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#4.01: The “Stopping Spammers” Issue

Everyone talks about stopping spam. We’d rather make life miserable for spammers. Enjoy!

1> Make It Harder To Hide
2> Cut Off The Cash
3> Cut Off Their Customers
4> Stop The Stolen Lists
5> Before You Call To Yell At Us

1> Make It Harder To Hide

Let’s make it much harder to register a domain under a fake address and phone number. Spammers hide behind layers of web sites, fake emails, and dummy domains — and you can’t stop them from sending spam if you can’t find them. The number one hiding place for spammers is behind fake names, addresses, and phone numbers that they use when they register for a domain name. Nothing is more frustrating for a spammer-hunter than finding that the owner of a domain is “John Doe, 123 Main Street, 555-555-1212.” Thousands of other spammers seem to live at MailBoxes Etc. The domain name registries should step up to the plate and require some level of address or identity verification. It’s doable — the web-security certification companies do a great job of this. You could make this verification optional, and issue a certification code to verified domain name owners. That would allow ISPs to only deliver email from verified domains.

THE LESSON: Scumbags, sleazebags, and porn kings love anonymity.

2> Cut Off The Cash

What ever happened to those ever-present 900-number services? The phone companies killed them. Phone-sex companies collected their fees through your phone bill. In the mid-1990s, the long-distance carriers decided they weren’t going to be the middle man — they more or less said that they would let any consumer refuse to pay any bill for pay-per-call services. The legit marketers were fine; the porno guys starved (and moved online). We can do the same with spammers. In the end, every spammer is trying to close a sale with a credit card. Let’s all put pressure on the merchant account providers to cut off the accounts for major abusers. They cancel merchant accounts all the time for fraud or misuse; let them stop being the collection agent for spammers.

THE LESSON: It’s not about email — it’s about money. No money, no spam.

3> Cut Off Their Customers

Spammers don’t make much money from consumers — they make it from border-line advertisers that keep the money flowing. The first group are pseudo-legitimate marketers who use spamming services, often on a pay-per-click basis. There are dozens of spam brokers who pose as legitimate online media buyers, serving as the middle-man so advertisers can claim that they don’t know they are using spam lists. We know five brokers that move at least $10,000,000 per year from advertisers to spammers. A typical example is an insurance broker we know, affiliated with all the major carriers, who spends $80,000 per month buying spam lists. They claim that their broker makes all the buying decisions and they don’t know where the lists come from. If you don’t know where your lists come from, you can assume they are spam. Advertisers: You should know better. When you get too-good-to-be-true pricing, on a risk-free basis, you are bankrolling spammers. Pretending you are ignorant doesn’t make you innocent. Think about this next time someone emails pedophilia and bestiality to your daughter — you could be keeping that guy in business.

4> Stop The Stolen Lists

Your email address is being sold again and again, on CDs offering millions of email addresses for hundreds of dollars. It’s bad enough that spammers buy these lists and bombard you. Worse is the fact that even if you can get off one spammer’s list, you never get removed from the original CD — which gets sold to new spammers every day. There are two solutions. First, go after the CD sellers. Those are stolen lists being fraudulently marketed as containing opt-in names. Theft and fraud are crimes. Tell the Attorney General that chasing spammers is like chasing drug lords — cut off the suppliers. Second, the email delivery services and ISP can implement programs to screen out these spam lists. Several email hosts have developed algorithms that compare any list uploaded (or delivered) to their server to known spam lists. They block delivery if too many email address match. It’s a great solution because it stops scuzzbags and naive marketers who don’t realize that they are using a stolen lists without impacting legitimate emailers.

5> Before You Call To Yell At Us

We’re just sharing some interesting thoughts here, trying to propose useful solutions. We do realize that these issues are very complex. Our short little newsletter doesn’t allow us to get into all the legal, financial, and civil rights issues related to our suggestions — but we are aware that these issues exist.

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Comments

  1. How To Stop Spam

    Spammers spam because we buy what they’re selling. Seth Godin sums it up: You get what you pay for. If you don’t want spam in your inbox, never respond, never buy anything. Not even if it’s a good deal. We’re

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