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I, Spammer

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the hoist-by-own-petard dept.

Spam 808

PCOL writes "The Washington Post is reporting on testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by Ronald Scelson, an eighth-grade dropout and self-taught computer programmer from Louisiana, who claims that he sends between 120 million and 180 million e-mails every 12 hours, that he can break sophisticated software filters 24 hours after they are deployed, and that he has no choice but to resort to forging the sender information in his bulk e-mail so he can be anonymous and maintain his connection to the Internet. He added that he obtained all his addresses legally and that AOL gladly sold him the company's entire customer directory which Ted Leonsis, vice chairman of AOL, did not deny." It's a tough life. Here's another story about the Senate committee meeting.

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So much for subscriptions (-1, Offtopic)

Microlith (54737) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015062)



It's times like these that I'm really bored.

Re:So much for subscriptions (-1, Troll)

Microlith (54737) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015087)

taco, why does slashdot strip encoded, non-english text out of posts?

Are you racist or something?

taco does not read comments... mostly (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015118)

just send the man some e-mail. He does reply.

famous examples. Even as ther were only some higly modded post that explain an article is an duplicate he was very supried it took some hours before someone mailed it to him.

Re:taco does not read comments... mostly (-1)

Original AIDS Monkey (315494) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015198)

Judging by the number of duplicates he posts, he doesn't read the stories either. He does however watch Buffy, play Xbox, and jerk off on Sarcasta's face all day. Surely an honest way to make a buck if there ever was one.

HTMF softball rules (-1, Offtopic)

Eese (647951) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015063)

We lost 11-10 last night :( hackingthemainframe.com rules

Uhhh.. (4, Funny)

gurnb (80987) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015065)

"Mr. Leonsis, are you a spammer?" McCain asked.


Leonsis, who had testified minutes earlier about how AOL was blocking 2.4 billion pieces of spam per day, did not answer directly.

"We let members opt out" of commercial messages sent by the company and affiliates, he said. And he accused Scelson of violating the company's "terms of use" agreement by using AOL's membership directory as a source for e-mail addresses. Scelson readily agreed.


Hello Pot, this is the kettle, you're black!!

AOL is a bigger part of the problem vs being a bigger part of the solution.

With great power, comes great responsibility.

Re:Uhhh.. (1)

5.11Climber (578513) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015112)

I don't think so. The problem is that AOL sends advertisement to their own subscribers not anyone they can get their hands on. And they do honor the opt-out.

Re:Uhhh.. (3, Insightful)

UCRowerG (523510) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015157)

Hello Pot, this is the kettle, you're black!!

Yes, AOL sends commercial messages to its members, but it doesn't spam the rest of the world too -- a perhaps small but significant difference. They do offer a "check here to opt-out of commercial messages" mechanism, but it auto-resets itself after a period of time.

Hmmmm.... AOL blocks 2.4 billion spams a day. I wonder how many the company generates itself to send to its own members.

Re:Uhhh.. (1, Insightful)

jweatherley (457715) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015222)

Yes, AOL sends commercial messages to its members, but it doesn't spam the rest of the world too

Does the never ending stream of AOL CD's mailed in the post not count as spam? I agree with the OP - this is a case of carbonised kitchen utensils having an argument.

parent comment is a spam apologist (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015158)

Why do idiots start comments with "uhhhh.."?

The real problem are the shithead spammers, not companies that offset subscription prices by marketing to their own *subscribers*.

AOL presents messages to their own captive users through the AOL system. Since AOL is not the internet it can hardly be considered spam for AOL to market to their own users. AOL easily configure marketing preferences within the AOL UI to block AOL pop-ups and AOL e-mail marketing.

*sniff!* (4, Funny)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015066)

I feel bad for him. I really do!

angrily deletes the 4 billion spam in his inbox

Well (5, Funny)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015069)

At least he's only sending them to the AOLers. I mean, if we keep them busy with spam, then they can't dumb down the rest of the internet right?

Re:Well ...that's the problem (5, Funny)

botzi (673768) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015142)

Aol subscirbers poll results:

1. What do you tend to do with all the incoming spam????

5% - I delete it.
20% - I read it and I find it great!!
80% - What spam???? I just forward everything....

Rq: The results percentage is above 100% due to database corruption;oP

You're still sure that's a good thing????

I, Frist Poster (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015072)

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/__I___\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)__LOVE_|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\_SPAM_/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

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YOU FAIL IT! (-1)

Original AIDS Monkey (315494) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015165)

The magnitude of your failure will be legendary.

Dang it, there goes my stomach lining... (5, Interesting)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015078)

"This is censorship," he said, arguing that both anti-spam vigilantes and Internet providers that filter out spam are depriving people of their right to see their mail.

Dear God, I hope the committee saw through this pathetic little charade. Last time I checked, I had no oblighation to pay to receive advertising; I had no right to force others to pay the cost of carrying that advertising; I had no right to force others to put up with the deluge of complaints about that advertising.

And if he's right about AOL selling him their membership list and spamming their members (and AOL VP Leonsis' weasel words about "letting members opting out" does nothing to make me think otherwise), all that means is there are two assholes there instead of one. It doesn't give him any moral high ground.

But at least there's the proposal for a "federal antispam SWAT team". I'd pay good money to see a live video stream of that take-down.

Re:Dang it, there goes my stomach lining... (4, Insightful)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015235)

>But at least there's the proposal for a "federal antispam SWAT team". I'd pay good money to see a live video stream of that take-down.

I hate to say it, but I hope the SWAT team proposal fails. How will the Federal SWAT team know who to raid? If they can trace a spammer they can trace activists, dissidents, anybody who might be a terrorist, they can trace anybody. Sure they can do it now to a large degree, but if there's a Federal SWAT team they'll need access to some sort of system right? Something like the Terrorist Information Awareness network or Carnivore but geared specifically towards email and only email. The SWAT team has to be efficient right? Mistakes would make them look real bad.

The worst thing spammers will do is cause even more loss of privacy, loss of open mail relays, and an increase of government monitoring of email.

I'm not entirely sure but I think for now I'd rather wear out my delete key a bit more and wait for better technical solutions. The legal solutions are just much too likely to be worse than the problem.

Re:Dang it, there goes my stomach lining... (5, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015274)

For me, the key word is "pay for spam".

One of the reasons why sending advertisements over the Fax is now illegal (without prior authorization, etc, etc, etc) is because it costs *me* money to recieve *your* ad.

In the case of bulk snail mail, 100% of the costs (if you don't include me physically picking up the mail, looking at it, and tearing the latest "Want a 0% interest credit card that jumps to 30% later?" envelope as cost) is payed by the sender.

In the case of a fax, *I* pay the paper, toner, etc. So even at $0.01 per ad, if it wasn't stopped I could wind up paying hundreds/thousands a year for the honor of recieving ads.

In the case of spam email, I believe that the same conditions apply. While I might not pay directly $0.01 per "spam email sent", I am paying by having my web space taken up (for those with ISP's that limit their mail boxes to 5 - 10 MB). And if my business relies on emails, *your* spam interferes with my ability to do work, thereby costing me money.

Add in that most spammers forge their address, hijack (or at least use without permission "open relays" (who should be closed anyway, yes, I'm looking at you, China, Korea, and any other country who's causing this problem)) other people's mail servers (thereby costing the mail server money they did not want to spend on bandwidth, storage, processor, etc).

I should hope that the Senate should make a very simple anti-spam plan:

If you send an unwanted email as an advertisement, you must have a method of truly getting someone off of the list.

If you sell the email addresses of your clients, you should be required to state to whom they have been sold so you can opt out *before* you get spam mail.

There should be a "national opt-out" spam list that all spam senders must check before sending a message.

Violating these agreements, or sending another message after the user has "opted out" is punishable by a $1000 fine per email sent.

Re:Dang it, there goes my stomach lining... (1)

mkro (644055) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015302)

If we start bending the definition of censorship a little, I'd rather say spammers like him are the censoring part, since they make it harder for me to find my _real_ mail.
I'm moving to another country now, and keep contact with my soon-to-be employers using e-mail. In addition to my regular "contact person", HR etc. send me info. It is really hard to tell their mail from spam by looking at the sender name and subject, since a lot of spam imitates that kind of "work-related look".

Funny that no one subscribes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015079)

After all, seconds after this is posted for the mouth breathing masses there are only two posts. Woo hoo, revenue for Slashdot!

Wow.

I heard William Gibson is a fucking queer.
William Gibson is reportedly a fucking hack who couldn't write for the stroke story mags you find listed in the back of Hustler.
A published writer, William Gibson, needs a web log? He had better be thirteen years old, wearing black nail polish and playing Joy Division over and over again while crying over some boy.

You are deserving of a trademarked bullet in the back of your head for writing "'blog" instead of "blog".

The Slashdot staff is deserving of watching their loved ones get raped, murdered and chopped into tiny bits so they can be fed to CowboyNeal before their horrified eyes.

Mod me down but the truth will set you free!

Are we just as bad? (5, Interesting)

agentZ (210674) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015083)

From the ContraCostaTimes article:

After his three children were asleep late one Saturday night last November, Jones sat down at his PC for a bit of spammer-flaming. First, he says, he visited a Web site, slashdot.org, that's a favorite among techies; he pulled down a list of about 10 alleged spammers. He programmed his personal computer to send a letter to each supposed spammer in the same way many spammers do: through so-called open relays and mail servers that forward e-mail in ways that make it hard to track down the sender. As his finishing stroke, he had his PC send the message to each spammer 10,000 times.

"We use the same methods the spammers use," says Jones, chuckling. "It's a bombardment."


Has Slashdot become a haven for anti-spammers? While I hate spam, I'm not sure that vigilante action is the right way to handle the problem. Although the article doesn't say that we endorse anti-spam vigilante actions, it makes it look like we're a hub for this sort of thing.

Re:Are we just as bad? (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015196)

Has Slashdot become a haven for anti-spammers? While I hate spam, I'm not sure that vigilante action is the right way to handle the problem. Although the article doesn't say that we endorse anti-spam vigilante actions, it makes it look like we're a hub for this sort of thing.

It is most likely that Slashdot readers are the ones that are computationally literate and most often have to deal with spam and the havoc that it can wreak. For instance, while I am not a sys-admin per se, I do manage the systems in our labs and collaborate with people all over the world for our research and I have to expend time dealing with spam and have had legitimate messages from collaborators in other countries blocked because of spam filters. Additionally, since our emails are published on our web sites for our research, we routinely get more spam than those whose addresses are not posted on long standing web pages. For one other example, last week we had a major email outage because our campus servers ran out of hard disk space due to the spam overload. Think of all the money that is being spent just trying to keep up with the load spam is causing.

So, yeah, while I do not routinely advocate or endorse vigilante justice, the reality is that Slashdot is probably a hub for this sort of thing. After all. 90% of the spam is pushed out by a few individuals and they are easy targets for computer geeks that are sick and tired of having to deal with all the crap spam causes people to wade through.

Re:Are we just as bad? (2, Interesting)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015220)

  • Has Slashdot become a haven for anti-spammers? While I hate spam, I'm not sure that vigilante action is the right way to handle the problem. Although the article doesn't say that we endorse anti-spam vigilante actions, it makes it look like we're a hub for this sort of thing.
Well, you've got to admit: /. is one of the last bastions in the US where you can say "fuck" without being blocked, kicked, and vigorously sued.
And if that isn't deep, deep underground, I don't know what is :)

(Time for the old "come to the dork side, my son, the farce is strong here" quote)

Re:Are we just as bad? (2, Funny)

Archwyrm (670653) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015257)

Retaliation may not be the solution to the problem, but at least have a good chuckle at the knowledge that these spammers inboxes are overflowing with flames.

Re:Are we just as bad? (0)

LilMikey (615759) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015261)

What other action is there? There still is no legislation and this isn't exactly a new problem.

Pretty simple (5, Funny)

Paddyish (612430) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015090)

while ($AOL)
{ $AOL=shoot_self_in_foot(with_gun);}

FYI incaseof /. fx (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015091)

By Jonathan Krim
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 22, 2003; Page A01

As a Senate committee sought answers yesterday on how to curb the overwhelming surge of junk e-mail, one of the nation's most notorious spammers told members just how hard their job would be.

Ronald Scelson, an eighth-grade dropout and self-taught computer programmer from Louisiana, riveted the Commerce Committee hearing room as he explained that he sends between 120 million and 180 million e-mails every 12 hours.

He boasted that in 24 hours he could crack sophisticated software filters designed to block spam.

And he accused Internet providers of hypocrisy in claiming to want to protect their customers from unsolicited messages.

Large Internet companies spam their own members, he said, while other network access providers have signed contracts allowing known spammers to send out mass e-mail.

"I'm probably the most hated person in this room," said an unapologetic Scelson, responding to a parade of technology, government and marketing officials who decried the purveyors of junk e-mail.

Scelson and eight other witnesses testified as Congress grapples with what Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) called a tide of "digital dreck" that threatens e-mail communication, one of the most powerful tools of the Internet age.

With spam now costing U.S. businesses upwards of $10 billion a year, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is co-sponsoring an anti-spam bill with Burns, said it was time for Congress to stop dawdling and pass federal legislation.

All of the witnesses agreed that spam is a complex problem that defies an easy fix. But as executives from leading software companies and online providers fidgeted uncomfortably, the man known to anti-spam tracking groups as the "Cajun Spammer" described how he easily acquires millions of e-mail addresses from publicly available member directories at America Online and other providers.

Moreover, he said, "the same people complaining about spam send e-mail" with solicitations for their own products and services. "AOL spams its members," he said.

This prompted the committee chairman, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), to turn to Ted Leonsis, vice president of AOL.

"Mr. Leonsis, are you a spammer?" McCain asked.

Leonsis, who had testified minutes earlier about how AOL was blocking 2.4 billion pieces of spam per day, did not answer directly.

"We let members opt out" of commercial messages sent by the company and affiliates, he said. And he accused Scelson of violating the company's "terms of use" agreement by using AOL's membership directory as a source for e-mail addresses. Scelson readily agreed.

Scelson also testified about how some Internet access providers signed little-known agreements, called "pink contracts," with known spammers to allow them to send mail in bulk, at prices higher than other commercial clients were charged.

Although the contracts mandated that bulk e-mailers abide by all state laws, Scelson said it did not matter if the e-mailers followed the rules. Most of the providers rip up the contracts and kick spammers off their systems after being threatened by anti-spam organizations that track mass e-mailers and put them on blacklists.

As a result, Scelson said, he has had no choice but to resort to forging the sender information in his bulk e-mail so he can be anonymous and maintain his connection to the Internet.

"This is censorship," he said, arguing that both anti-spam vigilantes and Internet providers that filter out spam are depriving people of their right to see their mail.

"People still buy this stuff," he said, claiming that his clients get a response rate to his e-mail of 1 to 2 percent.

Scelson, who said he does not distribute mail containing pornography, said one of his biggest clients sells a package of anti-virus computer software called Norton SystemWorks at cut-rate prices.

Officials at Symantec Inc., which makes the Norton software, said in an interview that although they have not seen the package Scelson's client is selling, other similar offers that they have tracked down have proved to be counterfeit.

Scelson said he supports anti-spam legislation. But while committee members were clearly intrigued by his story, they gave little weight to his proposed solution:

Pass a tough spam law, but then prevent any Internet provider from blocking e-mail from bulk marketers that abide by the law.

The Burns-Wyden bill would make it illegal for bulk mailers to forge their sending location, have deceptive subject lines or prevent users from removing their names from e-mail lists. Owners of networks would retain the ability to block mail, and the legislation gives Internet providers legal standing to hunt down and sue spammers.

The committee also heard from Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who advocates a nationwide do-not-spam registry similar to a newly created do-not-call telemarketing list, plus an international treaty on spam.

Several witnesses said legislation alone would not halt the spread of spam, which now accounts for more than 40 percent of all e-mail traffic. Trevor Hughes, representing a coalition of bulk e-mail service providers, said that it was time to "restore accountability" by having industry impose higher standards on itself.

Orson Swindle, one of two Federal Trade Commission members to testify, urged the industry to develop technology that could stop mail from any source except those pre-approved by users.

"There is a basic need for consumers to be free of any unwanted e-mail," Swindle said.

Just a few (4, Insightful)

DreamerFi (78710) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015101)

This sort of confirms that most spam is sent by a small group. Take this sucker out, and a massive amount of spam drops off the planet. Do it with enough prejudice, just to make sure nobody takes over the vacancy.

Re:Just a few (1)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015145)

For every one spammer we nix, three more pop up to take his place. Spammers are like Al-Qaeda, but without the beards.

Re:Just a few (1)

Roto-Rooter Man (520267) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015226)

For the record, they also don't murder thousands of innocent civilians.

Re:Just a few (1)

ThaReetLad (538112) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015272)

well thats just details. They're basically the same evil scum.

Why do people do this? (5, Interesting)

blumpy (84889) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015103)

Why do people bother with doing crap like this? Just because they can? This guy has the mentality of a script kiddy. Someone find his info and organize a snailmail spam-a-thon.

Re:Why do people do this? (5, Insightful)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015225)

Are you going to snailmail him on your dime? Otherwise, you're stealing from magazines, companies with catalogs, etc. Oh sure, it's just pennies here and there, but that's the same logic the spammer uses.

But okay, the reports of Al Ral getting buried in mail did make me smile. :^)

Slam his customers (5, Interesting)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015107)

Ok, another spammer, joy, so when are we going to start getting lists of those who HIRE these urchins? I frankly would love to start re-routing all the spam that comes to me BACK to the idiots who hire spammers. Oh, and how about some postal addresses on these spam-buying scumbags too, eh?

Re:Slam his customers (1)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015130)

I wholly agree. Spammers only exist because there is a market for them. Or they have serious mental issues... ;)

Slashbashing. (2, Insightful)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015110)

All we need is his address info and we can SlashBash him like the others.

Ok, maybe this is a troll, but its what /.ers have done before.

HOW"S THIS FOR A START!?!!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015305)

James Munson
809 87th Ave NE
Everett, WA 98205

Gary Mizell
5518 E Friess Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Wendy K. Harris
2008 South Mebane Street
Apartment 2027-C
Burlington, NC 27215

Paul Wade
2 Oakmead
Meopham
Kent DA13 0PL

Elliot H. Johnson
3404 Burliegh Cove
Austin, TX 78745

Fr. G. G.
1415 Doric Drive
Reno, NV 89503 ...

Profit on selling customer list? (5, Insightful)

decesare (167184) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015113)

I wonder if anyone inside of AOL has run the numbers to figure out

  • how much money AOL has spent on anti-spam measures, or
  • how many customers AOL has lost due to the overwhelming amount of spam in their inboxes,

and compared that to the amount of revenue that they get from selling out their customers.

less than 20 million dollars (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015259)

I wonder if anyone inside of AOL has run the numbers to figure out
how much money AOL has spent on anti-spam measures, or
how many customers AOL has lost due to the overwhelming amount of spam in their inboxes,

and compared that to the amount of revenue that they get from selling out their customers.


well lets assume AOL loses a net 100,000 customers per year who would have stayed despite other gripes, had spam not been out of control. Well then at $19 per month that's 228 dollars per year x 100,000 = 22.8 million dollars per year per year.



that is this is the rate of change of loss. if one assumes the average AOL member who would be bother by spam last say 3 years with the service then the amortized loss is
68 Million dollars per year (constant over time)



of course this assumes that the 100,000 number is correct. Presumably AOL also has people joining from other places, say MSN, that quit their providers too because of spam. And of course 100,000 was just a number ot get the conversation statered. Personally I would guess the real number is 10x less maybe 100x less.

Also as long as AOL is growing at a rate that is approriate to their cash flow they will actually be glad these people quit! that is, too fast a growth is bad for a company: you dont want to have to borrow money. often its better and more stable to raise it via stock sales and cash flow. thus as long as you are growing at your maximum rate you dont care if some people leave.

Re:Profit on selling customer list? (2, Interesting)

epsilon720 (307234) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015284)

Someone here could do it with the same logic the RIAA uses for their financial analysis, and show that had AOL not sold out, they would own the entire world. Since customer loss is clearly purely due to spam, AOL would then sue the spammers for $97 Billion. Then AOL would be allowed to attack any spammer's computer and delete or alter anything that has the same name as an e-mail client....

Spam is just good business (-1, Troll)

A Proud American (657806) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015115)

If you want to get your slogan and company name out there fast, it makes sense to use the Internet and email systems.

I know that this so-called "junk mail" upsets many people, but let's be honest -- if someone told you that you could become a millionaire just by spending a couple hours each day sending emails, you'd probably be the first to sign up.

Many jobs are thankless jobs. Just look at the nonsense that President Bush has to put up with. But that doesn't make these hard workers necessarily evil.

I would rather trust a spammer than a lazy computer programmer to get a job done, that's for sure. It's not about being nice, it's about being a hard worker. Stupid isn't forever, but lazy is.

FUCK YOU EKROUT GODDAMN FAGGOT! MOD PARENT -1 GAY! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015176)

GO SUCK A COCK!

Re:Spam is just good business (2, Insightful)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015218)


I would rather trust a spammer than a lazy computer programmer to get a job done, that's for sure. It's not about being nice, it's about being a hard worker. Stupid isn't forever, but lazy is.


How, exactly, is writing a few scripts to send out a huge batch of e-mail every 12 hours or so, with minimal input from the user, hard work?

Sounds to me like the spammer is the lazy one, but, maybe I'm missing something. Please enlighten me.

Re:Spam is just good business (1)

FrEaK7782 (588564) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015244)

I always say "Work smart, not hard".

If you can accomplish something with no user intervention, you must be doing something right.

Re:Spam is just good business (1)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015276)

I think that here, "right" is a very subjective word.

He's doing wrong very efficiently, perhaps it might be better to say.

Re:Spam is just good business (2, Insightful)

FrEaK7782 (588564) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015224)

Spam is a business because there are actually people out there that fall for this crap!

I maintain that if the general public would just wise-up, spam would go away rather quickly. The article points out that he gets 3% response. If it was 0%, we would be out of business. It's that simple.

So the solution is this: Educate those less computer-wise around you to NEVER respond to a spam e-mail. And definitely don't give them money!

Re:Spam is just good business (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015292)

The article says that he says he gets 3%, and he's a notorious liar. I think Al Ral only claimed about 0.004%

Education is good! We can block and filter all we want, but until the people who give money to spammers stop doing that, spammers will keep trying to reach them.

Well overhere (2, Interesting)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015290)

In my wonderfull country (!= US). We have a systenm where you can put an official sticker (free at townhall). on your mailbox that you don't want Junk Mail, and you don't get any (mistakes excepted, but hey once a year or so). The same stickers also allow you to differentiate between "Junk mail" and "local advertisements papers" (Which can be handy if you want to know what's going on in your local community). If a similair system could be implemented for email (I doubt that, at least any time soon). then I would not mind electronic junkmail (allthough I would opt-out). Now I object since I have no means of opting out and be done with it.

Can't beat my filtering (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015120)

My false negative rate using Mozilla Bayesian filtering is way less than 1%, and the false positive rate since training is non-existant. Of course I do go back about once a month and re-train it with both positive and negative datasets but if you don't do good training how can you expect good results, it's almost like training a pet.

Spamming != bulk mailings (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015121)

Scelson tries to make the argument that what he does is no different than other advertisers who send their adverisements through the US mail.

Unfortunately he, like all other spammers, completely misses the point that the two are not related. When LL Bean sends its catalog to you it costs the company X cents to do so per each catalog.

When Scelson sends out his 180 emails a day it costs him X cents in total. However, it costs all the ISPs whose bandwidth he and others chew up X dollars per email. Thus, he is offloading the cost of doing business to the people who are receiving the email.

This reminds me of the old postal system in the UK. In days gone by it was the receiver who had to pay to accept the piece of mail. If they didn't pay the mail was returned. It is only in recent history that the mail system is such that sender pays.

I wonder if Mr Scelson would be happy if all the advertisers who send him their mailings would tell him he has to pay to get those things whether he wants them or not.

Re:Spamming != bulk mailings (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015308)

And that is exactly my idea on how spamming could be stopped. Forget about government regulations, that never works. Cash counts .....

So, my system would be that I would pay my ISP 1 cent for every email I send. Could be 2, 5 or a half of course. I can easily afford that extra buck per week and the ISP could even lower my monthly rate (not that I count on that :-). Anyway, based on what I pay, the ISP will add an encrypted header to my email and send that along. On the receiving end, you just set a filter indicating how much must have been paid before you want to read the email: "I only want emails having costed more than 2 cents" or something similar.

Even with only a single cent per email, I can afford that easily. I don't think Mr Scelson can afford 18 million cents per day. And the LL Bean's of this world will still be able to send their marketing stuff. It will only cost them some money. Which they won't mind probably.

Sure, some issues need to be sorted out, like the encrypted key that probably should contain a hash of the message, etc. etc. But this could work.

Me Tarzan, you Jane? (0, Offtopic)

termos (634980) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015122)

I, Spammer, you Tarzan. We be in same intelligence level.

Re:Me Tarzan, you Jane? (1)

Roto-Rooter Man (520267) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015135)

I don't see why him being an eighth-grade dropout is so key to this story as to mention it in the Slashdot summary. We don't like spammers for what they do, but we don't have to cast aspersions on their personal lives, intelligence levels, or educational backgrounds. Frankly, being a self-taught programmer after that little education is impressive. Maybe he annoys us, but I don't think he's dumb.

Re:Me Tarzan, you Jane? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015263)

On /., people revere programmers. The fact of the matter is that you don't need to be that smart to write a lot of software. I mean, how intelligent do you have to be to write a script that e-mails someone? System administrators get a lot of respect on this site too -- system administration is also a dumb job. SA's are like the janitors and maids of the digital world. Just because they know how to use a computer to mop up digital messes does not make them special or impressive.

This sort of "he was an 8th grade drop out" bullshit just encourages more people to take their education less seriously, and causes them to program more useless trinkets and get more jobs in what is already a pretty mindless IT industry.

Nothing Good Is Going To Come Of This (4, Interesting)

nemski (587833) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015128)

Why do I have this knot in my stomach as Congress prepares legislation to stop spam? Remember when they 'deregulated' the cable industry and all our rates went up? I know it is possible to go from bad to worse, but what is after that?

Re:Nothing Good Is Going To Come Of This (1)

icemax (565022) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015273)

I agree. Here on /. we're constantly assailing congress for passing laws which make no sense, or enforcing good laws in bad ways. I think we all need to carefully think about the repercussions of enacting anti-spam laws, and eat our own "don't legislate, fix the problem in the technology" medicine. I know good laws do exist, and perfectly good spam laws could be written, but wouldn't it be better to *fix* smtp's flaws which enable spam to propogate?

8th grade (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015132)

...Ronald Scelson, an eighth-grade dropout...

Wow, he made it farther than me!

Is this Anti-Spam movement a subterfuge? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015136)

I think the real behind-the-scenes motive of all the efforts we keep hearing about recently to throttle Spam is the intention to remove our ability to send e-mail anonymously on the Internet. Removing this capability frightens me, particularly for those living under repressive regimes. There must be some third way by which Spam can be defeated while still preserving anonymous e-mailing.

He's the Norton SystemWorks guy! (4, Interesting)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015137)

Watch for the lawsuit, Mr. Scelson:

Scelson, who said he does not distribute mail containing pornography, said one of his biggest clients sells a package of anti-virus computer software called Norton SystemWorks at cut-rate prices. Officials at Symantec Inc., which makes the Norton software, said in an interview that although they have not seen the package Scelson's client is selling, other similar offers that they have tracked down have proved to be counterfeit.

I get 1-2 Norton SystemWorks spams a day. If they're from this fucker, let's hope the Symantec people are able to find out where he lives, and sue him into oblivion.

In the tradition of Gonzo Journalism (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015146)

Mr. Scelson claims that "People still buy this stuff," he said, claiming that his clients get a response rate to his e-mail of 1 to 2 percent.

1-2 percent on penis enlargement - and knock off Viagra offers?

Mr. Scelson is a fucking liar.

Re:In the tradition of Gonzo Journalism (1)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015190)

1-2 percent on penis enlargement - and knock off Viagra offers?

Pardon my SPAM results ignorance, but is that unbelievable because it's too high or too low?

So... (1)

Tyrdium (670229) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015148)

How about his home address?

Re:So... (1)

Roto-Rooter Man (520267) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015197)

Funny how everyone flips out about Verizon having to hand over a couple of names of pirates to the RIAA, and yet they scream at the top of their lungs for private information about spammers engaged in annoying (yet legal) bulk mailing.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015300)

43 CYPRESS MEADOWS LOOP
SLIDELL, LA 70460 US
Home: (504) 646-2225
Work: 504-649-6248

Scelson, as all spammers, is a liar (4, Interesting)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015150)

There is NO way he bought the AOL address information from AOL.

One thing to keep in mind when talking with spammers is that they always lie. They lie to themselves ("everything I do is legal", "I am forced to hijack open proxies") and they lie to everyone else ("Here's the information you requested").

The career spammers are, indeed, bold enough to even lie to the US Government, face-to-face. Too bad the US Government is usually totally cluefree when it comes to the spam problem, so these conmen get away with lieing to senators.

Proletariat of the world, unite to kill spammers. Remember to shoot knees first, so that they can't run away while you slowly torture them to death

Re:Scelson, as all spammers, is a liar (1)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015249)

Then why didn't AOL flat out deny the accusation?

Re:Scelson, as all spammers, is a liar (1)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015296)

Because that's not the way the PR game is played.

Here's an explanation [google.com] of how it is played. Read the whole thread for more insights into how Big Corp's answer to dipshits, like Scelson, who lie in public about them.

Proletariat of the world, unite to kill spammers.

Re:Scelson, as all spammers, is a liar (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015277)

Geez, read the blurb. An AOL VP *would not deny* the accusation. If you were the VP of a company and your company was accused of selling all your customers info to somehow who is basically a con man, wouldn't you be denining it? Unless of course you actually DID do it.

Let the punishment fit the crime (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015155)

He should be slapped lightly on the wrist with a rolled up newspaper once for every time he pissed someone off.

True story: I broke the trigger on my water pistol by fantasising I had a gun pointed at a spammer's genitals.

My oh my (0)

pagluy (651141) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015160)

"...and that AOL gladly sold him the company's entire customer directory which Ted Leonsis, vice chairman of AOL, did not deny."

Ted Turner must be rolling in his grave.

AOL selling customer lists? (1)

stretch0611 (603238) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015167)

Gee, AOL sells out it customers for profit? I would never believe that(sic).

I personally dropped AOL when they started with Pop-ups 7 years ago. I was annoyed that they would force a big ad as soon as I logged on and that I had to dismiss it before I could do anything else.

I have a whitelist (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015168)

And not one spammer has broken that filter.
I'd sure like to see this brain surgeon try and find out who's on my whitelist and forge their address.

I can reasonably say hell will freeze over before that happens.

Re:I have a whitelist (1)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015208)

I'd sure like to see this brain surgeon try and find out who's on my whitelist and forge their address.

That must be really handy when you are advertising something for sale, providing your e-mail address on a resumé that you post, or handing out business cards with your e-mail address on them. Blocking all e-mail not from whitelisted addresses is one way to make e-mail unusable.

Re:I have a whitelist (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015264)

Combine it with throw away forwarding addresses from people like the good folks at sneakmail.com and you don't even have those problems, just whitelist sneakmail. and the instant you recieve spam on the sneakmail address report whoever gave the address out to the relevant people and throw it away. That way you can be sure who is selling or giving away their contact lists, or who is dumb enough to get stupid email viruses and not lose the ability to block 99.99+% of spam. Of course I just receieve everything and let the smart software figure it out (Bayesian filtering) but I can see how that aproach would work for some people.

Re:I have a whitelist (1)

vorpal22 (114901) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015233)

This may be a feasible solution for some people, but obviously not for others. I must make myself contactable by strangers, be they students in classes I'm TAing, people who have questions about software I've written, or passerbys who stumble across my webpage and want to engage me in a chat.

Glad to hear that whitelisting works for you, but I think for the majority of people, we need a better solution.

Return to sender! (4, Interesting)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015181)

I think I have it. If we get the spammer's postal address, and the postal address of those who hired him, maybe we should just print out all the spam we get and sent it to the one who hired him postage due. :)

As an added bonus use the spammer's postal address as the return address.

Hackers Vs Spammers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015183)

Some of my email accounts receive 20 emails per day which are spam.

This has been happening for more than a year, and every time I spend 1-2 minutes per day deleting spam I get angry!!! Very Angry!

Its about time to use our skills and fight back!

Hackers Vs Spammers

Wanted email? (2, Insightful)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015184)

"Now the individual has lost his right to get any e-mail he wants," Scelson said. So now I want to receive free viagra from jryaixz@yahoo.com? Quite the contrary; with proposed antispam laws, users are finally gaining the right to get only the email they want.

sooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015187)

he has no choice but to resort to forging the sender information in his bulk e-mail so he can be anonymous and maintain his connection to the Internet

so why don't they just make a law to make it illegal to forge header information for commercial e-mail.. with the party to be charged being the one whose products are being advertised (since, well, if there's a way to get their money, there's a way to contact THEM)

that would cut off spammers air supply in the u.s. pretty quickly and it would be wicked simple to enforce

there's no way you can argue against this. even if you have a right to anonymity then there is NO way you have a right to anonymity in *COMMERCIAL SPEECH*. that just doesn't even make sense.

How early can you drop? (2, Interesting)

rxed (634882) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015188)

8th grade dropout? How early can you drop?

How about "I, Troller" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015189)

James Munson
809 87th Ave NE
Everett, WA 98205

Gary Mizell
5518 E Friess Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Wendy K. Harris
2008 South Mebane Street
Apartment 2027-C
Burlington, NC 27215

Paul Wade
2 Oakmead
Meopham
Kent DA13 0PL

Elliot H. Johnson
3404 Burliegh Cove
Austin, TX 78745

Fr. G. G.
1415 Doric Drive
Reno, NV 89503

Install TMDA now! (2, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015191)

In the few days I have been using TMDA [tmda.net] , I have been exceedingly satisfied. It is a much better solution than SpamAssasin. You should try to whitelist most of the people you expect to receive email from ahead of time, but I haven't had any complaints from people having to respond to a message bounced back to them for authentication.

That, in combination with qmail's revokable dash-addresses (howard-amazon@cow.com, howard-slashdot@cow.com, etc.) make it an excellent solution not just for avoiding spam, but for tracking its sources as well.

1-2 percent? (2, Insightful)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015204)

If he's sending 240 million emails a day and getting 1-2 percent return, even if he only make a few dollars off each sale that's a profit in the order of billions a year. Do you get the feeling he's lying to the senate?

Re:1-2 percent? (2, Insightful)

clonebarkins (470547) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015280)

If he's sending 240 million emails a day and getting 1-2 percent return, even if he only make a few dollars off each sale that's a profit in the order of billions a year. Do you get the feeling he's lying to the senate?

No. "Response" and "sale" are clearly two different things. Of the 1-2% responses, probably less than 1% of those (i.e.,

Re:1-2 percent? (1)

Delirium Tremens (214596) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015295)

If he's sending 240 million emails a day and getting 1-2 percent return, even if he only make a few dollars off each sale that's a profit in the order of billions a year. Do you get the feeling he's lying to the senate?
No, he is simply advertising his services and trying to lure new customers.

Lots of good info here... (5, Interesting)

johannesg (664142) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015206)

"People still buy this stuff," he said, claiming that his clients get a response rate to his e-mail of 1 to 2 percent.

Let's say 10 million emails per hour (lowest), 1% response rate (lowest), that's 100,000 responses per hour! That means that over the course of a year, we are talking about 876 million responses. Divide that by the 165.75 million internet users in the US, and we learn that each and every one of you respond to him 5 times per year!

Well, maybe he spams the entire world. I have no idea how many internet users there are in the world, but let's say it is something like one billion. That means everyone responds to him almost yearly! Amazing! Now I only have one question: those responses, are they sales or deaththreats?

one less spammer (2, Interesting)

mikeee (137160) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015289)

Isn't it a felony to lie in congressional testimony?

Another bad Slashdot analogy (4, Interesting)

JSkills (69686) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015214)

Yes - many people use analogies to make their point on Slashdot - so here's mine.

People need to guard their email addresses in the same way they practice safe sex. Don't go sticking your email address just any old place ...

Ok, that was bad. The exceptions are cases where your ISP screws you and sells your name (like those sorry AOL customers had happen to them) or people who use brute force address guessing algorithms.

Although I think the legislation being considered is a good first step --

The Burns-Wyden bill would make it illegal for bulk mailers to forge their sending location, have deceptive subject lines or prevent users from removing their names from e-mail lists. Owners of networks would retain the ability to block mail, and the legislation gives Internet providers legal standing to hunt down and sue spammers.

The committee also heard from Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who advocates a nationwide do-not-spam registry similar to a newly created do-not-call telemarketing list, plus an international treaty on spam.

Nothing really beats good filtering. I put together a server side filtering process using a Mail::Audit. I support several end users who can administrate their mail rules (e.g. block if subject has "viagra" or if sender is spamboy@jizzmop.com, etc.) using a web based interface and MySQL back-end. People can share rules as well. It's working pretty well for everyone. Additionally, Mail::Audit allows you to tap into the RBL which essentially will give you an "unlisted number" - only those you have expilicity granted permission to recieve from can reach you. Sounds extreme, but I get ZERO spam.

SPAMHAUS Record on Scelson (5, Informative)

tbmaddux (145207) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015215)

... is here. [spamhaus.org] He must not be doing all that well if he can't scrape together the dough to get his fat ass out of Slidell, Louisiana, a town I had the misfortune of driving through a year ago and whose only redeeming feature is the Lake Ponchartrain bridge/causeway leading out of it and to New Orleans.

Re:SPAMHAUS Record on Scelson (0, Offtopic)

nochops (522181) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015267)

I concur. I traveled through Slidell a few times myself on the way to or from New Orleans.

If I recall there was a horrid sulfer / rotten egg smell blanketing the whole town.

Legal Spamming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015223)

There finally seems to be action by "legitimate" marketers to regulate, not ban spam. The main problem from their viewpoint is that if potential customers are totally turned off and turn off spam altogether, their "legitimate" spam will not get through. One can imagine marketers considering this scenario and muttering to themselves, "The horror. The horror."


Once spam is legitimized, you can expect to see attempts to block or filter it made illegal as well. And then, once again, the world will be safe from consumers who commit theft by not viewing/reading advertisements.

What a spin he puts on it. (3, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015229)


"..and that he has no choice but to resort to forging the sender information in his bulk e-mail so he can be anonymous and maintain his connection to the Internet."

In other words: "I have to lie, cheat and steal to use resources on mail servers illicitly."

Asshole.

Spam and AOL (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015230)

Although I hate to admit it, I use AOL - much to the amusement of my friends. I have to say that I have not been bombarded with any spam since the creation of my new email account. I have used this account solely for communicating with friends, and nobody except my friends have the address.

Reading the comments above would make me think that all AOL accounts attract spam, just because they are at AOL. Some advice for AOLers. if you dont want spam, dont have a profile, and most certainly dont give your email address to all those porn sites you frequent...

Assasination (-1, Troll)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015243)

I think when these spammers come forward into the daylight they should be put down with a high powered rifle. We have done it to lesser evils..
KC

Where's the personal info, it's been 20 minutes. (5, Funny)

Ravensign (134410) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015253)

Lol.

This article is 20 minutes old, I am suprised his home address, phone number, ssn, shoe size and EQ account info aren't already posted.

Somebody should kick him in the nads! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015270)

Somebody should kick that guy in the nads! I hate spam.

Wanna know where the real spam is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6015279)

It's right here. This is about the umptieth story on spam in about three weeks. The word "obsessed" comes to mind.

Get a new address or install a filter, and then start listing interesting articles for a change because the spam topic is getting up-fucking old in a hurry.

Here's an idea. (4, Interesting)

Greg@RageNet (39860) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015281)

Here's a proposal, as it seems like the world is moving closer to 'whitelist' (reject by default) method of spam combatantcy. Perhaps there should be a global whitelist set up, where a user signs up, and must verify their mail address, then the mail address is MD5 hashed and stored in a database. Recipients recieve an email from this sender they simply hash the from address and check to see if the hash exists in the database. If it's present the mail is accepted, if not, rejected. Solves the problem of invalid from addresses always used in spam, as well as solving the problem of preventing data-mining of such a 'whitelist' database by spammers (as it contains only checksums).. And it solves the problem of being able to recieve messages from people you haven't personally explicitly whitelisted; ie. old friends from highschool, aquantances with new email addresses, etc..

Whaddya think?

-- Greg

What a Tangled Web (1)

hipster_doofus (670671) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015286)

If AOL did indeed sell this guy their entire user list, then I have absolutely no sympathy for them. It also takes away the legitimacy of AOL, MSN, and Yahoo joining forces to eliminate spam when at least one of them (AOL) is actively contributing to the problem.

Maybe counting on ISPs to help eliminate the problem isn't such a great idea after all...

forging sender address (5, Insightful)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 11 years ago | (#6015303)

Why isn't this the same crime as handing someone an ID card which says you are someone you are not?

He claims that he "has no choice but to resort to forging the sender information in his bulk e-mail so he can be anonymous".

Isn't that a bit like saying that when I was 19, I had no choice but to resort to forging my driver's license so I could buy beer?
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