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Wasting Time with Junk E-Mail


In recent times, I've found myself receiving e-mail messages asking me to post links on various pages available from this server. So far, one hasn't been in regard to anything I've actually written, and neither one was even remotely relevant to the pages in question. (That's why I didn't say "people have sent me", because I doubt any people were involved once the actual copy was written. Being that far off the mark strongly suggests automation and software is involved somewhere.)

The usual junk mail I receive generally comes from sellers of lasers and laser safety equipment in the Pacific Rim and probably as a result of my hosting a mirror of the Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ. The rest generally comes from some very misguided Russians and I have no idea what it's about, being as I don't know any of the Russian language.

Here's the most recent (as of this writing) of those messages. (Both of these arrived in late April of 2017.)

Hi,

I remember being a kid and feeling overwhelmed with fire safety lessons - they were taught at home AND at school, and they were a subject of many a PSA that came on television when I thought I was tuning in for something a little more light-hearted. But as I’ve gotten older, and through the work I do for senior wellness, I appreciate how much it was emphasized during childhood.

And the learning shouldn’t stop once we grow up!

Fire safety is an important - and frankly, a lifesaving - topic, whether we’re talking about fires that start in the home or those that ignite outside. With that in mind, can you do me a favor, and look over the information below? If you see anything you think is helpful on the topic, I’d sincerely appreciate you adding it to your site - maybe this page (http://greyghost.mooo.com/repairfaq/sam/audiofaq.htm), or one that you think would be more appropriate!

[table of links and titles removed mainly for space reasons]

As I said, I don’t think this is a topic we talk about enough, so if you’d like something more in-depth to share on your site, let me know. Maybe I could write a story on fire safety for you, or send you additional information to share?

Thanks in advance!

All the best,

Richard

Richard Wright
2885 Sanford Ave SW #35235 / Grandville, MI 49418
P.S. If you’d rather I didn’t reach out in the future, please send me an email letting me know!

I can't quite figure out the angle here. Most junk mail is sent in the hope of making a profit in some direct ("click these affilliate links!", "buy some illicit pills that are probably fake!", "you've won a million dollars in the Nigerian lottery!") or indirect ("visit this web page that I've festooned with all manner of advertisements!") way. All of the links I removed point to disparate sites on the web, whose maintainers almost certainly have no involvement in this. (Certainly neither FEMA nor the University of Wyoming would be involved in such dubious behavior.) They're not bounced through any kind of tracking system along the way. (A possible screwup on the part of the sender?)

(A possiblility that came to mind about a day after I'd first written this page was that of a spammer "improving" the quality of their collected addresses. It works: there are a lot of people who think that "unsubscribing" from a message they never signed up to receive will actually result in that happening. If someone did reply to what looks like a fairly normal message, it could confirm that their address is good and should remain on the list.)

2885 Sanford Avenue SW in Grandville, MI, assuming Google Maps and Street View is accurate, is a building that looks to consist of multiple business suites. One of these seems to be a mail scanning service -- mail sent to a particular box at that address is digitized and made available to someone. Obviously whoever that is would much rather we didn't know who they are. This address seems to attract more than its fair share of dubious activities as a result.

Searching the web (again, as of this writing) doesn't turn up very much, other than a church whose contact form is being abused by spammers of all sorts.

I'd have probably thought nothing more of it, were it not for something niggling at me, saying "this looks awfully familiar". And sure enough, going back to my inbox, I found another one! Sent about a week prior to the first, this one read much the same way:

Hello there,

While the world continues to do a better job of acknowledging the needs of those who are disabled, accessibility continues to be an obstacle. Just because someone is physically challenged doesn’t mean they should have fewer resources. In fact, they should have more!

In my own research, I have found a wealth of information that I think needs to be shared with others. Let’s help eliminate the needle-in-the-haystack situation and put this information out front and center. What do you think? Can I count on you to help me share these resources? Maybe here: http://greyghost.mooo.com/cdrepair/?

[table of links and titles removed mainly for space reasons]

I appreciate you taking the time to help with making the world more accessible to others, and I thank
you for your consideration.

Best,

Martin

Martin Block
2885 Sanford Ave SW, Grandville, MI 49418

P.S. If you’d prefer not to be contacted in the future, please send me an email to let me know.

Here again the URLs don't point to any kind of a referral or tracking service through which monitoring could take place. Another web search turns up two results instead of just one. Only two of the URLs featured in each message point to the same sites: Redfin.com and a Dodge dealer in La Grange, Indiana. Neither site appears to have been compromised, and the articles referenced are still up on both sites.

Both messages were delivered with plain text and HTML versions. There's nothing insidious in the HTML version that I can see. Each one came from a different domain, though the ownership information is cloaked identically between the two.

So...here again, I'm completely baffled by the purpose of these messages. They're very obviously junk mail, but what's the angle of the scam they're trying to pull? One message seems to suggest that they'd like to write something for hire, but the other says nothing about doing this. There's also this from Spamhaus, although it pains me to even mention them, since I think they are really kind of arrogant in the "all of the power and none of the responsibility" sense. (Mind you, I hate spam and junk mail as much as the next guy. I just don't care for the way in which Spamhaus insulates itself from any responsibility or liability, even when their information is wrong.)

Maybe you know something about this that I don't? I'd certainly be interested in hearing your take on this, or any other page on this site. (No, I won't post links to other sites, unless of course they are relevant to the subject being discussed. Nor do I do link exchanges.)

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Copyright 2017 by William R. Walsh. Some rights reserved. Terms and conditions governing your use or reuse of this material may be found at the top level page. By the way, I actively report any and all unsolicitied commercial e-mails ("spam") sent to any e-mail address published in a page on this system. Last updated 05/28/2017 to fix the bad link pointing to my "contact" page, as discovered by LimestoneFormation some time prior. Never let it be said that I don't get right on reports of problems and mistakes on this site. Sleepy smiley face with coffee and letter.