Greetings and Salutations:
This is addition to the most excellent:
Net Abuse FAQ (posted to news.admin.net-abuse.misc, alt.current- events.net-abuse etc...), brought to you by J.D. Falk
<[email protected]> :
And Bill's WWW page "Everything You'd Rather Not Have To Know About Net-Abuse" :
The latest & greatest version of this FAQ will be found at:
PLEASE email follow-ups, additions / changes to [email protected]
My news source is OK, but I sometimes miss items.
There are places in this FAQ with ALL CAPS. This is where I need some help or input. I accept all and any input. I consider myself to be the manager of this FAQ for the good of everyone, not the absolute & controlling Owner Of The FAQ. I do not always write in a completely coherent manner. What makes sense to me may not make sense to others.
If the community wants something added or deleted, I will do so. I removed any e-mail and last name references to someone making a suggestion / addition.. This is so that someone doesn't get upset at this FAQ and do something stupid. If you don't mind having your e- mail in this FAQ (or where it is required), please tell me and I will add it back in.
First off, before trying to determine where the post or e-mail originated from, you should realize that (just like the National Inquirer, or a logical argument from C&S) the message will have some amount of truth, but all or most of the information may be forged. Be careful before accusing someone.
Commands used in this FAQ are UNIX & VMS commands. Sorry if they don't work for you, you might wish to try looking around at your commands to find an equivalent command (or I might be able to help out some).
And no, I am not going to tell you how to post a fake message or fake e-mail. It only took me about 2 days (a few hours a day) to figure it out. It ain't difficult.
Three sections to this portion of the FAQ :
Tracing an e-mail message o Listserve messages
Tracing a posted message
What is an IP address and converting an IP address o WWW IP Lookup URL's o Converting that IP to a name
Getting a complaint to the correct person
Filtering E-Mail using procmail or News with Gnus
Misc. (Because I can't spell miscellaneous :-)) stuff I couldn't think to put anywhere else. o Origins of Spam o The MMF (Make Money Fast) Posts or any fraud on the
o Those annoying 1-900 & 1-800 Sex Phone Ads o How To Respond to SPAM
Revenge - What to do & not to do (mostly not) o Telephoning someone o Snail Mailing someone
Every e-mail or post will have a point at which it was injected into the information stream. E-mail will have a real computer from which it was passed along. Likewise a post will have a news server that started passing the post. You need to get cooperation of the postmaster at the sites the message passed thru. Then you can get information from the logs telling you what sites the message actually passed thru, and where the message "looked" like it passed thru (but actually didn't). Of course you do have to have the cooperation of all the postmasters in a string of sites...
Tracing an e-mail message
First (and easiest) thing to forge is the e-mail return address. Most personal computer posting software lets you type in just about any e- mail address you want to (for example the software I am using to post this message). Unless someone is a real idiot or they truly don't know they will annoy tons of people, they will forge a fake e-mail return or put in the e-mail of someone they don't like.
It seems that most machines will accept e-mail from any other machine, so don't send e-mail to postmasters at "upstream" sites that are just passing the message along.
You will need to take a look at the headers on the message (if you can) In PINE (for example) hit "h" to get headers. Look for a line like the following:
You should look at the message ID first & see what site it appeared to come from (the part after the "@" sign). If it is a bunch of numbers (an IP address) then you should then do a "nslookup" (see further below for a description of nslookup) to see what the site name is. Furthermore all the message-ID lines should have a unique number. If not then you have someone who is very familiar with the SMTP protocol and is forging the e-mail to another site (like the Euphoria Tape spammer). Sometimes this header will even tell you who the message actually came from.
From the below, the only way we can tell the origin site is in the Message-Id (which has an IP of 220.127.116.11) is to do a nslookup on the IP address, and proceed from there.
>Received: from [18.104.22.168] (ppp007.free.org [22.214.171.124]) by
>sirocco.CC.McGill.CA (8.6.12/8.6.6) with SMTP id EAA16681; Sat, 11 Nov 1995
>X-SMTP-Posting-Origin: [126.96.36.199] (ppp007.free.org [188.8.131.52])
>X-Sender: [email protected] (Unverified)
Sample fake e-mail message :
From [email protected] Sat Nov 11 13:16 EST 1995
Received: from wavenet.com (wavenet.com [184.108.40.206]) by
ddi.digital.net (8.6.11/8.6.9) with ESMTP id NAA04656 for
<[email protected]>; Sat, 11 Nov 1995 13:16:03 -0500
Received: from ddi.digital.net (ddi.digital.net [220.127.116.11]) by
wavenet.com (8.6.12/8.6.9) with SMTP id KAA27279 for
[email protected]; Sat, 11 Nov 1995 10:27:52 -0800
Received: from wavenet.com (wavenet.com [18.104.22.168]) by
ddi.digital.net (8.6.11/8.6.9) with ESMTP id OAA18017 for
<[email protected]>; Tue, 24 Oct 1995 14:09:46 -0400
Received: from inetlis.wavenet.com (port16.wavenet.com
[22.214.171.124]) by wavenet.com (8.6.12/8.6.9) with SMTP id LAA02685 for <[email protected]>; Tue, 24 Oct 1995 11:21:12 -0700
This is a mail message I sent to myself just to use as an example. I have cut out a bit of the other header information so that I could take a look at just the important parts.
Obvious faked piece is the "From" address. You read the headers from the bottom to the top to trace which sites the message has gone thru.
Make sure that you do a nslookup on the IP address's (for example I would verify 126.96.36.199 actually is wavenet.com). If the IP doesn't jive with the name then you may have the IP address of the e- mail faker. This message decodes to the following
port16.wavenet.com = 188.8.131.52
wavenet.com = 184.108.40.206
ddi.digital.net = 220.127.116.11
From site To site Date / Time (delta GMT)
Time in GMT hh:mm:ss
inetlis.wavenet.com wavenet.com Tue, 24 Oct 1995 11:21:12 -0700
wavenet.com ddi.digital.net Tue, 24 Oct 1995 14:09:46 -400
ddi.digital.net wavenet.com Sat, 11 Nov 1995 10:27:52 -800
wavenet.com ddi.digital.net Sat, 11 Nov 1995 13:16:03 -500
Wolfgang Schelongowski <[email protected]> reminds us : The first is hh:mm.ss WULT (WULT == Widely Unknown Local Time :-)) with a delta from GMT, so you add in the delta to get a "zero" time. The time is from the computer transmitting, so it is possible to have the clocks several minutes apart.
GMT = Greenwich Mean Time. The "time" was kept at RGO (Royal Greenwich Observatory?), Greenwich England at one time and is also known as UTC (UTC = Coordinated Universal Time, or Universal Coordinated Time) or "Zulu" or Zero time. It is kept by the UK National Physical Laboratory, and is no longer at the RGO (Royal Greenwich Observatory?).
I manually inserted the first two mail transfers myself (as you can see from the date / times) to muddy the waters. It looks like this message originated from inetlis.wavenet.com, when in reality it came from ddi.digital.net. The date / time (in this case) tells you that something is wrong, but sometimes a computer may be down along the way which would hold up the mail. You really need cooperation from other people & get multiple messages to compare the headers. There will be a common "injection" point.
Whether it is the starting point or in the middle. Ask that postmaster to look thru the logs & figure out who sent that e-mail. Someone from the first common injection point "From" site spammed out the e-mail. It has been kindly pointed out to me that there is a "feature" (read "bug") in the UNIX mail spool wherein the person e-mailing you a message can append a "message" (with the headers) to the end of their message.
It makes the mail reader think you have 2 messages when the joker that sent the original message only sent one message (with a fake message appended). If the headers look really screwy, you might look at the message before the screwy message and consider if it may not be a "joke" message.
A Listserve is an automated (moderated or unmoderated) mailing list for an interest group. A message gets sent to the Listserve and it gets passed to everyone on the Listserve list. A one to many relationship.
Example Header appears below:
Received: from dir.bham.ac.uk (dir.bham.ac.uk [18.104.22.168]) by
gol1.gol.com (8.7.5/8.6.9) with SMTP id GAA27292 for
Sun, 5 May 1996 06:31:15 +0900 (JST)
Received: from bham.ac.uk by dir.bham.ac.uk with SMTP (PP) using DNS
id <[email protected]>; Sat, 4 May 1996 20:56:49 +0100
Received: from emout09.mail.aol.com (actually emout09.mx.aol.com) by
bham.ac.uk with SMTP (PP); Sat, 4 May 1996 21:13:03 +0100
Received: by emout09.mail.aol.com (8.6.12/8.6.12) id PAA29156; Sat, 4
May 1996 15:35:53 -0400
Date: Sat, 4 May 1996 15:35:53 -0400
From: [email protected]
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
Subject: CRaZy Complimentary Offer........
This is a post from Kevin Lipsitz for his "===>> FREE 1 yr. USA Magazine Subscriptions". Reports are that he doesn't provide very good service after the sale of the subscription (that is if you even get a magazine). In relation to the Internet he makes a slimy used car salesman look like a saint. We won't even start to discuss the fact the he likes to use female names for his messages...
For more info about "Krazy Kevin" or the Magazine Spam , Tony tells us the page "Stop Spam!" is available in html format at:
Joel mentions that if you want even more details about Kevin, do a search on "Lipsitz" in www.altavista.digital.com or www.lycos.com or a similar search.
That having been said, e-mail from a Listserve can usually be broken down the same way as "normal" e-mail headers. There are just more waypoints along the way. As you can see from the above, the e-mail originated from :
You might with to also direct the listserve owner to look at & ask questions in news.admin.net-abuse.misc about how to keep spam off the listserve. It probably won't be all that difficult of a thing to do.
Tracing a posted message
Tracing a fake post is probably easier than a fake e-mail because of some posting peculiarities. You just have to save and look at a few "normal" posts to try to spot peculiarities. Most people are not energetic to go to the lengths of the below, but you never know.
Dan reminds us that first you should gather the same post from several different sites (get your friends to mail the posts to you) and look at the "Path" line. Somewhere it should "branch". If there is a portion that is common to all posts, then the "actual" posting computer is (most likely) in that portion of the path. That should be the starting postmaster to contact. Be sure to do this expeditiously because the log files that help to trace these posts may be deleted daily.
Once again, start by looking at the Message-ID, and ask yourself if that site makes sense. Again, look at the number after the Message-ID and see if it is identical for several different posts (i.e. posts to different groups). Message-ID's are unique for each different post. If the Message-ID is the same, then it is faked. If you really want to see some fake posts, look in alt.test or in the alt.binaries.wares.* groups.
A fake post:
From: [email protected](Female User)
Subject: Femdom In Search of Naughty Boys
Sender: [email protected](Female User)
Organization: Internet Direct, Inc.
X-Newsreader: Trumpet for Windows[Version 1.0 Rev B final beta #1]
Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 01:59:38 GMT
Approved: [email protected]
This poor lady (Name deleted by suggestion) was abused by someone for a couple of days in an epic spam. Many messages were gathered. The message ID was different for several messages. But several anomalies showed an inept poster. The headers were screwed up, and when looking at a selection of messages from several sites, the central site was news.net99.net, where goodnet.com gets / injects news at. This lead to the conclusion that either goodnet.com or news.net99.net should be contacted to see who the original spammer was. I never heard the results of this, but the spamming eventually stopped. E-Mail return is probably the easiest to fake and is always suspect. The NNTP-Posting-Host and / or Message-ID are harder to fake (but not much harder...) and probably deserve a closer look at those sites. You can try looking at sites & see if they have that message by : telnet s46.phxslip4.indirect.com 119
Connected to s46.phxslip4.indirect.com.
200 s46.phxslip4.indirect.com InterNetNews server INN 1.4 22-Dec-93 ready
430 Message was not found at that site, so it did not go thru that computer, or the article has already expired or been deleted off of that news reader.
What is an IP address and converting an IP address
When all you have is a number the looks like "22.214.171.124", and no computer name, then you have to figure out what the name of that computer is. Most likely if you complain to "[email protected]" it will go directly to the spammer themselves (if it goes anywhere at all).
WWW IP Lookup URL's
A whole host of WWW IP utils is thoughtfully provided by Mike at : http://sh1.ro.com/~mprevost/netutils/netutils.html
Or for a WWW Traceroute you can try the URL :
For a WWW version of Dig :
WWW Nslookup : http://thor.clr.com/nslookup.html
SWITCH WHOIS Gateway:
TIG Internet Domain-Name Database :
IP to Lat - Lon (For those times when only a Tactical Nuke will do ;- )) :
Yet Another IP to name:
Converting that IP to a name
If the site is a IP address like "127.0.0.0", you can do a DNS lookup to backtrack the site. A DNS lookup or a host command (see example below) uses the info in a Domain Name Server database. This is the same info that is used for packet routing. The UNIX command is :
And you get :
Addresses: 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52
InterNIC is your friend. The InterNIC Registration Services Host contains ONLY Internet Information (Networks, ASN's, Domains, and POC's). Please use the whois server at nic.ddn.mil for MILNET Information. Try :
If that doesn't provide anything, try chopping off the last digits and you might get:
BBN BARRNET, Inc. (NETBLK-NETBLK-BARRNET4) NETBLK-BARRNET4
184.108.40.206 - 220.127.116.11
Slip.Net (NETBLK-NETBLK-SLIP) NETBLK-SLIP 18.104.22.168 -
Success! BARRNet has the blocks of the IP's.
John tells us :
Um yes, but that particular sub-block belongs to slip.net... barrnet is obviously slip.net's provider, the barrnet block looks like 4 class B's (or 256 THOUSAND IP's..), while the slip.net block is a mere 32 class C's (or 8 thousand IP's)...
So a whois NETBLK-SLIP gives us (among other information) : Slip.Net (NETBLK-NETBLK-SLIP)
Netblock: 22.214.171.124 - 126.96.36.199
To see who the upstream provider is, try :
multinet traceroute ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com
You might get :
traceroute to IP30.ABQ-DIALIN.HOLLYBERRY.COM (188.8.131.52), 30 hops max, 38 byte packets
1 cpe2.Washington.mci.net (184.108.40.206) 190 ms 210 ms 120 ms
2 borderx1-hssi2-0.Washington.mci.net (220.127.116.11) 100 ms 100 ms 60 ms
3 core-fddi-0.Washington.mci.net (18.104.22.168) 180 ms 130 ms 70 ms
4 core1-hssi-4.LosAngeles.mci.net (22.214.171.124) 150 ms 140 ms 150 ms
5 core-hssi-4.Bloomington.mci.net (126.96.36.199) 180 ms 200 ms 180 ms
6 border1-fddi-0.Bloomington.mci.net (188.8.131.52) 170 ms 290 ms 240 ms
7 internet-direct.Bloomington.mci.net (184.108.40.206) 300 ms 210 ms 270 ms
8 220.127.116.11 (18.104.22.168) 180 ms 240 ms 180 ms
9 abq-phx-gw1.indirect.com (22.214.171.124) 290 ms 220 ms 230 ms
Humm..... Seems that after abq-phx-gw1.indirect.com we get no response, so that is who I would complain to... or you can just send a message to [email protected]
JamBreaker sez : Be sure to let the traceroute go until the traceroute
stops after 30 hops or so. A reply of "* " doesn't mean that you've got the right destination; it just means that either the gateways don't send ICMP "time exceeded" messages or that they send them with a ttl (time-to-live) too small to reach you.
Try 'dig' (or one of its derivatives), it is used to search DNS records :
(For the software : http://www.rediris.es/ftp/infoiris/red/ip/dns/dig- 2.0/
yourhost> dig -x 126.96.36.199
; <<>> dig 2.0 <<>> -x
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY , status: NOERROR, id: 6 ;; flags: qr aa rd ra ; Ques: 1, Ans: 1, Auth: 3, Addit: 3
;; 188.8.131.52.in-addr.arpa, type = ANY, class = IN
184.108.40.206.in-addr.arpa. 86400 PTR
;; AUTHORITY RECORDS:
11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns.psi.net.
11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns2.psi.net.
11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns5.psi.net.
;; ADDITIONAL RECORDS:
ns.psi.net. 86400 A 220.127.116.11
ns2.psi.net. 86400 A 18.104.22.168
ns5.psi.net. 86400 A 22.214.171.124
;; Sent 1 pkts, answer found in time: 64 msec
;; FROM: (yourhostname) to SERVER: default -- (yourDNSip) ;; WHEN: Thu Nov 16 23:30:42 1995
;; MSG SIZE sent: 43 rcvd: 216
Getting a complaint to the correct person
O.K... So you have a common site that you can complain to. Good. Post the FULL HEADERS (this is very important for tracing) to news.admin.net-abuse.misc and send complaint with FULL HEADERS in e- mail to any or all of the below :
Chris tells us :
If you see MMFs or other gross abuses from AOL, MSN, MCI (_not_internetmci), Primenet, Panix, please do not report them to news.admin.net-abuse.misc. Just wastes bandwidth. Email your report directly to the provider:
By "gross abuses", please try to ensure that it really is likely to be spam. Not one article cross-posted lots, but lots of articles that you see yourself. In AOL or MCI's case, the definition of abuse is somewhat stricter (AOL bans commercial use. MCI's tolerance thresholds is lower)
Hongkong's ISPs - send an email to [email protected] with anything
in the subject/body. You'll get a most recent version of the list contacts by email within minutes.
interserve.com.hk - Mr. K H Lee - [email protected]
IBM Net - [email protected] - Also see
Note : If the Spam crosses MCI lines, Contact
[email protected] if the headers in a Usenet or Email spam indicate that it had something to do with MCI or its lines.
MCSNet - [email protected]
Netcom- [email protected] for standard SPAM junk. [email protected] is for instances of forgery, cracking etc.
PSI Net - [email protected] - From [email protected] PSI Net policies - http://www.pipeline.com, http://www.usa.pipeline.com, http://www.interramp.com
Slip Net - [email protected] - Tech Support
Teleport System Administration - teleport.com - [email protected] UUNET Customer Liaison - [email protected]
please remember to include a complete copy of the USENET article, including all headers, to help us quickly quash the abuse.
Scott reminds us :
It might also be a good idea to remind people that sometimes the postmaster is the spammer. Joe Spam might have his own domain (since they used to be free) inside of which they are the postmaster. This is terrifyingly common with net.twits (kooks, etc.) but seems rare for spam. A quick note that if the spammer is the admin contact in whois, notifying the postmaster will surely generate laughs on their end.
If you don't get a proper response from the postmaster, remember, Whois - rs.internic.net is your friend. You can get information on / about a site by:
The InterNIC Registration Services Host contains ONLY Internet Information (Networks, ASN's, Domains, and POC's). Please use the whois server at nic.ddn.mil for MILNET Information.
This should get you a person to talk to & their personal e-mail address. If you don't get any response from that postmaster, then you should try the provider to that site. This gets a little trickier, but a multinet traceroute should show you the upstream provider, and from there you can try contacting the postmasters of that site.
Worst case, a site can be UDP (Usenet Death Penalty) out so that other sites stop accepting news or even e-mail from that site. They are cut off from the net. Decisions like this are discussed in the news group news.admin.net-abuse.misc .
Thanx to Leslie, whom to contact about domains that have invalid contact information :
Internic Registration Services should be contacted by phone:
703/742-4777 or email:
If you think you know a machine close to the spammer, you can change your default DNS lookup server (and get lots more info ;-)) by : $ nslookup
> server wb3ffv.abs.net
Default Server: wb3ffv.abs.net
> ls -d kjl.com
kjl.com. SOA kjl.com dns-admin.abs.net. (10
21600 3600604800 86400)
kjl.com. NS ns1.abs.net
kjl.com. NS ns2.abs.net
kjl.com. MX 10 abs.net
kjl.com. SOA kjl.com dns-admin.abs.net. (10
21600 3600604800 86400)
If you are quick enough, you can see if the spammer is still on by : multinet RUSERS rust.nmt.edu And you might get : kuller ray timbers jweinman timbers john timbers rayzer Assuming that the spammer is from ingress.com you can expand the Spammers UserID (some sites have expn / vrfy turned off) by: > telnet ingress.com smtp
Trying 126.96.36.199 ...
Connected to ingress.com.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 ingress.com Sendmail 4.1/SMI-4.1 ready at Sun, 22 Oct 95 15:13:39 EDT
250 Lipsitz Kevin
> set type=mx
gnn.com preference = 20, mail exchanger = mail-e1a.gnn.com gnn.com preference = 10, mail exchanger = mail-e1b.gnn.com
telnet mail-e1a.gnn.com smtp 220 mail-e1a.gnn.com ESMTP Sendmail 8.7.1/8.6.9 ready at Thu, 11 Jan 1996 12:54:26 -0500 (EST) expn postmaster 250-<[email protected]> 250 <[email protected]> expn root 250-
You can use the 'host' command. It's really simple:
host -t any domain.name
This will give you anything your name server can find out.
host -t ns domain.name
This tells you the name servers. Not all systems have host, but it's a small program which should be easy to compile (like whois).
The command "last" will tell where the spammer logged on from last, but it has to be done by a user from that site. For example :
Would produce :
imrket4u ttypf ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com Fri Sep 15 00:27
- 00:34 (00:06)
imrket4u ttyq8 ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com Fri Sep 15 00:19
- 00:20 (00:01)
imrket4u ttyqc abq-ts1 Thu Sep 14 20:42 - 22:21
imrket4u ttyqc rust.nmt.edu Thu Sep 14 18:39 - 18:41
imrket4u ttypb abq-ts1 Thu Sep 14 17:55 - 17:57
Filtering E-Mail using procmail or News with Gnus
Get the procmail FAQ :
Or read about it when it is posted to :
Newsgroups: comp.mail.misc , comp.mail.elm , comp.mail.pine ,
comp.answers , news.answers
Subject: Filtering Mail FAQ
Brian has a Gnus scorefile from the Internet blacklist :
Or his example global scorefile :
Many news readers have a "kill" file that will filter out the posts from either a certain user-id, or posts with certain titles. Each news reader is unique. You might wish to read the help file on the subject of kill files.
Origins of Spam
The history of calling inappropriate postings in great numbers "Spam" is from a Monty Python skit (yes, it is very silly...) where a couple go into a restaurant, and try to get something other than Spam. In the background are a bunch of Vikings that sing the praises of Spam. Pretty soon the only thing you can hear in the skit is the word "Spam". That same idea would happen to the Internet if large scale inappropriate postings were allowed. You couldn't pick the real postings out from the Spam.
Black listed Internet Advertisers :
http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~axel/BL/ or http://www.ip.net/BL/blacklist.html
First off, the only CORRECT way to "Spam" the net :
Show SPAM Gifts http://wolf.co.net/spamgift/index.html
A collection of Spam links :
The Church of Spam :
The MMF (Make Money Fast) Posts or any fraud on the Internet
There is a WWW site dedicated to any kind of fraud. It is : A partnership of the National Association of Attorneys General, the Federal Trade Commission and The National Consumers League http://www.fraud.org/
Wolfgang Schelongowski <[email protected]> sez :IMHO MMF is associated with "Hello, my name is Dave Rhodes. In 198...".
There was also a forged article purporting to tell how MMF is illegal :
From: [email protected] (Melvin Purvis)
^^^^^^^^^^^^^ he arrested / shot John Dillinger.
Subject: 'Make Money Fast' Scam
Jon said : "Hermann" appears to have spammed at least 27 Bitnet
mailing lists, including TANGO-L, where I saw it, with a standard MMF. I checked at the US Post Office web site and verified that chain letters are federal crimes under Title 18, United State Code, Section 1302. This does apply to email as well as paper; quoting from URL
From http://www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect/chainlet.htm : "Recently, high-tech chain letters have begun surfacing. They may be disseminated over the Internet, or may require the copying and mailing of computer disks rather than paper. Regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme, if the mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal."
To find your nearest postal inspector in the USA, see URL
http://www.usps.gov/ncsc/locators/find-is.html I believe that the applicable Canadian description can be found at : http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/html/commerc.htm
And from the Canadian Department of Justice server
STATUTES OF CANADA,C,Competition - PART VI OFFENSES IN RELATION TO COMPETITION - Definition of "scheme of pyramid selling" - Section 55.1
DOES ANYBODY HAVE POSTAL INSPECTOR ADDRESSES FOR OTHER COUNTRIES THAT PONZI / MMF SCHEMES ARE ILLEGAL IN?
Those annoying 1-900 & 1-800 Sex Phone Ads
I would like to thank Eileen at the FTC for kindly answering my questions about 1-900 & 1-800 phone numbers.
Paraphrasing what she e-mailed me :
When a 1-900 number is advertised, the price must also be disclosed (this may be found at 16 CFR Part 308).
When calling a 1-800 number that charges, there must be an existing subscription agreement between the buyer and the seller
http://www.ftc.gov/ Federal Trade Commission Home Page
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/telemark/rule.htm Telemarketing Sales Rule http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/telemark/telesale.htm Telemarketing Sales Rule http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/scams01.htm Online Scams
(from the "Online Scams" page)
For More Information
If you have a question or complaint about a suspect online ad or promotion, contact your commercial service provider. In addition, you can file complaints with your state attorney general, consumer protection office or with the Federal Trade Commission (write to: Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade Commission, 6th St. & Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580). Also, contact the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, 845 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022.
Questions about whether or not an investment sales person is licensed, or if an offered security is registered, should be directed to the Office of Consumer Affairs, Securities and Exchange Commission, 202- 942-7040.
The National Fraud Information Center maintains a toll-free Consumer Assistance Service, 1-800-876-7060, to provide consumers with answers to questions about telephone or mail solicitations and online scams. They also offer information about how and where to report fraud and give help in filing complaints.
How To Respond to SPAM
Howard reminds us :
Note to all: NEVER followup to a spam. NEVER. Express your indignation in mail to the poster and/or the
[email protected], but NEVER in the newsgroups!
But what about the newbies who look at a group, see lots of spam and ads, see NO posts decrying them, and conclude that ads are therefore OK?
Ran replies :
When it gets bad, you'll usually see some "What can we do about this?" threads. That's a good place to attach a reply that tells people why it's bad, and what they can, in fact, do.
At the risk of attracting flames, let me suggest an exception to Howard's law. A followup is allowed if the following 3 conditions hold.
1) The offending article is clearly a SCAM (for instance, the Canada calls with the Seychelles Islands phone # scam)
2) No one else has followed-up with a posting identifying it as a scam (in other words, no 'Me too' warnings)
3) It is unlikely to be canceled soon, either because it seems to be below the thresholds, or it is in a local hierarchy that doesn't get cancels, or Chris Lewis is on vacation in the Seychelles Islands. If all three conditions are met, a followup that X's out the contact information , severely trims the contents and identifies the post as a scam is exempt from Howard's law.
Bill's and Wolfgang's addition :
4) Follow-ups should be cross posted to n.a.n-a.m and the groups of the spam, but Followup-To: MUST be set to n.a.n-a.m ONLY or post a follow-up and SET Followup-To: alt.dev.null. In the first case change
Subject: Important FREE $$$
Subject: SPAM (was Re: Important FREE $$$)
and include the original Newsgroups and Message-ID line, so the professional despammers will immediately find what you're talking about. Do not post unless you're absolutely sure that you can do all that properly. Also 1) - 3) do apply. If you see the same article with different Message-IDs in several groups, collect the complete headers of each article and check n.a.n-a.m if it's already been reported. If not, start a thread with
Subject: SPAM (was Re:
of the headers and as much of the body of one article as you see fit.
Revenge - What to do & not to do
No matter how much we hate Spam and how much we dislike what the spammers to our quiet little corner of the Universe known as the Internet, Spam is not illegal (yet). If you try anything against the spammers, please do not put yourself in risk of breaking the law. It only makes them happy if you get in trouble because you were trying to get back at them.
The reason why spammers use "throwaway" accounts is because they know the e-mail account will be deleted. They usually provide either another e-mail address or a name / phone number or postal address so that prospective "customers" can be contacted. Be sure to complain to the postmaster of all e-mail names provided to make sure that this route is inhibited.
Calling someone once is fine. If enough people are pissed at the spammer and they all call the 1-800 number the spammer provides, the spammer will get the idea (sooner or later) that it is costing them more in irate people (and most especially loss of business) and it is not worth it to spam.
Do not dial any phone numbers more than once from your home. Phone harassment is illegal and you can be prosecuted in court for this. Even tho' *67 prevents your number from being displayed on their telephone at home if they have caller ID, *57 will give the phone company the number. If it is a 1-800 number there are two problems. First they can always get your phone number, and secondly it may not be a toll free number. You may be charged for calling a 1-800 number.
Likewise, do not call collect using 1-800-COLLECT or 1-800-CALL-ATT from home, once again this can be traced.
Austin comments : I would say that calling a listed non-800 number
once collect to voice a complaint is not harassment, but justified. They sent you a postage due message, didn't they? If they don't want to accept collect calls, they should say so - and if they do, you should be a responsible person and not do it again.
AT&T Information for 1-800 numbers is 1-800-555-1212, but that only helps if you know the company name you are trying to call. Also, you can try searching for a 1-800 number (you do not have to know the company name) at :
http://www.tollfree.att.net/dir800/ or http://www.tollfree.att.net/cgi-bin/taos_mf.pl?unix (advanced search options).
Snail Mailing someone
Likewise, one well thought out letter sent to the spammer might help convince the spammer not to do this again. Especially if the spammer was part of a corporation that didn't realize the detrimental effects of spamming the Internet.
If you decide to deluge the spammers postal address by filling out one or two "bingo" (popcorn) postage paid cards in the technical magazines (by circling a few dozen "product info" requests per card & putting on printed out self sticking labels with the spammers address), or by putting preprinted labels on postage paid cards that come in the mail in the little plastic packages, don't organize a public campaign (that they can point to) against the spammer in the newsgroup.
Scott also reminds us :
Since this is the "Spam FAQ", I'd like to point this out: You're basically Spamming the company offering information in a magazine. It costs companies money, not the one you're spamming. They get a free pile of junk which is easy to throw out. In other words, this may be harming third parties more than the intended target. I'm not trying to be Mr. Nice Guy, just trying to point out an important technicality.
You should also read Title 47 of the United States Code, Section 227. There is a FAQ at cornell.law.edu for the text of the law (gopher or ftp or http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/47/227.html), and you can use Dejanews to read the USC 47 thread on n.a.n-a.m. to make up your own mind (it invariably comes up) or you can look at :
Organizing a campaign against the spammer in a news group could lead to the spammer trying to get a cease & desist police order against the organizers. On the upside note, the spammer will have to try to figure out where these "anonymous" cards were coming from (especially hard to do in a big city).
Of course if someone (every once in a while) reminded the newsgroup of the spammers address by posting a message (for informational purposes only, and not to encourage mail bombing), I don't see how that could be considered harassment ;-).
I am not a lawyer, and all of the above could be wrong. 80% of the Internet is bull... Free advice is worth every penny you paid for it :-).
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards for they are easily angered. This user wishes to remain anonymous because of job considerations.
E-Mail - [email protected] - Gandalf The White O-
WWW Page - http://digital.net/~gandalf/
WWW Trace E-Mail forgery - http://digital.net/~gandalf/spamfaq.html