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Commerce: Fight Spam!
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Spammers do more than spam

In addition to all of the bad things spammers do to your mailbox and Usenet, they are also dishonest and unethical. Spammers have been documented as stealing other site's domain names via forgery - both Reply.Net and Concentric Networks have been hit this way. Indeed, Outernet, Inc. was actually attacked by one such spammer.

12 Sep 2001 - Spammers are soliciting donations for relatives of the victims of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on the USA. We at spam.abuse.net do not believe that any of these relatives will see any of that money.

The spammers have a new trick - they supply an offshore phone number that you are supposed to call to be removed. The call costs $2 per minute. Sometimes they play a tape directing people to CAUCE, in what appears to be an attempt to discredit us. See an example.

One trick the spammers tried is to set up fake anti-spam sites, or to forge e-mail from anti-spam organizations such as CAUCE. Neither CAUCE, as an organization, nor any anti-spammers, as individuals, are soliciting or accepting donations of money or any other valuable consideration. Another earmark of just such a forgery is use of a throw-away or invalid e-mail address. If you see a supposed anti-spam e-mail or a web site that is asking for money, it's a fake. Report it to your nearest anti-spammer and the National Fraud Information Center.

Spammers lie to their customers. For example, Quantum Communications claimed to Mass Music, an innocent customer, that they'd send a mailing to people who'd asked to receive info about new products and services, not to thousands of unwilling spam recipients. Now Mass Music's made thousands of new enemies who will never buy from them after to being spammed, due to Quantum's misrepresentations.

Another, similar, lie is to sell someone a mailing list and tell them that the people on it want advertising e-mail. Most of the time, the list is one of the same old spam lists that's been around five years. There are a very few lists of people who've signed up for ads, but they're small, targetted, anot not cheap. Any large list purporting to be of people who want any kind of advertising e-mail is a fraud.

Spammers also cheat their suppliers. A number of ISPs have admitted that many or most of their spammers never pay for their service. This is especially true with the spammers who use free trial accounts with a provider to send their spew. It's obvious in those cases that they never intended to pay.

Further, as the "Global Communications" 809 phone fraud shows, con-men and thieves are gravitating toward massive spams as a way to perpetrate their crimes. For more information on fraud and scams, see the National Fraud Information Center, Internet ScamBusters or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Scamsters are spamming fake contest "entries" also. When one of them was called on it, they subscription-bombed the person who did it. See the whole story.

Another typical claim is to spam offers for "free" web pages. Peter da Silva has a list of legitimate offers of free Web space.

Recently, someone forwarded me a spammed web site registry offer. They claimed they had a list of high-profile customers, including The New York Times, Iams and Inc. I forwarded a copy to The Times and received a call early the next morning not only disclaiming a connection to the spammer, but letting me know that they were ordering the spammer to stop using The Times' name in their advertising. See The Times' follow-up e-mail to me. My correspondent contacted Iams - see their response - and Inc. - their response. In a final fillip, the spammer is now being investigated for fraud - false advertising.

Spammers are also not above inventing their own testimonials. The Cybertize E-mail home page includes a bunch of quotes. The first one, allegedly from The Internet for Dummies is, according the the book's author, a complete fabrication and utterly opposed to his actual opinion about spam, and we have our doubts about the rest of the purported quotes.

E-mail spammers are even damaging Usenet. See Peter da Silva's story about getting e-mail spams after posting to Usenet for a short while. The sort of activity he describes scares people away from participating in Usenet.

Lastly, chain letter spams are not just rude, annoying, and spam. If there is money exchanged, they're illegal in the United States according to the United States Postal Service. For the definitive word on "Make Money Fast" chain letters, see the MMF Hall of Humiliation. See also what other users are saying about MMF, and take a look at some information on Pyramid schemes on Usenet. Additionally, you can now report apparent tax fraud and schemes to make unreported income to the IRS. net-abuse@nocs.insp.irs.gov should be used to report them. Use hotline@nocs.insp.irs.gov to report threats against the IRS or its employees, attempted bribery, or any other attacks on the integrity of the tax system. Do not use it for general spam complaints, and especially do not use an automatic filter to send mail there.

We are not opposed to Commerce

John Levine / Trumansburg NY / Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies" and Information Superhighwayman wanna-be