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Former Spammer Reveals Secrets in New Book

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the sleeps-better-on-his-bed-of-royalties dept.

Spam 241

StonyandCher writes "A retired spammer is looking to make money from a tell-all book rather than fleecing people dependent on pharmaceuticals and people with gambling problems. In this Computerworld article 'Ed', a retired spammer, predicts the spam problem will only get worse, aided by consumers with dependencies and faster broadband speeds. From the article: 'He sent spam to recovering gambling addicts enticing them to gambling Web sites. He used e-mail addresses of people known to have bought antianxiety medication or antidepressants and targeted them with pharmaceutical spam. Response rates to spam tend to be a fraction of 1 percent. But Ed said he once got a 30 percent response rate for a campaign. The product? A niche type of adult entertainment: photos of fully clothed women popping balloons ... "Yes, I know I'm going to hell," said Ed."

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Let me guess... (5, Funny)

Fx.Dr (915071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927795)

It's a pop-up book? Sorry, couldn't resist.

Re:Let me guess... (2, Funny)

HalifaxRage (640242) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928049)

The book is not too bad, but it's kind of hard to read since the words constantly vibrate and change color.

Earn thousands with ads like this one (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928233)

Earn thousands with ads like this one...send three dollars for instructions.

This was an actual ad that frequently ran in the national enquirer

Re:Let me guess... (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928647)

Speaking of pop-ups...

It's hard to go into a bar and explain your job to a woman by saying "I advertise penis enlargement pills online," Ed said. "It doesn't go down very well."

Of course it doesn't go down well, it's enlarged. Sheesh.

OS (-1, Redundant)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927821)

But did he run Linux?

Re:OS (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928405)

Yes, he did, a Beowulf cluster of them, while eating hot grits, and he had nat port stickers on the cases, and he had a full collection of OMG PONIES and he called himself the "I for one welcome our obligatory overlords" and his business plan was
1. spam
2. ???
3. Profit!!!

I for one wish there was a -6 beating a dead horse mod
I also wish i had the ability to delete /. accounts for people who continue to beat the dead horse...

Re:OS (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928689)

I for one wish there was a -6 beating a dead horse mod
I, for one, welcome our dead horse-beating, spamming book writing overlords.

Why? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19929003)

Do you think that he ran Windows? Not likely. No way was this guy going to help his competitors.

One Percent With No Communication Cost! (5, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927849)

From the article: 'He sent spam to recovering gambling addicts enticing them to gambling Web sites. He used e-mail addresses of people known to have bought antianxiety medication or antidepressants and targeted them with pharmaceutical spam. Response rates to spam tend to be a fraction of 1 percent.

I work with targeted communications and our success rates with similar lists are just as "successful". We were looking to contact Juniors and Seniors in HS to let them know of our offerings and had a list that supposedly contained names and addresses (no e-mail/phone) of people that would be in this demographic. Out of 9800 people we had a 0.93% response rate. Being that the cost of that list was as low as it was we will do it again...

I can only imagine what an advantage it is having such a low communication cost (it costs us .41/each) and having a 1% return rate... If only I could retire on the money I make ;)

Re:One Percent With No Communication Cost! (4, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928179)

Interesting.

I find it very telling that there's very little of the usual /. moral outrage associated with spam.

It's clearly okay for corporations to collect and maintain detailed records of individual consumer preferences, financial records and medical records. And yet, when identity theft stories appear, there is the usual hue and cry "something must be done!"

It seems to me that few people understand the two go together like beer and potato chips.

Re:One Percent With No Communication Cost! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928677)

I think the "lack of moral" outrage you see is only telling of how long spam has been a problem. Do you really need to read thousands of angry rants about spam on every article just to know people are still mad about it?

Re:One Percent With No Communication Cost! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928877)

We were looking to contact Juniors and Seniors in HS to let them know of our offerings

Finally a case where I wish someone really was thinking of the children.

I hope the GP doesn't have any encryption software on his computer, else I might be forced to conclude he was a pedophile.

Re:One Percent With No Communication Cost! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928573)

Heh, you admit that you are a spammer (err, "targeted communicator") and include contact information (link to web site) on Slashdot. Thou hath cojones grande.

Re:One Percent With No Communication Cost! (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928847)

Given that each of his communications cost $0.41 I'm assuming he's a snail mailer.

More Interesting (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19927865)

Even more interesting would be a tell all book about anyone of the shitty proprietary anti-virus solutions (McAffee, Norton, etc) because their strategies and models have been so horrible that I consider the 30-90 day trials of that on new machine to be just as bad as malware.

Paid in CASH?! (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927867)

Oh I'm sure the "Department of Homeland Security" with the urging of the IRS will be drafting several letters to get the identity of this guy... paid in cash?! He is bound to be hit up for tax evasion. Yes, indeed he *IS* going to hell, but he won't have to die to get there!

photos of fully clothed women popping balloons (5, Funny)

klenwell (960296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927869)

It's the only kind of adult entertainment fully endorsed by my church and my local clown guild.

Re:photos of fully clothed women popping balloons (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927943)

rule 34 I believe?

Re:photos of fully clothed women popping balloons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928679)

rule 34 I believe?
Ixnay on the orchanfay!

Rule #1 - spammers lie. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928165)

A 30% response rate? Either:

a. That was an EXTREMELY targeted spam run. In which case, WHERE did he get the email addresses?

b. Considering that there are usually a few million emails sent out in a spam run, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who responded to that.

Neither one makes much sense to me. Oh, that's right. Rule #1 - spammers lie.

Re:Rule #1 - spammers lie. (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928291)

Right? Wrong? I'm the one with the spam ...

Re:Rule #1 - spammers lie. (2, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928361)

He bought a list of men who subscribed to "Macy's Balloon and Blimp Fetish" magazine.

Re:Rule #1 - spammers lie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928409)

There were three world wide, and one replied. Makes sense to me!

Only plausible source: (2)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928629)

a. That was an EXTREMELY targeted spam run. In which case, WHERE did he get the email addresses?

Maybe it was the email database from a softcore porn site that specializes in fully-clothed women popping balloons?

Wow! (5, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927893)

But Ed said he once got a 30 percent response rate for a campaign. The product? A niche type of adult entertainment: photos of fully clothed women popping balloons ... "Yes, I know I'm going to hell"

I've never gotten such spam.

I'm surprised it was only 30% -- that kind of thing is bound to pique the interest of a whole lotta people.

(Oh, come on, admit it, you're googling it right now, aren't you? Oh, maybe I'm going to hell too ;-)

Cheers

Actually... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928021)

I keep re-reading that passage thinking that there is some detail that I'm probably missing.....then again, the way fetishes go, probably not. Seriously though, why can't we seem to find women with oddball fetishes? or are they just better at keeping it to themselves?

Re: Actually... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928221)

Watching her inflate the balloon too much... you know it's gonna pop, you know she knows it... but she just keeps going... <<shiver>>

Re: Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928535)

I can safely say that I've seen or read about a lot of really bizarre things on the internet, and 99% of them I can intellectually get in an abstract way no matter how horrible or crazy they seem, but this is wholly alien to me.

I simply don't get it at all... I mean, not a bit.

Re: Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928895)

Informative?!?

Re:Actually... (5, Interesting)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928685)

My guess? Right before he wrote that, he created a website with women popping balloons and is now making tons of revenue off the huge volume of views the ads on the site are getting now that it's being /.'d.

Re:Wow! (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928099)

"I've never gotten such spam."

How do you know? Do you actually read all your spam?

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928227)

http://www.fetishpalooza.com/ [fetishpalooza.com]

Re:Wow! (2, Interesting)

dankasfuk (885483) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928375)

From a balloon fetish website: Balloon fetishists, who also call themselves looners, balloonophiles, or loonatics, get off on blowing up and/or popping latex balloons. Some looners actually have sex with the balloons by sticking their equipment in the nozzle (obviously, you have to be male to pull this off). Others enjoy putting balloons inside their clothing.

Re:Wow! (3, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928551)

Some looners actually have sex with the balloons by sticking their equipment in the nozzle (obviously, you have to be male to pull this off).


Ok, oddball question time. Using the above quote, yes, only a man can stick his equipment inside the balloon. However, what about the reverse? Sticking the balloon inside a woman and GENTLY inflating and deflating it again and again.

I know, I know, I'm a sick puppy. Aren't we all in some manner?

Re:Wow! (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928529)

Without doing any research whatsoever, I'm going to guess that the reason for the balloon fetish is similar to the reason for the so-called "crush fetish" whereby guys enjoy watching women step on bugs. The latter is due to how, while growing up, their mother would scream and then step on bugs, exciting a lot of surprise and excitement in the child, which molded his psyche and eventually developed into arousal. Similarly, perhaps children got the same sort of panic from balloons popping.

Re:Wow! (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19929103)

Without doing any research whatsoever, I'm going to guess that the reason for the balloon fetish is similar to the reason for the so-called "crush fetish" whereby guys enjoy watching women step on bugs.

I've always thought trying to figure out the root cause for a fetish is kinda pointless unless someone has a really strong obsession which interferes with their normal life and they need clinical care.

Sure, some people probably do have some fetishes which start out with some kind of Freudian-explainable experience. But, you don't need to rely on a man who used a lot of cocaine and figured everything revolved around how you were potty trained, and how badly you wanted to sleep with/kill your mother to determine why someone might do something for their own pleasure.

Nowadays, fetishes are so easy to find information on (like, say, a Slashdot article ;-) that you can pretty much do a little research, see if any fetishes might work for you, and then try them on for size. I question if most people involved in any form of fetish play nowadays actually have a truly abnormal physchological fixation with something, or have just rationally decided that, say, latex is cool or whatever.

Lets face it, go to an adult store and they've got all of the fixin's for fetish play just sitting there. You could just one day decide to try one of them out. Spot a video and decide to watch it. Or, possibly, a partner will suggest it one day just for fun.

Fetishes don't need to be just irrational/compulsive obsessions any more. They can be conscious decisions that you stumble upon and decide will just be damned fun. As Freud himself said ... sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. (Although, I guess maybe if you choose it, it may not technically be a 'fetish' in the clinical sense. I just view it as a new set of toys you can choose to play with or not.)

I for one welcome our fully clothed, balloon-popping female overlords.

Cheers

Re:Wow! (4, Funny)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928557)

I've never gotten such spam.

I'm surprised it was only 30% -- that kind of thing is bound to pique the interest of a whole lotta people.

(/user looks up from bubble wrap section)

I (pop) haven't either (pop) but, honestly, (pop!pop!) have no interest in the (pop!pop!pop!pop!) subject.

Now, clad in bubblewrap (pop), and the eventual popping (pop!pop!) is another subject (pop!pop!).

Re:Wow! (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928835)

Well I googled (you know. . to uh. . verify the integrity of the summary) but came across something also quite bizarre . . .2 people died [sptimes.com] after crawling into a large helium filled balloon in a rich suburban neighborhood. . .sometimes google surprises me with what it thinks is relevant to my query.

Sod the spammer, how about the sources of his info (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19927935)

'He sent spam to recovering gambling addicts enticing them to gambling Web sites. He used e-mail addresses of people known to have bought antianxiety medication or antidepressants and targeted them with pharmaceutical spam. '

Some companies dealing with confidential information clearly have been passing on this information.

This guy should be forced to disclose where he got the information from, so that these companies can be punished for poor data security, or worse, actually selling such sensitive private information on.

I also believe that there are laws against the exploitation of vulnerable people, but they're probably next to useless, and poorly defined (or specifically defined, so won't apply to X because it only mentions Y).

Re:Sod the spammer, how about the sources of his i (2, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928333)

How many people work at credit card and insurance companies doing low-paid data entry? How much more could they make if they were using some of their time to make lists of names and addresses of people with specific ailments or problems and selling them on the black market?

Re:Sod the spammer, how about the sources of his i (2, Insightful)

middlemen (765373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928817)

What about the possibility of spammers themselves working as data entry employees and then getting first hand access to data themselves and selling it or using it on the spam market ?

Jeeze! It is too simple (5, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927947)

As long as there is demand, and the business is profitable, you will have spam. Trying to get rid of spammers will only make it more profitable and worth the risks for those remaining. Wake up! It is no different than anything else. The customer drives this business, not the seller. They(the seller) are simply a response. Talk about passing the buck!

Re:Jeeze! It is too simple (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928155)

When a spammer intentionally targets gambling addicts with gambling spam, then the spammer deserves blame. I agree that often customers should be chided for supporting the spam business model, but gambling addicts are tormented enough and the blame falls with the spammer who exploits their demons.

Re:Jeeze! It is too simple (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928305)

It doesn't matter if you believe the bible or not, but check out who gets thrown out of the garden of eden in that little parable, which does hold up in a "rational" world. Hint: It wasn't the "spammer". Your addict there requires more intensive therapy. Resisting temptation is not the spammers responsibility. In a capitalist society, exploiting a weakness or a shortage(or creating a shortage) is a feature, not a bug.

Re:Jeeze! It is too simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928579)

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
I dunno, I'd say the spammer got punished pretty badly too.

Shut that door! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928849)

Hmmm...dust [youtube.com] ...

CAUTION! Don't watch this if you like cute, furry animals.

Re:Jeeze! It is too simple (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928735)

Capitalism or any other economic system can in fact be tempered with a sense of justice, fairness, and decency and still function. One way of ensuring that justice, fairness, and decency prevail is to call out the opposite when you see it. Just because something is a certain way doesn't mean it should be. Your wording isn't clear, so let me ask straight up: are you saying we shouldn't criticize people who engage in immoral or unethical behavior but legal behavior?

If a system encourages the exploitation of weakness, is it in the best interest of the weak to support such a system?

Re:Jeeze! It is too simple (1)

Marty_Krapturd (817250) | more than 7 years ago | (#19929045)

If a system encourages the exploitation of weakness, is it in the best interest of the weak to support such a system?

Yes. That's why I'm glad that food, water, healthcare, clothing and safe housing are free!

Re:Jeeze! It is too simple (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928415)

"The customer drives this business, not the seller. They(the seller) are simply a response. Talk about passing the buck!"

The solution is simple. The Chinese handled problems with the opium trade by killing the addicts. This drove down demand considerably. Perhaps a similar campaign can be waged on email users. I guarantee if all email recipients were killed, there would be a substantial reduction in successful spammers.

Re:Jeeze! It is too simple (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928587)

The Chinese handled problems with the opium trade by killing the addicts.

Ah, the old Texas way - "They needed killin'. Maybe I should spam governments with my "capital punishment" services, now with volume discounts. "Such a deal we have for you! Kill two, and get the third one FREE!"

The Brits wouldn't have it any other way [wsu.edu]

wtf?! (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927949)

"the product? A niche type of adult entertainment: photos of fully clothed women popping balloons ... "

fully clothed in what? nurses uniforms? fettish gear? rubber? a gimp suit?

popping ballons?! no sir, that is too much. is this some kind of freudian thing?

my mind boggles.

A Gimp Suit ?!? (0, Offtopic)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928089)

Ok...I wasn't going to google "balloon popping fetish"....but I'm probably going to have to google "gimp suit"....just when you think things can't get any more wierd, somebody comes along and moves the bar.

Re:A Gimp Suit ?!? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928439)

Rent "Pulp Fiction" and watch the kidnapping scene. That'll answer your question and some you didn't think to ask.

Re:A Gimp Suit ?!? (3, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928627)

No doubt there'll be some troll along shortly claiming that the GIMP suit is clunky and hard to use, and that they prefer a PhotoShop suit.

Re:wtf?! (1)

another_neophyte (1050364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928449)

fully clothed in balloons of course

Re:wtf?! (1)

nmos (25822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928695)

"the product? A niche type of adult entertainment: photos of fully clothed women popping balloons ... "

fully clothed in what? nurses uniforms? fettish gear? rubber? a gimp suit?


Well, fully clothed in balloons of course!

I don't believe in an afterlife... (5, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927955)

...but part of me wants there to be a very special hell for spammers (and people who talk in the theater).

Re:I don't believe in an afterlife... (1)

mroberts47 (1073802) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928005)

And that comment makes me wish I could mod you up for funny. :)

Re:I don't believe in an afterlife... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928121)

Gotta wonder where Spammers that talk in theaters end up?

Re:I don't believe in an afterlife... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928289)

They become Phyllis Diller's tampon.

Re:I don't believe in an afterlife... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928745)

I may never eat again. Thanks for that.

Re:I don't believe in an afterlife... (2, Funny)

slimyrubber (791109) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928457)

> "Yes, I know I'm going to hell," said Ed."

Aren't _all_ sales person?

Re:I don't believe in an afterlife... (1)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928519)

Firefly reference?

I know what it will look like (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928785)

The people who talk in theatre are watching their favorite movie for eternity, except the seat behind them holds a fully-clothed women popping balloons. And the seats to either side of them hold the men who are buying the videos of the fully-clothed women popping balloons.

Hmm, I wonder if Satan would pay me a usage fee if I trademarked that. Eh, probably not, he has enough lawyers to fight his way out of it.

Re:I don't believe in an afterlife... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928845)

Read Dante's Inferno or Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's sci-fi take on the same subject... I kind of like the ironic (some would say appropriate) justice meted out to the "sinner's" in these books!

ob ATHF (3, Funny)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927969)

Enjoy!
http://www.vimeo.com/78881 [vimeo.com]

Re:ob ATHF (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928189)

wow. I think that's the first time I've seen an 'obligatory' ATHF.

But yes. very applicable. (make the homies say ho, and the girlies wanna SCREAM!)

Hell you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19927979)

"A niche type of adult entertainment: photos of fully clothed women popping balloons" And he's going to hell? Oh shit...

Good news (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19927999)

Under the assumption that no one does nothing for nothing, this is good news as it indicates that the risk benifit curve has shifted so that selling a book is better money than spamming.

It is like those get rich quick schemes on paid TV. If it were so easy, then why is the promoter not making the million dollars a week instead of making cheesy commercials. If I made a million a week for a year, I certainly would not be on TV telling everyone about it, at the risk of reducing my real profit opportuities. I would hiding out in my fortress of richness and enjoying the money.

This also reinforces my assumption that for the most part spamming is just a way to make some easy money without much real work. Most people are not going to get rich off it, but if one is a country where a few thousand a year is good money, then hey, it beats doing honest work. It might even product the 20K a year one needs to live in the US. But like any organized crime, a few get insanely rich, and the rest get knocked off for pocket change.

Re:Good news (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928239)

If it were so easy, then why is the promoter not making the million dollars a week instead of making cheesy commercials.

I'm not saying all late-night TV schemers are legit (few are, imo). But once you've made your first million or so, you are pretty much set (Invest 3/4 of it and your RoR on a mediocre year is over 50k). You might as well train the 'next generation' with the understanding you get to tap a few % of what they make as overhead.

Re:Good news (1)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928321)

this is good news as it indicates that the risk benifit curve has shifted so that selling a book is better money than spamming.

Not really -- it probably indicative of him being tired of living an underground life and having to watch his back. And he's certainly sitting on good money. Like other markets (drugs, etc.) some people will push until they make enough money they are content with, then pack it in. It's just a calculated risk -- pursue something long enough to reach a certain cash goal, and if you happen to reach it, you walk away.

Quit while you're ahead, as they say.

Re:Good news (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#19929061)

its just like that song "the Gambler" hes at the walk away stage of the game some folks are at the RUN stage and then some are at the " can i get to Cheyene Mountain in time" stage

Re:Good news (2, Interesting)

reaper (10065) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928371)

It's pretty easy to see why someone would write a book about their success plan, instead of continuing it: More Money!

Take the "Make millions in real estate" category. It works... in fact, it's so rock-stupidly simple that TLC has shows about it now with people who really have no business in real estate somehow managing not to lose money. Sure, most of those people are only making $100K-$200K per year at it, but they don't do it for a living.

So, why don't these millionaire-author guys keep doing it? Because it's hard work all the time. Books, OTOH, are hard work for the time taken to research, write, and promote it.... but if it's a hit, it brings in money for years while you're.... that's right! Making more money using your system! Or not... nothing wrong with cashing in for a while, or maybe, like you said, the bottom has dropped out of the market they're pimping.

Granted there are plenty of crap systems out there, and all of them understate the amount of work required to do anything, but just because they have a book doesn't mean it doesn't work.

Re:Good news (5, Interesting)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928477)

This also reinforces my assumption that for the most part spamming is just a way to make some easy money without much real work. Most people are not going to get rich off it, but if one is a country where a few thousand a year is good money, then hey, it beats doing honest work. It might even product the 20K a year one needs to live in the US. But like any organized crime, a few get insanely rich, and the rest get knocked off for pocket change.
I know an owner of a legitimate "spam" business. The owner grosses over $20 million a year with an approximate 50% margin of profit. The amount of money made depends on several factors that are difficult to maintain over time, which is why you don't see everyone making 10's of millions dollars off spam.
  • a clean email list - cleaning an email list requires sending an email and not receiving a bounce. There is risk in testing the email because if you test too many bad ones you can get blocked, but once it's tested it's worth considerably more than an unclean email.
  • list of active users - users who opened or clicked. An order of magnitude more valuable than a clean email.
  • relationships - avoiding email blocks and getting unblocked
  • distributed servers - avoid email blocks by sending from and rotating multiple IPs. The more you have, the more stable the delivery is.
  • delivery - your email has to make it to the inbox. An order of magnitude more valuable than Bulk box delivery. Bulk delivery is still better than no delivery, which can be the case if you're blocked.
If you have all those factors in your favor, you can sustain the profits, which is what the major "legitimate" commercial emailers do. The true spammers are usually a bit more shitty, using trojans and disposable accounts, but achieve the same effect, usually at the cost of the ISP, however they're risking jail time if they're caught.

Re:Good news (1)

HouseArrest420 (1105077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928601)

It might even product the 20K a year one needs to live in the US.

Where the hell in the US do you live??? And do you have a room for rent?

I remember making 30k and wondering where the hell I was going to get the money for my son's meals at school that week. I guess with more money comes more things to spend it on, but I didn't start feeling secure with the amount I earned until I hit the 40k mark, and even that was mostly due to the investments I made while I was still in my teens.

20k is barely even entry level pay, I definitely wanna know where you live lol.............or maybe I don't, I can't decide lol.

Re:Good news (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928613)

Under the assumption that no one does nothing for nothing, this is good news as it indicates that the risk benifit curve has shifted so that selling a book is better money than spamming.
At a certain point, would have a very small marginal effect on quality of life. Whereas, writing a book about it gains him notoriety/fame, which he cannot easily buy.

Someone who is relatively poor might be quite willing to take the risk of spamming (see Todd Moeller, the bit player who went state's evidence in the Adam Vitale case), whereas someone like this guy doesn't get much of a benefit from the same amount of cash earnings.

Strange ending to the Summary... (2, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928003)

But Ed said he once got a 30 percent response rate for a campaign. The product? A niche type of adult entertainment: photos of fully clothed women popping balloons ... "Yes, I know I'm going to hell," said Ed.

This seems like the least objectionable use of spam. There seem to be three problems with spam.

First, truely evil spam that contains malware, fraudulent offers, or other things that people might call the police about if it arrived via snail-mail (I'm assuming the adult entertainment site was just pornography and not malware infested).

Second, that the spammer uses botnets to accomplish his goal, which is to hid his operation because of spam-filtering/laws etc (I'm assuming the botnet is just for anonimity, as a huge e-mail server shouldn't be that costly to run.)

Finally, that we are diluged in 3,000-1,000,000 e-mails a day for crap we don't want. But a 30% success rate means that the ads were fairly well targeted and most people did want them. Ignoring for the moment the scary database that produces these lists, if you got 10 pieces of spam offering you legitimite, cheap things you may want to buy, I don't think people would be upset at all. In fact, it might make a good e-commerce site. [midnightbox.com]

Re:Strange ending to the Summary... (1)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928135)

A mail server isn't that expensive to run, but if you're a spammer then it's going to need it's IP address changing on a regular basis, since it's going to get blacklisted frequently.

That's the advantage of a botnet - if you've got enough zombies in your network then there's no way they're all going to get blacklisted, and it's possible to replace nodes that have been quick enough that it won't make much difference.

Get off my lawn. (3, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928721)

Ignoring for the moment the scary database that produces these lists, if you got 10 pieces of spam offering you legitimite, cheap things you may want to buy, I don't think people would be upset at all. In fact, it might make a good e-commerce site.

I would. I'd mind terribly. Putting aside the creepy privacy issues (which would be enough to set me off), I just simply don't like push advertising at all. I don't want my life to interrupted by people interjecting their pleas for me to give them my money for crap I don't need.

I don't like TV ads. I don't like radio ads. I don't like billboards. I don't like fliers on phone poles. I HATE people who stick menus in my apartment door, I HATE telemarketers, and I'd hate spammers too even if they were selling me things I want. I have a habit of stopping doing business with any business that gets too pushy with its advertising (like the people who stick menus in your door), and a spam for something I want is the best way to keep me from ever buying it (at least from that vendor).

The only kind of advertising that I like is the kind where you list a product in some public forum, and I find it when I decide I'm in the market for it. (e.g. Froogle.) Anything that tries to come and find me to tell me how wonderful my life would be if I just bought it is annoying. (And God forbid an ad actually be effective and influence me to do something unwise with my money.) Unless your ad entertains me, go away.

(And yes, I realize that I am on the far end of crotchety about advertising, but that's just my opinion.)

Re:Get off my lawn. (0, Flamebait)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19929013)

If you've ever hit on a girl before, you're a hypocrite.

If you're female, are you against being hit on?

(I have the sneaking suspicion you're neither female nor a hypocrite...)

Long tail of fetish marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928981)

It's a bit like the 'Long Tail' ideas of Chris Anderson. The most effective spam will be the most niche.

fully clothed women popping balloons (2, Funny)

tsbiscaro (888711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928077)

Pics anyone?

Can you figure this out (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928123)

That's like saying someone always puts earth first. Knowing local legislative has always given readily independent a nalysis doings. Vacuum orders load down ever man offering republicans testimonies. Knowledge in locals locations has evermore influence on the environment. It makes sense if you look at the details.

How is he selling this book? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928143)

I think I got a spam e-mail today hawking this book.

Balloon Popping?! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928151)

Damn! A balloon fetish? Who would have thought? Ain't the Internet great?

For the lazy, see http://www.mellyloon.com/ [mellyloon.com] and http://www.looneynudes.com/preview/lnasampl.html [looneynudes.com] and others (Google away, dudes).

Oddly, it's just not appealing to me. I'm not be the Slashdot uber-geek I thought I was. Now perhaps, balloon pooping . . .

Spam gets a return rate. (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928213)

That makes it profitable, and because of that, spam will continue.

The only way to get rid of spam is for everyone on the planet to swear off buying anything based on spam based advertising. I know I never respond to spam, but there's always going to be that one person who does...

It may, but there may be solutions (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928253)

It all comes back to the who risk/reward thing. Lower the ratio enough, and you'll find fewer people willing to do it. So on the one side is increasing the risk. Used to be spam had no risk, other than maybe somebody punching you if they found out what you did for a living. Now there's starting to be some risk as a few spammers are getting prosecuted. So that's the first part of the solution is to grow the risk. Get better at having criminal and civil penalties dropped on spammers.

Then, of course, there's reducing the reward, the amount of people who respond. This is a technical solution in the form of better spam filtering. It's already getting much better. Even just 5 years ago it was still somewhat rare to see ISPs filter their mail, now virtually all of them do. Also the filtering itself is getting better. Rather than just rely on a simple analysis of a given message it is cross checking messages, some of it even across different organizations. By improving this we can drastically drop the number of people they are able to successfully contact and thus lower the reward. If 1 in 100 spams go to someone, you don't need many of those someones to respond to make some money. However if less than 1 in 10,000,000 go through, you need a much higher response rate to make it worth while.

So while there's not a silver bullet it IS something that can be mitigated by going at it from a couple of different ways. If it goes from something you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on with zero risk to something that it's hard to make a couple grand a month on that is likely to put you in prison, the number of spammers will start dropping.

Re:It may, but there may be solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928691)

I have to say the best way that i've run across so far to stop drive by spamming (a bot comes online and blows out a couple thousand messages then shuts down)

Is http://www.openbsd.org/spamd/ [openbsd.org] with greylisting. It's an email deferral daemon. Effectively it will stop any email from a non RFC spec email server. Which of course is pretty much every botnet out there. Now it won't by itself stop real email servers from spewing spam at you, but it stops all of the bots, and even soaks up valuable time from those said spammers.

Add to the fact that you can just inline it infront of your email servers with no configuration changes to your email server or mx records, and it's beatiful.

Just an easy way to remove botnet spammers.

AC

Born Every Minute (4, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928311)

From the article:

The ultimate unsolvable problem is users, who continue to buy products marketed by spam, making the industry possible.

Huh. There's a sucker born every minute. [wikipedia.org] The Interenet hasn't changed human nature - just given the con men more tools.

Innocuous? (2, Interesting)

Mr_Icon (124425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928331)

Yes, let's see... women forced to do something that they are frightened of... complete with shrieks, wincing, and hesitation.

Now, let's think of the kinds of people who would pay money to watch that...

Thought so.

Re:Innocuous? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928637)

Uh.. not to be rude, but how come you know so much about the contents of balloon-based pornography? It's not as if any of what you wrote is obvious - popping balloons is neither at all dangerous nor any sort of a taboo for regular women(or men). There's no obvious reason why there'd be wincing, fear or hesitation.

Morally acceptable piracy (1)

Teppy (105859) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928353)

If I were a juror, I would under no circumstances punish someone for pirating this guy's book.

if only that were true... (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928357)

If all the spam were really targeted that well, I doubt there'd be so much animosity to the problem (except from credit service companies and psychologists who treat addicted gamblers).

What gets me is that after twenty years of using email, and 15 years of getting spam email, and 10 years with the same email address, I am currently getting a breakdown of spams like this (numbers guessed but not unrealistically):

  • 600/wk prescription or herbal drug offers
  • 400/wk money transfer scams
  • 300/wk stock pump-n-dump tips (usually gif)
  • 300/wk foreign language (hebrew and russian are big this month)
  • 200/wk long-lost-friend contacting you
  • 200/wk bayes bombs with no discernable ad
  • 150/wk fishing scams

After not responding to any of this, it's not like I'm a good target for any of these, but they still come at me as fast as the MX responds.

This month has had a brutal surge, a lot of new russian and long-lost-friend stuff is getting around my current spam filtering solutions.

No Porn??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928665)

Wow, you must be the only person on the planet who doesn't get porn spam. Well, you and that one guy in Siberia who still doesn't have an email account.

Sounds like a hoax... But is not (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928385)

I don't think, this article was written by a real (ex-)spammer. Either that, or it has been too heavily edited be plausible.

If he deliberately targeted only recovering gambling addicts or only people in need of particular drugs, he is not even a spammer by some of the (vague) definitions — spammers carpet-bomb all addresses they can reach, without trying to narrow down to the (relatively) small groups of addressees, as a more responsible marketeer would do (not to defend those types).

But, wait a minute, the article was not written by "Ed", as the write-up would imply, it simply (mis)quotes and sensationalizes him.

Being "the things, that people hate about the Internet" was not dramatic enough for the magazine — they had to add these details, which aren't even true. Why target "recovering gambling addicts", when you are going to get more money from those, who have not started recovering, for example?

Shoddy journalism, again...

Re:Sounds like a hoax... But is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19929115)

If he deliberately targeted only recovering gambling addicts or only people in need of particular drugs, he is not even a spammer by some of the (vague) definitions -- spammers carpet-bomb all addresses they can reach, without trying to narrow down to the (relatively) small groups of addressees
Bingo -- the article didn't say he only sent the gambling email to recovering addicts. If he sent the gambling spam to the whole world, he also sent it to all the recovering addicts.

Why target "recovering gambling addicts", when you are going to get more money from those, who have not started recovering, for example?
He got those too. And me got me too, God Damn his worthless soul.

Book distribution? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928559)

So am I going to get four copies of the book every week in my real mailbox in packages with nonexistent return addresses while a guy punches me, takes my credit card, and bills me for the books?

Technical details? (1)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928655)

Has anyone seen the book? I would be interested in it if it provided sufficient technical details about how the spammer operated. (Though, I think I'd be more tempted to steal the book than actually buy it.)

Nice Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19928825)

"I'm actually a really nice guy. Trust me."
and then...

In short, Ed said he was "basically what people hate about the Internet."
I don't think he has a firm understanding of the phrase "nice guy".

Spam (1)

Stalinbulldog (925149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19928829)

Buy the book and you'll get free complimentary book recommendations, also links to pr0n involving cans of spam...
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