. Nice Guy, just trying to point out
an important technicality.
You should also read Title 47 of the United States Code, Section 227. There
is a FAQ at cornell.law.edu for the text of the
law (gopher or ftp or http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/47/227.html),
and you can use Dejanews to read the USC 47 thread on n.a.n-a.m. to make up
your own mind (it invariably comes up) or you can look at:
Organizing a campaign against the spammer in a news group could lead to the
spammer trying to get a cease & desist police order against the organizers.
On the upside note, the spammer will have to try to figure out where these "anonymous"
cards were coming from (especially hard to do in a big city).
Of course if someone (every once in a while) reminded the newsgroup of the
spammers address by posting a message (for informational purposes only, and
not to encourage mail bombing), I don"t see how that could be considered harassment
I am not a lawyer, and all of the above could be wrong. 80% of the Internet
is bull... Free advice is worth every penny you paid for it :-).