Posts tagged “spam”

Blogs can help?

I have previously blogged about my troubles with AOL sending me THOUSANDS of bounce messages intended for my ISP’s admin folk, and how they would not take me off their list despite my calling and emailing and following all their rules, etc.

I guess that blog got noticed by someone at AOL AntiSpam Operations who wrote me directly and offered to help. He told me that he’s taken me off the distribution list for the bounces (and I believe that’s correct) and apologized for my frustration. It’s terrible when the normal channels break down but it’s great there are proactive individuals out there who obviously care about how their systems are running and how they are impacting people and are willing to reach out and solve a problem.

Thanks to the individual who took time and care to resolve this, and boo to AOL for not having a proper infrastructure to allow their staff to take care of these things in the normal course of their work.

spam imitates life

Back when I was a kid I liked the idea that you could fill out a form in a magazine etc. and have mail sent to whatever name you gave – they would pretty much use anything. I signed up to get philatelic announcements sent to Worklkg Glapiztorknyo, Grand Poo-bah. I got that for years. Years after I had moved out of my mom’s house, they were still coming. Hi-larious.

My roommates and I (well, it was mostly me) during the undergrad years, used to play little jokes on each other by coming up with clever names (now that we were more mature). We had
Dr. Enest Q. Schliepenfelder-Jones
Flaughean O’Penulean-Jones
James T. Picasso-Jones
Christopolis Vertinsky, and beyond.

We cracked ourselves up pretty majorly.

Flash to many years later when spammers are using whatever tricks they can to get past filters. One of them is coming up with sender names that are composed of other words or phrases:

Unmannerly O. Tester
Unconsidered M. Rutherford
Motherfucking K. Regulation
Juliette J. Chlorinates
Infections F. Paeans
Impends R. Joel
Featureless C. Mortimer
Disunity P. Qingdao
Disqualifies U. Helios
Debt D. Gable
Boltzmann E. Schoolchildren
Birthmark L. Cather
Biblical K. Chat
Winnipeg H. Chatterbox

Amusing similarity in weirdness. I may have missed my calling.

I [hate] AOL

I run a few mailing lists, the most active being Undercover, a Rolling Stones discussion group that goes back to 1992. In this era of spam and spam counter-measures, there are lots of problems in getting email through (I had a client, for example, that couldn’t get email from me at all; fortunately they were able to figure that out and not assume I was just ignoring them!). A discussion group that can generate dozens of messages in a short period of time is easily flagged by automated software as a spambot of some sort.

Say what you want about the discussions on Undercover, they aren’t spam. But they were getting flagged as spam (we didn’t know that; we just started seeing hours and hours of delays, sometimes messages being held for 20 hours before being delivered), as our ISP suggested (it is hard to track down email problems – is it between the sender and the mailing list host, or the mailing host and the sender? Or elsewhere)?

The ISP suggested I whitelist Undercover – go through some administrivia to get AOL to recognize it is a valid sender so that it wouldn’t get auto-flagged as spam. I filled out a bunch of forms, including agreeing to have certain types of bounce messages sent back to me. I didn’t follow all of it; it was speaking a language best understood by someone that operates an ISP and has access to the email software that UNIX etc. systems are using. I’m just a customer with a web-interface, I’m not a sys-admin. So I signed up and was approved.

The email delays (to AOL, at least) stopped.

The bounce messages started coming. TONS and TONS. And what I realized was that I had signed up as the whitelist contact for the entire ISP. Not just and the Undercover email, but anyone who is hosted at my ISP that sends something to AOL – I was the guy they were going to let know about it. In fact what I think is happening that anytime there is spam sent from anyone at my ISP, every single AOL customer who flags it as spam in their account, well that comes back to me.

You can’t believe how much of this I received.

I asked my ISP. No answer – I was starting to realize that I had taken on the whitelist responsibility that THEY should have, for the entire ISP.

Finally after months and several thousand messages, I contacted AOL. I emailed them – they have a lot of info on their support pages for people at other sites trying to email or run approved lists, etc. They always want you to email them at No response. No response. Finally I called and got right through. No problem, they told me, your ISP should be the whitelist contact definitely not you. Email us and say X, y, and Z, and they’ll take you off within 24 to 72 hours.

I’ve emailed them 5 times over a month, and it’s not working. I’m still getting these messages.

What has happened is that my ISP has finally (after numerous requests from me) fixed whatever was enabling one single user to be the source for all this spam. It was obvious – you could see on every single bounce message from AOL what user was causing the problem. It was all from the same customer of the ISP. So plugging that hole did reduce drastically the number of warnings I was getting.

Until today – someone else is spamming AOL customers and every one of them is flagging it as spam and every one of those is coming back to me. In a four hour period I have received 453 of these messages and as I type this, more are coming in.

Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope. Seriously, I don’t know what to do. AOL won’t take me off the list – when I email they ignore me and when I phone they tell me to email. It’s not really bothering anyone at my ISP and they won’t take any action. And this has been going on for months now.

I [hate] AOL. I also [hate] my ISP (meanwhile it’s almost time to renew my hosting account there for

Update: 6 hours later it’s now more than 3000 messages that have been bounced back to me

Update: I’m sure it totally more than 4000 messages. My ISP claims that they have signed on as the whitelist contact for AOL, and I finally discover (with their suggestion) that I can filter unwanted emails directly at the ISP so they don’t come through – yeah, they are still being sent by AOL but they won’t ever be delivered to me.

AAA spammers


This one really surprises me – I thought AAA was (among other things) an advocacy group for consumers, at least related to road and car and travel issues. I guess that doesn’t preclude them from being spamming scum as well? Seems out of their brand image to me. Maybe someone acting locally doesn’t have to be accountable to the corporate parental unit?

Referrer Spam?

I’m getting a lot of hits to this blog from Yahoo searches for “” where the only hit is my entry Wells Fargo Usability Nightmare – why is anyone searching for that exact string? Unless it’s some robot from Wells Fargo themselves trying to create some referrer spam or something? I guess some people could be trying to enter that URL manually into their address bar and type it into their Yahoo search bar by mistake, but how many times can that happen? I see it several times a day and have for a while now, I think.

I think they are spammers, or search engine optimizers or whatever. Nice.

anti-spam measures

I encountered one of those new spam-blocking services from earthlink. The sender’s email is not delivered, but instead placed in email-escrow, meanwhile, they are sent their own message with a link to a website where they can explicitly request that their email be delivered. The receipient gets some sort of request-for-permission from the sender, and if they grant it, the message (and all others) will be delivered.

Many spam messages can’t be properly replied to, so that takes care of a lot of the spam, and then others presumably won’t ask for permission, and of those that are left, well, presumably the recipient won’t grant them permission.

Anyway, this happened to me because I replied to someone. They sent me email. Shouldn’t Eartlink know that their customer made an explicit choice to correspond with me? When all I’m doing is replying, I certainly don’t expect to be challenged. But why should Eartlink care, right? They are protecting their own customers.



I got a rather off-color piece of spam today (this is not unusual) that included this line: Young Cherries About To Get Poped !

Nigerian Spam of the Week



I am Barrister Elvis Martins.I represent Mohammed Abacha, son
Of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, who was the former military Head
Of State, Following the release of Mohammed Abacha
The son of late Gen. Abacha who died in power in 1998, by the
Federal Government of Nigeria and the Agreement reached by the
Abacha family and the Federal Government of Nigeria, I write to
Propose to you this urgent operation that will be of mutual
Benefits to both parties involve. The Federal Government of
Nigeria has proposed to the Abacha family to release over one
Billion US Dollars (US$1 Billion) in their possession to the
Government and the government in return will withdraw all the
Charges against them and give them 100 Million US Dollars in as

Hey is not for horses, it’s forbidden

A colleague at Kodak sent out a message with the subject line “Hey fellas!” and so I replied. It bounced back to me, with a message that I had used a “forbidden word” in the subject line. I contacted their postmaster, who replied:
Unfortunately, over 99% of messages that arrive at the gateway with the word “Hey” in the subject line are spam. We’re sorry if this was a problem for the particular message you sent.
In order to protect our employees so that email remains a useful tool,
we sometimes need to filter on seemingly innocuous words.

Now isn’t that a frightening attitude? I mean, don’t false positives fail to “protect” their employees? Their spam fighting system is totally broken, and of course, they don’t see it that way.

Ahhh, corporate IT folks. Lovely.

Future Hero/Heroine

Dear Stevep,
FUTURE Hero/Heroine of our forthcoming film,

Dhari Films Pvt. Ltd. invites young boys & girls to participate in the Talent-Search for a prestigious big budget HINDI feature film.
The Talent-Search is aimed at enhancing the individual talent with respect to his/her attitudes, perceptions and dilemmas, and harnessing the energy of the acting to create a successful ACTOR/ACTRESS in a healthy atmosphere. The focus is on strengthening one’s core, the firmness of one’s ability and the blossoming of one’s potential. The course-programmed (after the selection) stimulates commitment to one’s harmony and happiness that vexing problems though not solve, often dissolve under the guidance of Experts.
This talent-search is tailored exclusively for young talents. This search will not only give you the break to realize your dreams come true, but will help you boosting your positive attitudes and release an effusion of creativity and a deep sense of rejoicing within both yourself and your ability as an actor or actress, resulting in a favorable change in your work culture throughout your acting-career.
The Minimum Requirements:
1.Minimum Age Should be 18, but not more than 25 years.
2.Should speak HINDI.
3.Should know dance.
4.Should have sense of at least imitating.
& above all judge yourself that you can be HERO/ HEROINE or not.


I’ve just installed POPFile which may begin to eliminate my ridiculous spam load. I’ve been getting a lot, as everyone has. It has seemed to have leaped in frequency since the start of the War, for some reason.

POPFile is an automatic mail classification tool. Once properly set up and trained, it will work in the background of your computer, scanning mail as it arrives and filing it however you wish. You can give it a simple job, like separating out junk e-mail, or a complicated one – like filing mail into a dozen folders. Think of it as a personal assistant for your inbox.


Dear Friend

If this describes you …
1. You have a positive mental attitude
2. You are focused on being the best you can be
3. You fly with the eagles and avoid the turkeys
4. You hate the negative Ôø?BSÔø? thatÔø?s sprouted on TV and in newspapers
5. You are totally focused on being the best you can be

Then tgiMondays is definitely for you.

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green coffee beans spam

This is a hysterically strange spam:

To: steve@
Subject: Wanted wholesale purchase of green coffee beans

Hello, I did a search in Google, for “coffee bean distributors”, and your site and e-mail was presented. I am looking to purchase wholesale, green coffee beans. If this e-mail address for you is correct for the search/list and you selll wholesale, green coffee beans, would you please advise me of your wholesale, bulk pricinging? If the Google search and list of your site was incorrect for my request, please disregard this request for information to you. Sincerely, M. Denver


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