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Fighting email spam

The majority of emails being sent over the Internet these days is spam, i.e. unsolicited bulk email. Generally, the longer an email address has been in use, the more spam it will receive. Also, any email address listed on a website or mentioned in Newgroups (usenet) postings will be spammed disproportionally. Spam costs billions of dollars in lost productivity. Hours spent deleting unwanted email or reporting spam senders or researching companies that send spam are lost from our work time and enjoyable lifetime.

The reason for the flood of spam is the amount of money to be made by criminal spammers. No matter how few people will buy the goods or services being advertised (or increasingly, fall for their scams), spamming is so cheap to the sender that it is profitable. There are too few obstacles. The SMTP-protocol, via which all e-mail travels, lacks the ability to verify the originator of a mail all the way from the recipient back to the sender. It was designed for a different age, when most servers were run by cooperating academics and not for profit.

Most spam you receive today is either sent from servers in foreign countries such as China, South Korea, Brazil or other Latin American countries (which are largely out of reach of US courts) or via broadband hosts in the USA. ADSL or cable internet hosts can be turned into spam robots by virus infections and other malware. There is increasing evidence that recent waves of computer viruses are created by spammers in order to open backdoors into high-bandwidth internet clients, which in turn can be used to spread large amounts of spam without any trace back to the originator.

Spams peddle all kinds of porn, pills, gambling and other questionable goods and services. An increasing number spams is even more criminal in nature, aiming at credit card and check fraud, identity theft, money laundering, etc. Most people have received "419" or Advance Fee Scams, aka "Nigeria Scam" or "phishing" spam (fake notifications from PayPal, eBay or banks to steal login information). Criminals set up websites of fake companies and send out job offers to recruit people to handle illicit transactions for them. Anyone falling for such fraudulent emails risks losing a lot of money and in some case may even face criminal charges. We investigate many of these scams and document them on our site. See the links below for details.

Operating internationally and abusing other people's machines mean that legal mechanisms are unlikely to solve these problem any time soon, even if the US Congress was willing to do so, which apparently it is not. The recently passed "Can Spam" act not only prevents individual spam recipients from suing spammers, it also emasculates more strict state laws that would give spam victims more rights to fight back. Clearly, industry pressure won over public interests in this case in the passage of this "You Can Spam" law.

For these reasons, technical solutions such as filters will remain the only viable solution for the time being. Spam filtering can be done on email servers or on the client machine, either as a stand-alone program or as part of the email application. There are many different techniques for trying to differentiate between spam and legitimate mail, some of which work better than others. The objective in all is to reduce the rate of spam as close to zero as possible without discarding legitimate mail.

jwSpamSpy is our mail filtering solution for any Windows email program using the POP3 protocol. We are using it to filter several hundred thousand emails per day at several sites. From the information extracted by it we build blacklists of spamvertised domain names and of 419 fraud email addresses that we publish on our website. We also document many of the scams that involve spam email to find victims. Try it out for free for yourself for thirty days.

jwSpamSpy
Are you sick of spam too? Do you want it stopped now?
Try jwSpamSpy, the spamfilter we use to track the spammers!
Free 30-day trial version available now!

Other anti-spam solutions are available at
dmoz.org – Computers: Software: Internet: Clients: Mail: Windows: Tools: Anti Spam

Anti-Spam Resources:
jwSpamSpy is our spam filter (free evaluation version available for download)
Anti-spam domain blacklist – list of domains that I refuse to receive mail from
Recent additions to domain blacklist (with whois details)
Plain text versions of the domain and 419 blacklist
Domain blacklist update (DBL-Update) archive
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
How to trace senders of spam
Lookup an IP address on blacklists (http://dnsbl.net.au/lookup/)
Lookup an IP address on Spamhaus (http://www.spamhaus.org/SBL/)
Lookup a domain on SURBL
Where to report child pornography

Useful information:
DNS-based IP and domain name blacklists
IP address ranges
Dynamic IP addresses (700 KB!)
Name server / Registrar combinations
Free email providers
AOL dial-up address ranges and mail servers

Computer Viruses

Advance fee fraud (419)
About the 419 (Advance Fee) scam
Frequently asked Questions (419 FAQ)
"419" scam sender/contact addresses ("Nigeria connection" address book)
Phone numbers used by 419 scammers
Domains registered by 419 scammers
Company names mentioned in 419 spam
Where to complain about spam that uses free email accounts
419 tsunami scams

Various spams and scams:
ShareYourExperiences.com spammers
Smyrnagroup spammers (in German)
"Joe job" information
newphotoid.com - Phishing scam or Joe Job?
Kaplan College spam
Spam phone numbers ("diploma" spam, etc.)
Stock Price Manipulation Spam ("Pump & Dump")
What's the deal with "OEM software"?
"Replica watches"
"High Yield Investment Programs" (HYIP)
"VENTURE CAPITAL BUSINESS" spam
'Phishing' for your wallet (Fraud)

Moneylaundering job fraud:
Job offer spam: Forwarding payments (Fraud)
Forwarding Paypal payments via Western Union (Fraud)

Various online frauds:
Fraud: mailorder shipping to Nigeria
ALABA STREET, MUSHIN, LAGOS
Cheap mobile phones from Lagos, Nigeria (cell phone scams)
Fraud: Car buyer with large cashier's check
Fraud: Bike seller uses bogus escrow service
Fraud: Appartment rental with large cashier's check
Fraud: Wedding photographer with large cashier's check
Fraud: eBay purchase for Nigeria using BidPay (Western Union)
"Tawa Enterprises" - attempted $98,600 fraud from Lagos, Nigeria
officelineworld.com - Be careful with orders from Nigeria!
Fraud: The girl from Russia

"SP Trade Investments Capital Ltd" (sp-traderfund.com) [2004-11-23]
"Arkolaptops.com / Arco-laptops.com" [2004-11-23]
"skytech-computers.com" [2005-01-21]
"skytech-inc.com" [2005-01-22]
"pc-home.biz" [2004-12-19]
tt-transports.com (2005-01-24)
support-escrow.com fraudulent escrow service [2004-12-10]
wise-pay.com fraudulent escrow service [2004-12-10]
solidibank.com (hosted in Thailand)

Link exchange spam:
Link exchange offer spam
Getting creative with spam
Link exchange spam: allcarpictures.com

Sober-G/Sober-H:
Xenophobia, Spam and Viruses: The "German Spam" (Sober.H, Sober.Q)
Sober.H, Sober.Q – Racist German email spam spread by virus (in German)

Annoying and stupid:
Addressbook spam
Clueless virus filters spam innocent third parties
Challenge and Response spam filters: A selfish idea for selfish times
1.txt spam
Spam from sms.ac - Who are these guys?
Bank account debited by SOHQPAY.COM
Gouranga-spam

Abused sender addresses:
"Joe job" against joewein.de
Porn spam: watchsound.com
Porn spam: hotsalza.com

Browser hijacking: heretofind.com

Domain Blacklist Archive:
Recent additions to domain blacklist (with whois details)

New pages added to the site:

jwSpamSpy
Are you sick of spam too? Do you want it stopped now?
Try jwSpamSpy, the spamfilter we use to track the spammers!
Free 30-day trial version available now!