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How to Become A Spammer

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the or-just-look-like-one dept.

Spam 460

permeablepdx points to this story in The Oregonian about how to become a spammer. Summary: "Local Oregon boy makes big bucks after learning from the Spam masters."

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460 comments

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fp (-1, Troll)

greg987 (624979) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931273)

fp

spam? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931276)

i dont like spam.

first post??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931280)

I am a spammer, yay!

Text of Article, In Case of Slashdotting... (4, Funny)

Murdock037 (469526) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931281)

Steps to become a better spammer:

1. Insert head in ass
2. Click "send"
3. Profit!

Re:Text of Article, In Case of Slashdotting... (4, Funny)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931489)

How to cause hell for an ex spammer.

1. Post his new new web business address on slashdot: http://www.defibworld.com [defibworld.com]

2. Stand back.

"He created and began maintaining an e-commerce Web site, www.defibworld.com, on which they sell the devices worldwide.

He realizes that he probably could spread the word of his site more quickly by sending bulk e-mail, but he won't. Any spam mentioning his site, he said, would result in complaints that would force his service provider to shut it down. But he has other reasons for not using his spamming equipment.

"Bulk e-mail has the stigma of being trash,"


Yeah, buddy, i forgive you. No wait... Hey scumbag, thanks for ruining the internet!

It doesn't seem terribly complicated (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931284)

Find a product you want to sell or a scam you want to run, find some exploitable mail servers and find a list of email addresses. Then just run a mass emailing program. What's the big deal?

Re:It doesn't seem terribly complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931576)

you should really read the article first

Article text (posting AC): (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931288)

VIAGRA, KICK START YOUR SEX LIFE NOW! . . . By clicking here, you can instantly access hundreds of the nation's top insurance companies . . . It enables people to burn more fat doing nothing.

Until late last year, Shiels was an e-mail spammer. The type demonized in every nook of American society. A prodigious Internet marketer, who from his Portland home sent up to 10 million unsolicited e-mail advertisements a day for other companies.

He said he made as much as $1,000 a week -- and could have raked in a lot more if he hadn't quit the business in October, six months after he started. The path to spamming success requires expensive investments in software and the agility to adjust to the technological warfare between spammers and companies that try to block their messages. It also requires the stamina to withstand daily hate mail and even death threats.

Shiels decided a spamming career wasn't worth the personal cost. But his story, which he agreed to share with The Oregonian, shows the challenge that consumer advocates and government leaders face as they try eradicate spam. The Oregon House on Tuesday unanimously passed anti-spam legislation. Most other states also have tackled the problem, but nobody seems to know how to solve it.

As the war on spam trods along, public frustration grows.

Even after installing software to filter spam, many e-mail users must wade through dozens of unwanted e-mail messages a day, which slows the fast-paced communications that made the Internet rise to prominence. Ferris Research estimates fighting and sorting through spam will cost U.S. corporations $10 billion this year.

When lawmakers and companies fight spam, they're not up against teenage hobbyists and pranksters. They face thousands of pros like Shiels, who have high-tech tools and an immense network of knowledge that is difficult to overcome.

"All the little punks in their garage who are trying it are not getting anywhere," Shiels said. "The ones sending you all the stuff are the big boys, the ones who do it for a living."

The fast-talking ex-spammer, at a sturdy 6 feet, doesn't resemble the picture of an antisocial digital anarchist spamming from a dark basement. That's the image painted by legislators, Internet companies and frustrated e-mail users.

Duncan Shiels, 41, was raised in an upscale neighborhood in Portland's West Hills. Wide glasses, light brown hair and a neatly trimmed goatee frame a genial face. He left his hometown to become a Hollywood stuntman and then a police officer before returning five years ago as a budding Internet entrepreneur.

Entering a murky world In 1998, Shiels quit his patrol sergeant job at the Adelanto Police Department in Southern California and moved back home to Portland to start a full-time career in Web design, a hobby he had been dabbling in for five years.

He said he succeeded early on, with a small business that employed two other people. But Shiels saw business fall off in the past few years. Prices plunged because "everybody became a Web designer."

By early last year, he needed a new source of cash. He noticed about 100 spam messages flooding his e-mail account each day. Instead of complaining about it, he wanted to learn how the anonymous salespeople earn a living. Someone is making money off this, he reasoned. Why shouldn't it be him?

He began a quest that would lead to a six-month career in spamming.

Shiels had never purchased anything advertised in a spam message, but he knew that some people must.

"It's just another form of advertising," he explained, laughing. "Granted, the stuff that's being sold, it's not very intriguing."

He'd heard enough complaints about spam from his friends, but he never understood them. The junk mail his mail carrier delivers bothers him much more, Shiels said.

"It costs money to be processed. And it's a waste of trees. It's intrusive as hell because you have to go through all of it. People don't get mad about that, and I don't understand why," he mused.

They do complain about spam.

Companies report that the average employee complains about spam to corporate information technology departments at least once a year, said Ferris Research, which tracks e-mail issues. Internet service providers also say they receive more complaints about spam than anything else.

When Shiels told his family and friends he was pursuing a career in spam, "they just laughed."

But Shiels has long been up for new career adventures.

A numbers game Consumer advocacy groups often define all unsolicited, usually commercial e-mail as spam, a reference to the Monty Python skit in which Vikings repeatedly and annoyingly shout "spam." But Shiels said the underground industry balks at the stigmatic moniker. Those who send spam, he said, refer to it as "bulk e-mail."

Like most serious bulk e-mailers, Shiels didn't immediately begin sending advertisements. He researched the industry for five months before sending his first e-mail message.

The learning process was tough. After weeks of online searches, Shiels found the entry point -- online clubs for spammers. The Internet bulletin boards, which charge membership fees, allow "bulk e-mail" entrepreneurs to exchange information on clients who need people to send bulk ads via e-mail, software that helps them send it and tips for getting spam around filters (the enemy) and onto recipients' screens (the moneymaker).

As with most cases in the seedy world of bulk online advertising, many spam clubs aren't "legitimate," Shiels said. But he found two that offered many business leads and spamming tools.

"There's a lot of people in there that are generous to help you out and give you information based on their experience," he said. "But you have to probe it."

Shiels slowly gained the anonymous spamming gurus' trust.

He even spoke on the phone with some, though Shiels noted "they won't usually give you their real name."

Many were software developers or, like him, longtime Web designers familiar with the Internet's intricacies.

In the spam club, he encountered companies looking for people to send e-mail about their products, including loans, insurance offers and the prescription drug Viagra and similar products.

Many online pornography companies seek spammers, but Shiels said he didn't even consider hawking porn.

"I didn't do any adult stuff because I don't believe in that," Shiels said. "I have a 7-year-old boy."

The response rate is extremely low: One-tenth of a percentage point is considered wildly successful, Shiels and spam experts agree. For spammers, that's made up for by the ability to send millions of e-mails a day and the relatively generous commissions.

Viagra distributors pay spammers per sale -- about $60 for every $150 order -- while financial companies typically pay for every consumer who requests more information -- as much as $12 for mortgage leads and as much as $5 for insurance referrals, Shiels said.

"It's a numbers game," Shiels said.

With a few computers, that numbers game becomes easy to play. Shiels met people in the spam club who had as many as 15 computers sending hundreds of millions of messages a day, increasing their chances of snaring sales and referral payouts.

The numbers game also explains the rapidly growing number of spam messages. The University of Oregon's computing department said it blocks about 25,000 spam messages a day.

According to Jupiter Research, the average U.S. e-mail recipient received 669 spam messages in 2000. That figure, which includes home and business accounts, surged to 2,278 last year, and Jupiter expects it to reach 2,551 this year.

Ready, set, spam Armed with swaths of information, Shiels purchased four computers and two cable-modem connections, which soon were running above full capacity with only about six hours of rest each day. But that was just the beginning of the investments.

He spent about $10,000 on software to harvest e-mail addresses, to disguise his online identity and to send millions of messages a day.

Shiels would not reveal the companies that make the proprietary software, and he said they are difficult to track down. They only accepted payments through wire transfers, Shiels said.

"I could tell you the name right now, and you wouldn't be able to find them," he said.

Shiels described the complex technology that keeps spammers ahead of those who try to stifle them, and The Oregonian verified his technical explanations with experts from the University of Oregon; InboxCop.com, a Portland company that makes spam filters; and spamhouse.org, one of the nation's most prominent anti-spam Web sites.

Even those in the underground spamming world who say they abide by the law desire complete anonymity. Anti-spam Web sites list information about spammers, and vigilantes reportedly have threatened and harassed them.

Understanding Shiels' software is key to understanding why spam is so difficult to fight.

His most basic program coordinates the four computers and enables them to send thousands of e-mail messages a minute, culling e-mail addresses from one database and sending them messages he designed.

But to send e-mail, he needed addresses of recipients. Another program harvests e-mail addresses from Web sites. That's why people with e-mail addresses listed on public Web pages will likely receive floods of spam.

Besides scanning Web pages for e-mail addresses, it also searches Internet newsgroups -- public bulletin boards. And it automatically deletes addresses that have such phrases as "info" and "service," those that likely don't immediately bounce to an actual person. It also tests for unpublished addresses by combining user names -- the portions of e-mail addresses before the @ symbol -- with domain names of other addresses.

To get started, Shiels also paid colleagues from the spammer clubs for a list of e-mail addresses. Ten million addresses cost about $1,200, he said.

"There are people in the industry that sell addresses and there are people that send, and they're usually never combined because both are full-time jobs," Shiels said.

He said he shot out as many as 10 million messages in one day, often reusing addresses.

"The idea is it's just like a commercial," Shiels said. "You don't just send it to one address once. You send it to one address five or six times. Do commercials only come on once? You get the same crap in your e-mail more than once. You have to bombard the person."

With the sending software installed and configured properly, Shiels never even had to hit the "send" button. The computers automatically pulled e-mail addresses from the Web and sent messages about 18 hours a day.

Because the hyperactivity caused a crash about every other day, Shiels monitored the computers all day. But his larger job was staying in touch with the companies that employed him and making sure his software was updated enough to dodge spam filters.

Clogging the filters Spam filtering software is the most oft-used tool in the fight against bulk e-mail. It creates blacklists of millions of e-mail addresses that send spam, as well as the Internet addresses of the computers where spam originates.

Just as in an arms war, though, professional spammers counterattack.

Even with the sending and harvesting software in place, Shiels shelled out thousands more dollars for two other programs, which disguised him and helped prevent filters from blocking his messages.

Without them, recipients easily could have reported Shiels to his Internet service provider, which may have shut down his Internet connection. Even if he stayed online, spam filters would quickly blacklist his Internet address.

One piece of software searched for and directed his computers to "open proxies," unguarded computers that enabled anyone from the outside to send mail through them. Often outside of the United States, open proxies made Shiels anonymous, because the spam appeared to be originating in those computers, even though it was only passing through.

Every piece of e-mail carries a header, which specifies the message's path, from sender to recipient. When spammers use open proxies, the messages appear to be originating from the off-shore computers, not from the spammers.

But filtering software companies have cataloged hundreds of thousands of open proxies throughout the world and have created programs to block e-mail that comes directly from them. So once Shiels masked his messages through open proxies, he used another program to find "open relays," the messages' last stop before reaching a recipient.

Relay servers exist on all e-mail systems, and they route messages to the proper address within a company. But some insecure relays are left "open," enabling anyone from the outside to send messages through them to any other outside address.

Companies soon shut down open relays, but so many exist that the software rotates them quickly.

"I know this all sounds like you're hiding yourself and doing this illegitimately, but the reason you have to do it is everybody tries to shut you down," Shiels said.

And with such software programs, it became more difficult for filter programs to block e-mail messages.

"You can talk about these people that come out with spam filters," Shiels said. "They're going to come out with something that will limit it to a degree, but then the bulk e-mailers are just going to counteract by indicating that Trinity dies in Matrix 2. It's a war is what it is. That's why the software is so expensive."

Playing by the law Even amid the spam war, Shiels said, he went out of his way to comply with the various antispam laws.

"Legal" spamming was more time consuming, he said, because it required him to obey all requests to stop sending spam. But it didn't reduce the amount of money he received.

At the end of each e-mail message, he included a link to an address customers could e-mail if they want to be removed from the database. Some state laws require such options.

Shiels maintained hundreds of e-mail accounts that received the removal requests. Some spammers, he said, use the removal requests as proof that those addresses reach real people and increase the spam. But Shiels entered each address into his database for removal.

"It gets filtered down to finally where you'd have to get new e-mail addresses," Shiels said.

And he also avoided sending misleading subject lines, a violation of some states' laws, including the one being considered in Oregon. Some spammers send messages with such titles as "Hey, I haven't heard from you in a while," even though the message advertises Viagra or pornography. But Shiels alluded to the product in every subject line. For example, a Viagra e-mail would carry a title such as "Make her happy, she'll love you forever."

Shiels knew that if a subject line included the word "viagra," a filter would quickly block the e-mail or the recipient wouldn't open it.

"I tried to be creative -- ads that related to the product without divulging the product," Shiels said.

He designed many of the e-mail messages, drawing on his Web development background, though some of the companies requested he send their templates. His e-mail sending software cycled through about 30 subject lines and about 20 message designs for each product.

Lawmakers continue to pursue legislation that would make it more difficult for spammers to do their jobs. But Shiels doesn't think they would have had any effect on him.

The Oregon bill would prohibit spammers from forging their e-mail addresses, which Shiels never did. It also would forbid deceptive subject lines, which Shiels never used.

It does require spammers to begin subject lines with the "ADV:" code, but Shiels doesn't think that law would be enforceable unless he had any way of knowing the recipient is in Oregon. And critics say the law allows people to sue spammers who don't use ADV: only for as much as $10, so some critics say the law would bring little action.

Canning the spam Once the software was set up and he began to perfect his game of dodge-the-filter, Shiels was making a comfortable living with spam, though the work was tough.

"I would say it's the hardest thing I ever tried to do," Shiels said. "Becoming a cop, that's instinctive. That's knowledge, and if you don't have some of the natural instincts, you're not going to pull it off. But this is an ever-changing evolutionary problem."

And he knew that if he added more computers and software, he could make even more than $1,000 a week. Other members of the spam club told him that they made upward of $10,000 a week, he said.

But he couldn't ignore the hundreds of daily e-mail messages that came into his e-mail accounts. Unlike the ones he sent, these were quite personalized.

The messages were filled with expletives, and some even threatened his life, he said. One man obtained his phone number and called, threatening legal action about five times, Shiels said.

"There's people who sit in their basements and have nothing better to do than get all upset about spam," Shiels said.

Still, he couldn't ignore them. In fact, they helped sway him out of the business.

"I realized I didn't like to sell anything that nobody wants or needs or despises," he said. "I started to realize people just hate this so much."

Shiels wanted to exit the spam world, and he discovered a perfect out.

A partner in his old Web development business also had dabbled in the medical equipment sales business. Because of changes to some state laws, defibrillator sales are on the rise.

So he created and began maintaining an e-commerce Web site, www.defibworld.com, on which they sell the devices worldwide.

He realizes that he probably could spread the word of his site more quickly by sending bulk e-mail, but he won't. Any spam mentioning his site, he said, would result in complaints that would force his service provider to shut it down. But he has other reasons for not using his spamming equipment.

"Bulk e-mail has the stigma of being trash," he said. "That I don't want to associate with a legitimate business." Jeffrey Kosseff: 503-294-7605; jeffkosseff@news.oregonian.com

does this really require a readme.txt?? (2, Informative)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931289)

all you need is a database of email addresses, a DSL connection, and a mass mailing program. You can send out a million spams an hour.

Re:does this really require a readme.txt?? (3, Interesting)

dknj (441802) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931400)

I was one of the first people to bring spam to AOL. I wrote a program that would jump from chat room to chat room all day and just collect screen names. I would let the program run while I was at school and usually over night (only had one phone line, V.FAST baby). I sold the addresses to businesses and collected a pretty penny while in high school. My mom never believed where I was getting the money and thought I was selling drugs :\ My days of spam came to an end when I found something else to occupy my time. In fact, I never saw spam as something cool.. just an easy way to make money at the time

-dk

Re:does this really require a readme.txt?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931422)

You make me sick.

Re:does this really require a readme.txt?? (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931443)

Span exists because of pigs like you.

You just did it to make some money? Spammers do it just to make some money, and if I trace them I'll sue their ass dry.

Re:does this really require a readme.txt?? (2, Insightful)

spacefight (577141) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931564)

One word: Asshole.

Re:does this really require a readme.txt?? (5, Interesting)

sidster (16063) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931446)

I think there is more to it than having bandwidth and software.
You must have quite a few clients willing to pay you
for your "services".

Otherwise, every friend and coworker I have can be a spammer.
Each one of these persons have either a DSL or Cable modem
connection, and most are proficient with computers.

What they (my friends) lack are people willing to pay them for
sending out spam (oh, yeah, another thing working aginst their
success as spammers is morality).

To fight spam and spammers successfully, i think, we must
fight the source and not the messanger (= spammer). That
is finding out who is actually paying for the spam being sent
out and "pound" on them.

I've been fighting spam for several years now. I use RBLs
and ORDBs and even have blacklisted close to 14000 IP
addresses in addition to using spam-filters. But the spam
keeps coming in.

Re:does this really require a readme.txt?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931508)

How do you get the email addresses? What do you do when your DSL connection gets shut down? And what do you sell?

spam & mail (1)

ramzak2k (596734) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931291)

ex-spammer seems to not understand why they are worse than bulk mail. Email spam cost us money and bandwidth on our end, bulk mail dont. Besides, its much easier to sort out legitimate snail mails from bulk & they always carry some amount of legitimacy with it that email spam can never provide. Fp ?! :)

Re:spam & mail (4, Interesting)

Sebby (238625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931348)

"Email spam cost us money and bandwidth on our end, bulk mail dont"

Not entirely true. Most cities (including mine) have a recycling program (and most likely a cost-per-bag for garbage); every pound of recycling will end up costing you something in your taxes somewhere, so the more you have, the more cost to recycling, the more of your money in taxes.

So while bulk mailers pay for sending it, it's still costing you to dispose of it.

Re:spam & mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931440)

But through the lower cost of sending your own regular mail, you make back that money.

Re:spam & mail (4, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931553)

Which is why I send it back to them. Postage paid business reply? Right back in the box. Ads and such that come with my gas card bill, etc.? back in the envelope with my payment.

Yeah, its not much, but at least I'm sending a little more $ to the USPS for the PP mail, and I'm having the sending company use their resources to dispose of the trash they shouldn't have sent me.

Re:spam & mail (1)

Sebby (238625) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931581)

Yeah I do the same thing, when ever I can (not all junk mail have return envelopes)

Obviously, the cost of junk mail is probably much less than spam in the long run (depending on how much you get of each), but neither is truely 'zero'.

Re:spam & mail (2, Informative)

Golias (176380) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931349)

He also doesn't seem to realize that he made his thousands by sending messages about penis enlargement to young children's e-mail boxes.

Furthermore, he doesn't seem to realize that Spam makes the entire infrastructure of the Internet more expensive.

I don't care if he got out of it because he couldn't stand the heat. Assholes like him, each getting into it for a year or two and then getting out, are what keeps the problem going. I would very much like to punch this guy in the throat.

Re:spam & mail (1)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931518)

Email spam cost us money and bandwidth on our end, bulk mail dont.

No, you have your reasoning backward. Email spam doesn't cost us money any more than bulk mail does. Sure, if it fills up our pipe, or mailbox, we have to get a bigger pipe, or mailbox.

But the real difference between bulk mail and email spam is that the sender isn't paying any money. If the USPS delivered postal mail for free, it would be exactly the same situation.

Jeez (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931308)

"The idea is it's just like a commercial," Shiels said. "You don't just send it to one address once. You send it to one address five or six times. Do commercials only come on once? You get the same crap in your e-mail more than once. You have to bombard the person."

And they wonder why they get death threats.

Re:Jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931483)

Here is his web site. Everyone on slashdot click here [defibworld.com] . Payback is a bitch.....

Re:Jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931529)

I expect we'll read about a DDoS on this site in the next few days. Someone on Slashdot seems to have an army of drones..

In other news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931315)

Next week its how to be a pimp, followed the week after by "mugging for fun and profit".

information wants to be free (4, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931402)

Sure its ok to post the source to DeCSS but now all of a sudden you don't like the SPAMMER-HOWTO? Thats odd I thought you didn't have a problem with it just being information and all.

Re:information wants to be free (2, Insightful)

datavortex (132049) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931450)

I don't disagree with their posting of the information, but I am disappointed at the persepctive of the article. It seems to glamorize spammers, I would have liked more commentary from the antispammers, and it would have been nice if they hadn't screwed up their info, such as the link to SPAMHAUS.ORG, not freakin' spamhouse.org.

DeCSS has legal uses... (5, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931460)

Such as watching DVD movies on operating systems with no DVD playing software. Where as spamming is always a pain in the butt.

Before DeCSS you would not be able to watch a DVD on Linux. Before spamming it was possible to let kids use email with no fears of them seeing obscene things, you can't now. Which is the biggest menace, I'll let you decide.

Re:information wants to be free (0)

sidster (16063) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931493)

Maybe the poster you are replying to has a problem with the "glorification" of this guy as a former spammer and not the "HOW-TO" bit.

Would you also be offended if someone objected to an interview with a murderer explaining the how's, when's, whom's and where's of committing his or her crimes?

I mean, that would be "information and all" as you put it.

How do you... (4, Funny)

bazik (672335) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931328)

"How do you torture a spammer" would be more interesting.

Maybe tie him up on a light post and throw AOL CD's at him?

Re:How do you... (4, Funny)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931571)

Personally, I think it would be more dramatic to tie him down and place one AOL CD at a time on his chest, eventually crushing him under the weight of 100 million disks. Talk about bulk email!

In the article, it says... (5, Funny)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931333)

He'd heard enough complaints about spam from his friends, but he never understood them. The junk mail his mail carrier delivers bothers him much more, Shiels said.

"It costs money to be processed. And it's a waste of trees. It's intrusive as hell because you have to go through all of it. People don't get mad about that, and I don't understand why," he mused.


Is anyone else thinking what I am thinking?

Re:In the article, it says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931352)

That he's a clueless idiot that doesn't get the fact that it costs the people sending it money and helps keep the cost of regular mail lower?

Re:In the article, it says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931383)

Yeah, but I couldn't find him on anywho. Maybe somebody in Portland can get an address.

maybe ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931419)

Duncan Shiels (support@mousehousestudios.com)
503.702.7466
FAX : none
#301 6663 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy
Portland, OR 97225
US

Re:maybe ? (1)

UncleSocks (243734) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931561)

Thanks! I am so there!

java script and flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931585)

That site has a "forbidden" /images directory, FYI and FWIW.

heh

heh heh

Re:In the article, it says...P&B. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931484)

"Is anyone else thinking what I am thinking?"

Pinky:"Yes, but were are we going to get rubber pants this hour?"

Re:In the article, it says... (1)

Hanji (626246) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931490)

Anyone got the address?

Re:In the article, it says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931521)

Duncan Shiels (support@mousehousestudios.com) 503.702.7466 FAX: none #301 6663 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy Portland, OR 97225 US

Re:In the article, it says... (1)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931492)

Disclaimer: I am not in any way, shape, or form advocating mass mailing him either with 'real' mail or e-mail. I am just pointing out irony here. ;)

Thanks Slashdot! (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931335)

Just what we need! To teach more people this valuable trade.... But really, it won't be worth it. In a few years, so many people will be into it that the companies will have the upper hand on who to hire to get the message out........ and unless you have lists of email addresses in the hundreds of millions it won't be worth it. Besides, your customers will be limited to porn or those sleazy as-seen-on-TV type products. I suggest reading some advertising books, since that is the trade, and finding a more novel way to apply it to the net if you want to make real money.

online clubs? (5, Interesting)

scubacuda (411898) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931336)

...Shiels found the entry point -- online clubs for spammers. The Internet bulletin boards, which charge membership fees, allow "bulk e-mail" entrepreneurs to exchange information on clients...

Where are these things? I'm sure tons of /.ers would love to go in and wreck havoc on them.

Re:online clubs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931382)

Where are these things? I'm sure tons of /.ers would love to go in and wreck havoc on them.

Or at least Slashdot them a little.

Re:online clubs? (1)

datavortex (132049) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931426)

I think the /. readers control enough of the world's bandwith to make their presense felt, if you know what I mean.

Re:online clubs? (2, Insightful)

NotAnotherReboot (262125) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931568)

If they make you pay, you'd actually have to give them money in an attempt to bother them. Then, when you try to bother them, they just remove you account and keep your money.

If you're implying some denial of service attack, I don't really think you're any better than they are.

Re:online clubs? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931607)

i got no problems with d0sing spammers/pornographers :P let em rot in hell
PZ

hmm (5, Informative)

revmoo (652952) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931338)

What I find most interesting about this is that the article says that Sheils made over $1000 a week. That just amazes me that there are that many stupid people out there, that actually purchase products from UCE.

I mean, just on principle alone, I will never purchase something that I get spammed about, and I would think that most people feel the same way, so that just makes me wonder, who DOES buy this stuff? It's those people that are to blame for the continued onslaught of spam. If no one bought their stuff, they wouldn't waste their time(and ours) anymore

Just a thought

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931364)

If you had a small penis too, you'd be desperate enough to buy anything spammed.

Re:hmm (4, Interesting)

treat (84622) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931367)

What I find most interesting about this is that the article says that Sheils made over $1000 a week. That just amazes me that there are that many stupid people out there, that actually purchase products from UCE.

What I find more interesting is that trivial software was being sold for many many thousands of dollars. He must have spent $20K on software. Are spammers themselves that stupid?

Re:hmm (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931411)

Actually, he said he got $12 per lead for lonas - lets see - a hundred friends, 1200 split 2 ways is $600 for almost no work (except maybe listening to a sales pitch). Looks like asking about loas could be more lucrative than spamming.

What we need now is a vertical marketing (i.e pyramid scheme) company to sell responses through a network,...

Great idea - kill off the spammers income (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931546)

Mod this guy up... and make it a slashdot article!

Slashdot, for all its whiners and do nothings, could probably net 1k to 10k in volunteers for this.

$60,000 out of other spammers pockets and poisoning a couple of spammers wells should push a couple dozen spammers past the marginalization point..

Re:hmm (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931501)

That many people? With millons of email sends, they are sucessful when they have a 0.1 % response rate... big numbers apply here

Re:hmm (2, Insightful)

alphaseven (540122) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931528)

What I find most interesting about this is that the article says that Sheils made over $1000 a week.

Maybe, but really i believe these guys about as much as those guys on late night tv with the yacht selling real estate advice.

If Sheils is really smart he is probably setting himself up so he can sell software/books to wannabe spammers. He can include articles like this and tell people "Work from home, make money like me."

I don't under stand why... (4, Insightful)

Exanerd (649005) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931353)

> Well first I PAY to have an Internet connection, I do not however, pay for the mail that gets sent to me - thats the mailers responsibility. Also it seems a bit more personal being intruded upon in your own home, than having something sitting in your physical mailbox outside on the step, or the entryway to your building. Personally I think snail mail is far more wasteful in terms of actual resources, I just don't directly pay for it and I don't get as much of it and I can recycle it, but the time I spend sifting through hundreds of ridiculous spam emails a day impacts me more directly.

Re:I don't under stand why... (0, Troll)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931544)

Well first I PAY to have an Internet connection, I do not however, pay for the mail that gets sent to me - thats the mailers responsibility.

Some people pay for the mail that gets sent to them.

Also it seems a bit more personal being intruded upon in your own home, than having something sitting in your physical mailbox outside on the step, or the entryway to your building.

Oh please. You choose to download the spam. Are you intruding upon me in my own home, when I read your slashdot post?

Personally I think snail mail is far more wasteful in terms of actual resources, I just don't directly pay for it and I don't get as much of it and I can recycle it, but the time I spend sifting through hundreds of ridiculous spam emails a day impacts me more directly.

How do you "directly" pay for email spam? The only difference is you happen to get more email spam than snail mail. It takes a lot more time, per piece, to deal with snail mail spam.

Would you trust this guy? (1)

scubacuda (411898) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931376)

Just curious...

Would you trust this guy if he was part of some sort of committee/organization to stop spam?

As much as I hate to make it personal... (4, Insightful)

JimDabell (42870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931387)

Shiels decided a spamming career wasn't worth the personal cost.

There you have it. I wonder if there is a way of applying this cost to every spammer.

Re:As much as I hate to make it personal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931554)

Not legally.

Server Crashes (4, Funny)

micaiah (593598) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931401)

"Because the hyperactivity caused a crash about every other day, Shiels monitored the computers all day."
Hmmm I guess the spam software is running on Windows.

Reputation for sale. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931415)

"Bulk e-mail has the stigma of being trash," he said. "That I don't want to associate with a legitimate business."

So the companies he's whoring for, are illegitmate companies. Now who in their right mind wants to do business with those kinds of company?

Spamming to be the new stockbroker? (1)

NightWulf (672561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931423)

With the start of young men becoming spammers, drawn into the lure of quick and easy money. Is this the 2003 version of luring high schoolers into brokerage firms and cold calling? Promising them quick and easy cash when they become brokers, just now it's spamming?

How to stop it (2, Funny)

Nexus76 (672509) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931433)

Does anybody have a easy and effective way to stop spam mail reach the inbox?

Re:How to stop it-Meat wars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931459)

Actually what is the cutting edge in stopping spam?

Re:How to stop it (1)

datavortex (132049) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931465)

Of course! [tmda.net] Whitelisting (or SMTP2000) is the future, baby.

Re:How to stop it (1)

Foozy (552529) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931545)

Turn off your computer. Duh.

Early adopter or bad reporter? (4, Interesting)

isomeme (177414) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931437)

Entering a murky world In 1998, Shiels quit his patrol sergeant job at the Adelanto Police Department in Southern California and moved back home to Portland to start a full-time career in Web design, a hobby he had been dabbling in for five years.
So he started in 1993, the year the first creaky Mosaic browser began filtering out of the lab? I mean, I consider myself a pretty cutting-edge tech dude, and I didn't build my first site until 1994.

What is truly amazing (4, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931439)

Is that this scumbag doesn't believe he is doing anything wrong.

If he feels that this stuff is so legitimate, why is he using software that abuses open relays and proxies, and forges mail headers, instead of publishing the real address he is sending his spew from? Hmmm?

It's forgery, plain and simple, and there are laws that deal with it. Prosecute the fsckers on it already!!!

Re:What is truly amazing (5, Informative)

datavortex (132049) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931480)

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 covers exploitation of open relays. My company tested this in court against spammer Khan Smith, and we trounced his ass. Using an open relay to send mail is illegal in the states, provided the relay is also in this country. This ex-cop most certainly broke the law.

Re:What is truly amazing (1)

sebmol (217013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931603)

Only with the exception that he even states in the article that he primarily used relays outside of the US.

Well, /that/ explains... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931451)

"I didn't do any adult stuff because I don't believe in that," Shiels said. "I have a 7-year-old boy."

Interesting Read (4, Interesting)

unborracho (108756) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931462)

I have to say that this is a very interesting read. It portrays the spammer's point of view. Some of the points in the article actually make a lot of sense. We do get lots of junk mail from the u.s. post office (they could easily filter that, but they don't), yet we complain about spam the most... why?

I thought that was an interesting point. Although this article doesn't go into too much technical detail, it provided some insight into the business aspects of this which I don't particularly agree with ethically. Sure, it's a very easy way to make money if you know what you're doing, but it's still violating people's privacy by sending them unwanted messages.

Another thought... If your regulary Joe (the guy in this article) can find ways to become a spammer in 5-6 months of research, why can't the government do its own investigations and just put a stop to these facilitating network groups? I thought there were laws against spam in the U.S.

Re:Interesting Read (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931522)

> it's still violating people's privacy

It's also violating their servers with worms & backdoors. So many other violations that are far from ethical and cost everyone except the spammer money. It's called a parasite.

Spammer contact info... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931466)

Okay folks... We need a name, address, satalite photo of home, phone number, and the works for this guy...
Get to work!

Spammers Web site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931470)

Here is his web site. Everyone on slashdot click here [defibworld.com] . Payback is a bitch.....

Conspiracy (4, Funny)

sholden (12227) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931479)

Cleary, this has been posted in an attempt to slashdot the key source that exposes the "Klingon Interpreter Needed In Oregon" 'article' for the misrepresentation that it is.

Best quote: (3, Funny)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931487)

"I know this all sounds like you're hiding yourself and doing this illegitimately, but the reason you have to do it is everybody tries to shut you down," Shiels said.

On another note, anyone got any idea where these "spammer clubs" he mentions might be? I got this new toy [slashdot.org] I wanna try out...

Controlling their money flow (3, Interesting)

unsinged int (561600) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931495)

How about making it illegal for a company to finance a spammer? They are starting to pass laws that make spam illegal, but why not go to the root of the problem? If you're going to make spam illegal, then making it illegal for a company to finance an illegal activity doesn't seem that much of a stretch. In fact, that's probably already covered under some more generic existing law.

If someone receives spam for a product and it could be shown that the company that makes the product financed the spamming, then fine the company some big bucks. It might be hard to prove, but in a lot of cases the fear that it might happen would be enough to stop companies from doing it.

There were some figures in the article indicating how much the spammer got paid per sale or per inquiry about the product. That has to be showing up (probably under some other name) in some company's advertising budget. With the crackdown on corporate accounting I think some of this could be uncovered.

As usual, someone misread the article (3, Informative)

compwizrd (166184) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931496)

How is a 41 year old man called a boy?

Seems rather honest, and upfront. (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931499)

He claims he abides by the laws, and removes people when requested. And refused porn customers...

Also rather intelligent and well spoken.

While his previous 'career' is absolute scum, at least he took it seriously, as a legitimate business..

I'm impressed, too bad not most of the rest don't have his level of 'morality', and 'responsibility'.

As much as we all hate it, ( I know I do, both at home and due to my position at work ) as long as its legal, it will continue to be a large part of net-life.

Are you on crack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931525)

So once Shiels masked his messages through open proxies, he used another program to find "open relays," the messages' last stop before reaching a recipient.

He was using other people's systems and fraudulently identifying himself. That's hardly honest. Would you also commend a murderer because at least he killed his victims quickly?

Re:Seems rather honest, and upfront. (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931595)

at least he took it seriously, as a legitimate business..

Because we all know, legitimate businesses need to forge return paths by exploiting open relays and proxies, which is illegal in many states, despite his claim that he abided by the law.

He probably was in violation of his ISP terms of service too.

This quote says it all (2, Funny)

philll (460796) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931505)

Here's a quote from the guy: "There's people who sit in their basements and have nothing better to do than get all upset about spam."

What total assholes these people are.

A clue about effective spam deterrence (2, Interesting)

SysKoll (48967) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931512)

The most satisfying solution would be to hunt down and kill spammers myself, but some courts still erroneously think that spammers are human beings. We need to have more children of judges receive explicit XXX spam. If you know a judge and their kids' email address, you know what you have to do. :-)

Until then, we are forced to put down the ClueBat and resort to financial penalty for spammers and people hiring them.. The article says: Viagra distributors pay spammers per sale -- about $60 for every $150 order -- while financial companies typically pay for every consumer who requests more information -- as much as $12 for mortgage leads and as much as $5 for insurance referrals.

There is something to act upon here. It's already illegal to make a sell through a prohibited third-party. You cannot, say, give a commission to a guy who sells your stuff in Libya.

So how about giving the Federal Trade Commission the power to slap a fine on people who make sales on spam-acquired leads? Enforcement would be easy. Just answer mortage or insurance spam. The would-be insurance or mortagage broker contacts you, proving he has used the services of a spammer. Small claim court, or send the stuff to the FTC. Whammo, big fine, they won't do it again.And since they have a legal front-end in the financial world, they have assets to seize if they try to evade courts.

-- SysKoll

How to retaliate (2, Funny)

jgarland79 (665188) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931516)

Here is an idea.. Whenever you get spam mail (the real kind that comes in your mailbox). Take those business reply mail envelopes and fill them with all the spam you can, and send it back. The heavier, the better. I have a few friends that do this. It helps out the postal service by giving them more money and it helps you to get your point across about the junk mailings.

Important information!!! (1)

arvindn (542080) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931517)

"The fast-talking ex-spammer, at a sturdy 6 feet... Duncan Shiels, 41, was raised in an upscale neighborhood in Portland's West Hills. Wide glasses, light brown hair and a neatly trimmed goatee frame a genial face."

Now if you just happen to run into him on a lonely road, you know exactly what to do :-)

Re:Important information!!! (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931548)

If you run into him on a lonely road, you've just done it ;)

Oh no! (1)

smoondog (85133) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931532)

Another attack of the Sp4m k1dd1es...

-Sean

Time for someone to go Cartman on him? (4, Funny)

draziw (7737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931533)

Wonder what his parents taste like?

and this little piggy (1)

CakerX (149266) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931534)

and this little piggy went to market.

funny how a former cop tries this bullshit.

Spam Solution (1)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931540)

The solution to spam is a very difficult one to accomplish, but can be summed up very easily, make it unprofitable for spammers and the companies that use spam. Trying to catch spammers is a nearly impossibly thing to accomplish, so the next best targets are the companies and the consumers. Finding a way to put some ungodly amount of tax on products that are purchased from companies that use spam to advertise would seem to be a good deterant for the companies. After all, if the prices get so high that its cheaper get buy their crappy products in the normal market consumers would be turned off from it, and charging the companies would dry up their profits. Or even outlawing spam from the purchasing stand point, not the sending, which would crack down on the "small" percentage of people who actually buy products from spammers. That might seem unfair, but as one admin said in an interview "This is war". Im willing to take my chances with the law. It might actually be easier to track that small percentage of purchases made from spam ads than try and track and filter the spam itself... Yeah it hurts our online rights, but thats one Im willing to lose if it gets rid of spam since its also one I dont exercise at all.

I think I speak for all when I say (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931547)

Why you little...!
Aaaaahhhhg!

Spammers get spam too (1)

Sindri (207695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931552)

I wonder if Spammers use spam filters for their mail.

And since a spammers e-mail list is probably automatically generated with a crawler you might be sending spam to yourself!

I knew a spammer (1, Troll)

GoatPigSheep (525460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931555)

A friend of mine was into the spam game for a while. At the age of 19 he was making much more than any of the unix programmers I knew. He recieved several death threats from basement dwelling geeks and most of them have been tracked down and charged for their heinous crimes. My friend got out of the business after other members of his family were threatened too.

Remember, while spamming is a grey area subject, death threats are illegal. Whatever twisted morals you might have, if you threaten a spammer with violence expect to be tracked down and charged for it.

Release the hounds (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931559)

I think it is time we find these sites and DOS em. Hunt them down in there homes, seize there puters place a couple gigs worth of metalica and Celene Dion mp3's on there drives. After place an anyonomus tip to the RIAA and let the wolves at the pigs.

Weapons against Spammers: (5, Informative)

LaceHater (672568) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931567)

Some useful links for reducing spam income:

For People with an *nix Account:

  • Spamassassin [spamassassin.org] ruleset-based mail analizer. Detects spam quite well, especially if you enable access to Razor and Realtime-Blacklists. Newest release includes a bayesian filter.
  • bogofilter [sourceforge.net] My favourite bayesian spam filter. Pro: Very good detection rates after training properly. Con: Needs to be trained.
For everybody
  • Use Mozilla Mail [mozilla.org] The up-to-date Mozilla release includes a bayesian spam filter which can be easily trained by marking spam messages. Very good detection rate after resonable low training effort.
  • Find your favourite bayesian filter here [miningco.com]

We'll Shock Your Heart ... For Pennies a Jolt! (4, Funny)

WCityMike (579094) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931583)

Has anyone actually looked at what the business is that he's now in?

> "Defibworld is an authorized provider
> specializing in state of the art new and
> pre-owned AED's and Defibrillators at
> the lowest prices!"

Just what I want some hospital to be shocking my heart with: a "pre-owned" defibrillator purchased "at the lowest price"!

they just don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5931593)

...All of these replies and people don't get it. Even people who think they know. Read the story again... go back to school... use the force...

LOL!!! losers...

Just a thought (1)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 11 years ago | (#5931594)

Instead of targetting spammers, perhaps action should be taken against the morons who actually buy the crap spammers advertise?

If it were illegal to buy anything that was advertised in an email message, would this cause spammers problems?

I have no idea how it could be enforced but it's just a thought.
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