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Spam Your Rights Online

FTC Goes After Spammers 166

Posted by timothy
from the not-enough-iron-in-that-velvet-glove dept.
klaun writes: "Yahoo has an article about the FTC launching a crackdown on deceptive unsolicited email. Basically they are after scammers offering easy money quick, not the average 'get porn here' type of spam. There is more info at the in a press release at the FTC's website." TheGreatGraySkwid amplifies, saying that this story "tells of an FTC crackdown on Spammers, that had resulted in charges (settled) against 7 chain-letter ring spammers, and several pending cases. I know I could use some Spam relief..." The settlement, unfortunately, isn't exactly stern stuff: the seven spammers "agreed to refrain from participating in deceptive schemes in the future, or lying about the legality or potential earnings from any such schemes."
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FTC Goes After Spammers

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  • For the lazy (Score:3, Informative)

    by NewbieSpaz (172080) <nofx_punkguy.linuxmail@org> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:36PM (#2996365) Homepage
    FTC Launches 'Spam' E-Mail Crackdown
    By Andy Sullivan

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal regulators kicked off a crackdown on the junk e-mail known as ``spam'' on Tuesday with an announcement that they had settled charges against seven people accused of running an e-mail pyramid scheme.

    The Federal Trade Commission said that the seven defendants had participated in a chain-letter scam that promised returns of up to $46,000 for a $5 payment. Such chain letters are illegal in the U.S.

    The chain letter eventually drew in more than 2,000 participants from nearly 60 countries, the FTC said.

    While the consumer-protection agency has targeted some 200 Internet-based scams over the past several years, it has not until now gone after spam.

    FTC Chairman Timothy Muris said the agency now had e-mail scams in its sights.

    ``We're going after deceptive spam and the people who send it. We want it off the Net,'' Muris said at a press conference.

    The agency plans to settle several more cases within six months, said Eileen Harrington, the FTC's assistant director of marketing practices.

    Spam has long been a hot-button issue for Internet users, who often find their inboxes clogged with unsolicited offers for pornography, fake diplomas, and get-rich-quick schemes.

    Internet users received an average of 571 pieces of unsolicited commercial e-mail in 2001, a number expected to rise to nearly 1,500 by 2006, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

    Nineteen states have passed anti-spam laws, but attempts to pass a national law have stumbled over opposition from direct marketers who say their activities would be unfairly limited.

    FTC officials said they will go after spam using existing laws that prohibit false or deceptive trade practices.

    In addition to chain letters, pyramid schemes and other scams, the agency will target spammers who use deceptive return addresses or do not respond to consumer requests to be taken off their contact lists, said Howard Beales, head of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.

    Spammers are not likely to face jail time or large fines from FTC actions. In deceptive-trade cases, the agency can usually only force companies to give back profits and pursue ''structural'' remedies that modify future behavior.

    The seven spammers, who had been sent letters of warning by the FTC in September 2000, agreed to refrain from participating in deceptive schemes in the future, or lying about the legality or potential earnings from any such schemes. In addition, the defendants must return any money they take in from the chain letter in the future, can not share their lists of recruits, and must submit to FTC oversight of their actions.

    Some 2,000 other participants in the chain letter received a warning letter from the consumer-protection agency.

    While the FTC is preparing a national ``do not call'' list for telemarketers, a ``do not spam'' list would probably not be effective, Harrington said.

    Harrington said Web users should forward spam to the FTC for analysis, using the e-mail address uce+ftc.gov. The agency has amassed a database of 8.5 million spam messages, and takes in an additional 10,000 per day, she said.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If there was any justice in the world, they'd be getting ass-raped with splintered broomhandles for the next fifteen years.
    • I don't care what anybody says.

      Nuclear weapons are an overreaction to spam.

      Well, usually, anyway.
    • > If there was any justice in the world, they'd be getting ass-raped with splintered broomhandles for the next fifteen years.

      They get an email address, which is in the From: header of a posting to USENET in alt.sex.aluminum.baseball.bat of the spammer receiving his daily punishment.

      The warden mails each spammer daily. All the spammer has to do to stop the day's splintered-broomhandle-assraping is to reply to the message.

      Hey, the spammer can "just hit delete" on all the spam, right? If the spammer misses the warden's email in the piles of spam, that's just too damn bad.

  • by geek00 (260622) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:38PM (#2996372)
    I think these senators don't comprehend the reality with spam; that is, 99% of it has false origin information and has an opt-out scheme that doesn't work or only results in more spam.

    However, I don't believe in making laws against spam. They'll always be outdated and interfere with legimate uses of email, since it can be very hard to define exactly what is spam. (Someone taking my address from a newsgroup posting and trying to sell me printer toner is spamming, but how about an email from a company I bought something from a year ago?)

    Adam Back [cypherspace.org] has an interesting proposal called Hash Cash [cypherspace.org]. The idea is that if you want to send me an email, you have to burn some CPU cycles to compute a partial hash collision. I choose how many bits are required. Friends and family can send me email for free. I'll charge a few bits for the store I shooped at last week, and even more for people I don't know. If you're in ORBS or MAPS, perhaps I'll charge even more.
    • personally, I differentiate between different types of spam. Email I get from places like ebay, amazon, etc I dont consider spam because I know they got my address directly from me, and I can opt-out and that they will honor the request. I consider spam to be email from people that harvest addresses from usenet and other websites, spoof email addresses, dont respond to opt-out requests, etc. If you follow my definitions, lawmakers might be able to catch on to what the problem of spam is.

      (Note: I dont actually get email from ebay and amazon because I have unchecked those boxes when I registered myself. I just used them as examples of reputable companies)
      • But ebay and amazon AREN'T spam. Those are opt-in lists. They also honor opt-out lists. If ebay and amazon sold their contact list, ignoring any opt-out lists, THEN they are contributing to spam, if not nessacaraly sending it themselves. I have some bunk email addresses that I have for public use, and some specific email addresses for mailing lists, and 2 or 3 for private use. I can determine where the spam is comming from based on that, and assist the mailing lists with tracking down the culprit. OR I can just set up a new email address, and change my subscribe address. I have had 2 or more email address for quite a while, at least one for public (email lists, slashdot, contact for e-stores) and one private (personal friends, etc).
    • Interesting but completely impractical. With the wide variety of machines and architectures out there everyone would get a different "price". But still interesting.
    • I think these senators don't comprehend the reality with spam; that is, 99% of it has false origin information and has an opt-out scheme that doesn't work or only results in more spam.

      What are you basing this 99% on?

      • I would base the 99% on the fact that of the 100 or so e-mails I get in a week (about 15-20 a day), only one or maybe two of them are valid e-mails I actually wanted.
        • I would base the 99% on the fact that of the 100 or so e-mails I get in a week (about 15-20 a day), only one or maybe two of them are valid e-mails I actually wanted.
          You referred to the percentage which had deceptive opt-out schemes in your original post, not the percentage of your mail that was unsolicited. If the opt-out schemes were provably fraudulent, it would fuel more broad scale anti-spam legislation.

          If you (or anyone else) has proof that a large percentage of messages have fraudulent opt-out mechanisms, please share it with slash as well as your state representative. I believe what you originally claimed to be largely true, but I suspect we both have nothing better than a hunch, and so shouldn't be stating it as fact if we want to be taken seriously.

    • by EisPick (29965) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:51PM (#2996469)
      I think these senators don't comprehend the reality with spam

      I think there's a glass houses problem here. Someone who makes no effort to understand how government works has no room to say others "don't comprehend the reality ...."
      Neither senators nor new laws are mentioned in this article. This article is about the FTC -- an agency within the executive branch -- applying existing law to spammers.

      The FTC is applying the same laws that prohibit mail fraud and phone fraud to email fraud. They're not prosecuting spammers, they're prosecuting people who engage in false or deceptive trade practices, regarless of the medium of communication they use.
      • The point, though, is that it will end up being a legislative issue because the politicos will want to boast, and that's where the techies (that's us) need to influence them. if we decide on 1 plan (such as the hash plan) we can probably mobilize a campaign to get it through, but if we spend time bickering, nothing useful gets done, ever.

        We have power, but we don't use it. The people who matter, who are called in as technical advisors to the people who make decisions, sometimes read these forums or even participate and look for agreement on a possible solution, or useful ideas on this type of discussion.

        My question is: Do we really have anything really worth listening to?
    • I like the notion of a technical solution to the problem that doesn't rely on simply filtering falsified origins-- since that would eliminate a lot of virtually hosted domains. But another easily implemented technical idea would be to filter all mail based on three criteria: 1) belongs to an allowed list of from addresses (i.e. opt-in lists, friends, family, etc), 2) email contains a valid GnuPG/PGP signature from a key posted to one or more central keyservers, 3) email is encrypted using *my* public key.
    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:10PM (#2996578)
      I don't think laws against spam will succeed in having a preventative effect on the behavior, but perhaps they could have a punitive effect. Most laws are already like this--just because the laws say that you're not supposed to kill people, drive over the speed limit, doesn't mean you won't be able to do those things. But if you do, and you get caught, you're going to have hell to pay.

      Cypherspace.org seems to be /.ed so I can't read the Hash Cash proposal itself, so I'm going based on your summary of it.

      The problems I see with such a system:
      1. Requires two-way communication between sender and recipient to establish a one-directional message transfer. Potentially could waste more bandwidth than blindly sending out spam does today.
      2. Requires end-users to set up "scorefiles" to dictate how much they trust every sender in the world. At best, provides users with no more functionality than existing score-based mail filters/readers.
      3. Ties senders' ability to get their message out to the CPU power of their machine. Owners of dual-10GHz Pentathlon systems should not have a louder voice than the hobbyist running sendmail on an old 286.
      4. Spammers HAVE CPU cycles to burn--like most of us, their machines rarely run anywhere near 100% load. They will learn to send out their garbage in a slow,steady stream rather than in huge batches so that their machines can handle it--simultaneously making bulk-mailing harder to identify.
      • 1. Requires two-way communication between sender and recipient to establish a one-directional message transfer.

        On a low level (i.e. the protocol level, which is where I imagine a hash challenge/compute exchange would be implemented), it is *already* a requirement that two-way communication occur. This is because mail protocols use more than UDP; they use guaranteed delivery (where the "guarantee" is not actual delivery but an error code if the delivery fails).

        2. Requires end-users to set up "scorefiles" to dictate how much they trust every sender in the world.

        A bit of hyperbole in the above statement. It doesn't require every sender in the world. There are large categories possible, and a catch-all "untrusted so charge 'em maximally" category for non-specifieds. And I imagine people/admins who didn't want this could just turn it off.

        3. Ties senders' ability to get their message out to the CPU power of their machine. Owners of dual-10GHz Pentathlon systems should not have a louder voice than the hobbyist running sendmail on an old 286.

        Yes, but this will only become important to the owner of a 286 if he/she is trying to send so many emails that the machine is occupied fulltime with hashcode computations. I think even a 286 can keep up with the needs of a non-spammer. As you note below, most machines don't run even near 100% load.

        4. Spammers HAVE CPU cycles to burn--like most of us, their machines rarely run anywhere near 100% load. They will learn to send out their garbage in a slow,steady stream rather than in huge batches so that their machines can handle it--simultaneously making bulk-mailing harder to identify.

        For my part, I and my filters have always identified bulk emails by factors other than any headers' indication of how many recipients the message was targeted at.

        ---

    • I don't have time to look for the link, but california anti-spam law has a great definition of spam.
    • is here [google.com]
    • Did you read the article? The measures being taken are against:

      1) pyramid schemes and such 2) (and this is the important one) forged headers.

      This is a good thing. Yes, technical means *should* be taken against unsolicited mail. That other crap has absolutely no business coming to me, however, and in real life would be prosecuted.

    • All we need is for existing law to be applied (or maybe extended) to spammers. i.e. theft of services, fraud / false pretense, etc.
    • People: Stoping spam by changing email standards WON'T WORK.

      First, it will take YEARS to implement any new standard. If you don't believe me, look at IPv6!

      Second, any scheme based on charging per email no matter WHAT the details of this scheme is NOT THE ANSWER. It totally hoses things like mailing lists, SMS, autoresponders, email based applications (send an email command, cause something to happen), kiosk email, etc., etc., etc.

      Third, (stupid HashCash), how the hell do you hand out a business cards with your email on it and expect people to be able to communicate with you without jumping through hoops.

      Bottom line is that SPAM is NOT a TECHNICAL PROBLEM. It's a SOCIAL PROBLEM, like murder, rape, theft, hate crimes, drugs, etc. The reason women don't get raped every time they walk out the door is because we have set moral and legal standards in our society. We need to set those same standards for spam.

      No matter WHAT technical barriers you set up, you either make the system virtually unusable (whitelists, auto-responding password challenges,) impractical (hashcash, charging real money, etc.,) or impotent (spammers will find a way around filters...)

      Just like we have laws against theft, rape, and murder, we need laws against spam. Sure, we still have some cases of rape, murder, and theft, but I would MUCH rather have a couple spams per year (that I may be able to recover $$$ damages on) than to have a police-state driven, hostile, and unusable email system. These "technological whiz-kid" solutions will screw us all rather than just screwing the spammers.

      Think about it.
  • by L-Wave (515413)
    I think the names of spammers should be released to the public...or at least thier personal email addresses, this way we can retailiate =)
    • atleast the spammers that have been charged/convicted are released (well available) in the USA. with a little effort you can find those 7 people the FCC is smacking down
    • Here you go: (Score:5, Informative)

      by mrroot (543673) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:51PM (#2996473)
      Defendants in the FTC cases are: Paul K. Boivin, also known as Paul Bowen, Paul Boevien, Paul Bowvien, and Paul Brown; doing business as (DBA) Destiny 1999, Destiny 2000, and Destiny 2001. The defendant is based in Clearwater, Florida and the case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. Chad Estenson and Megan Estenson, DBA CMJ Enterprises and Rockin' E Marketing. The defendants are based in Warwick, North Dakota, and the case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota. Fernando Pacheco, also known as Frank Pacheco, DBA E-Solutions and E-Solutions 101. The defendant is based in North Providence, Rhode Island and the case was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Arnold W. Larsen, also known as Arnold Larson. The defendant is based in Sarasota, Florida, and the case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. John Lutheran. The defendant is based in San Diego, California. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Dario Va. The defendant is based in Weston, Florida. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
  • by crumbz (41803) <<remove_spam>jus ... CKWARE>gmail.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:41PM (#2996395) Homepage
    I had a fax spammer hit our Chicago office about a dozen times last fall. They were a discount travel brokerage out of Baltimore, MD. Despite repeated attempts to get them to stop, we had to resort to a cease and desist letter from our attorneys to stop them. Previous calls to them generated abusive language and hang-ups. Sent emails to the contacts at the FTC with no response. None.

    Maybe they will actually fund and staff the elctronic incident center, but I doubt it. If they won't deal with spammers in the U.S. what is the chance that they will contact overseas abusers?

    My two cents.
    • At least with Fax spam you can find out who it is from easy enough by their phone #.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The FTC doesn't represent individual complainants in the way you would expect them to. There needs to be a FEDERAL case and as such this usually only happens with a substantial number of complaints across numerous states.


      Additionally if you check here [ftc.gov] you'll notice that there isn't an e-mail channel for complaints; only telephone, fax, US mail and web [ftc.gov].

      • > The FTC doesn't represent individual complainants in the way you would expect them to. There needs to be a FEDERAL case and as such this usually only happens with a substantial number of complaints across numerous states.

        Then why not Alan Ralsky [spamhaus.org].

        This pigfucker (my apologies for the insult to those of you who fuck pigs) has been going non-stop since 1997.

        Typical modus operandi used to be dozens of dialups on sprint, uu.net, and dialinx (Genuity) in the Michigan area, and recent modus operandi has been to spam from dozens of dialups on att.net, uu.net, and Broadwing, in Dallas-Ft. Worth. (He may continue to reside in Michigan, dialing long-distance, or he may have moved to DFW. I dunno.)

        But with a track record of spam several light years long, what appear to be prior convictions for bank fraud [spamhaus.org], involvement in (if not actual profit from) an operation to spam for beastiality pr0n [google.com], and continued spam for health products of questionable efficacy (e.g. his BerryTrim operation), what the fuck is the FTC waiting for?

        More to the point, why the fuck is the FTC going after these two-bit chickenshit make-money-fast-fools, when they could be going after the big guns.

        FTC: You reading this? You really wanna put a dent in spam? Take this bastard down. HARD.. NOW.

    • Fax spam is dealt with by your state Attorney General. Look up the law that outlines computer generated fax spams.
    • Easy solution to fax spammers... Find out their fax number, caller id or whatever and start faxing them black pages. If they continue to spam you, make it hurt by tieing up their machine and killing their ink. If they try to call you and complain, just say you were interested in their spam, but just cant figure out that darn fax machine thing...
  • Now only (Score:1, Funny)

    by headchimp (524692)
    if they would go after the troll posts around these parts.
  • by ekrout (139379) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:41PM (#2996399) Journal
    Basically they are [going] after scammers offering easy money quick, not the average 'get porn here' type of spam.

    I personally feel that the porm spam can be just as deceptive as the EZ $$$ NOW! scams.

    I mean, let's be honest -- I'm sure we've all received dozens and dozens of emails saying that someone's site has a ton of free pics and videos of the hottest girls. But generally that's a blatant lie, and the lewd site is a reseller of explicit pornography. They simply tell a fib to get you to click on over to their site, which upon being rendered throws a half-dozen pop-up windows on the desktop.

    Let's aim higher rather than just taking out the con artists alone.

    Listen To My Latest Recording @ EricKrout.com [erickrout.com]
    • Just becaust the picture aren't what you expect, there still there.
      Porn sites ads are almost alway technically true.
      Free for three days is still free.
      now what I want to see is the ability to turn off automatic pop-ups and redirects.

      the problem with saying "Spammer must be stopped" is the fact that different typs of spammer may violate different law.
      Get rich quick spammers are different then un wanted e-mail spam, which would be protected differently then religous or political emails.
      • the problem with saying "Spammer must be stopped" is the fact that different typs of spammer may violate different law.

        The easy way to stop them is create a non spam law, then they all break the same law.

    • by jesser (77961)
      They simply tell a fib to get you to click on over to their site, which upon being rendered throws a half-dozen pop-up windows on the desktop. Let's aim higher rather than just taking out the con artists alone.

      The FTC has gone after [idg.net] "trap" sites -- sites with extremely high numbers of pop-ups, or "hydra" ads. In that case, the domain names were misspellings of other popular domains, but I don't think it's a huge leap from misspelled domain names to misleading spam with forged headers.

      I'd also like to see the FTC sue advertisers on both porn and non-porn sites that make their banner ads look like browser dialogs windows.
  • I'll believe it... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Heem (448667) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:41PM (#2996401) Homepage Journal
    I'll believe it when my junk email is reduced by even 1% over the course of a month. Even without engaging in 'spam-risky' internet behaviour, ie - using real email address on newsgroups, web boards, signing up for free porn etc, I get a very large load of spam daily. One program that has been great is Mailwasher [mailwasher.net]. This little utility allows you to bounce, blacklist and delete your spam before you download the actual message from your server. I then monthly take the blacklist it generates and add the email address or sometimes a whole domain to my email servers reject file... But still spammers get craftier and craftier. If only I could make a filter that would filter out anything like 12k3jhk213 and asdfl231.. hmm..

    • Then you won't get any e-mail from your non-geek friends who use AOL...
    • by smnolde (209197)
      Don't forget spamassassin [taint.org]. I installed this yesterday and it has caught every bit of spam entering my mail server from all sorts of mailing lists.

      Configuration is simple and straight forward and it integrates nicely with any email system. Personally I'm using exim to pipe all received email through spamc/spamd and then the mail is received by exim after the spam check. There is only one check for spam per email entering my system.

      Spamassassin only flags the email as spam, but it's up to the MUA to actually delete it.

      This is log output from exim+SA: 2002-02-12 17:21:35 From: Subject: *****SPAM***** save money for dank X-Spam-Status: Yes, hits=14.1 required=5.0 tests=NO_REAL_NAME, FROM_ENDS_IN_NUMS, INVALID_DATE_NO_TZ, REPLY_REMOVE_SUBJECT, EXCUSE_3,REMOVE_SUBJ, TO_BE_REMOVED_REPLY, SUPERLONG_LINE, FREQ_SPAM_PHRASE, FORGED_YAHOO_RCVD version=2.01 Sender: owner-freebsd-questions@freebsd.org

      I'll soon move all my email users' to email filtered by spamassassin. This is just too damn simple.

  • Freedom! (Score:3, Funny)

    by SirSlud (67381) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:42PM (#2996402) Homepage
    > agreed to refrain from participating in deceptive schemes in the future, or lying about the legality or potential earnings from any such schemes

    ... in fact, they were encouraged to visit an FTC hyperlink where they could enter their email addresses opt-out of receiving any warnings or punishments in the future. ;)
  • by tsmit (222375) <(tsmit50) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:42PM (#2996403) Homepage
    Just got a spam message today that was in the format of a returned mail message. Even from Mail Delivery Subsystem. The attachment was an ad for pr0n.

    I hate spam as much as the next guy, but, damnit, that's almost ingenious.
    • I assumed that me email address had been used BY the spammer as a fake "From:" address.

      That worried me more than actual spam. I'd hate to get falsely accused of sending out "HOT SCHOOLGIRL, GOAT, AND LHAPSO-APSO ACTION!" messages.

    • Are you sure it wasn't a real bounce generated by someone sending out porn spam with your email address forged as the return address? I have unfortunately had that happen to me before.
    • Ingenious? My guess is that someone has been using your address as a reply-to for sending spam, and the message you got was the first undeliverable.. Guess that tsmit addy was getting old anyway.
    • by kindbud (90044) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:22PM (#2996642) Homepage
      Yes, you can use the Microsoft.com mail servers for this purpose. In fact, you can use any Exchange server for this purpose. They all accept mail before determining whether it can be delivered, have no capability to block recipients, and generate a new messages for the bounce, with the original attached. Perfect for all your spamming needs:


      mail from:<targets@address.com>
      200 ok
      rcpt to:<nosuchmailbox@microsoft.com>
      200 ok
      data
      Subject: pr0n served fresh daily

      .
      250 ok
      • They all accept mail before determining whether it can be delivered

        You forgot to add the "by default". It is possible to set up an exchange system so that it will not relay and will send a 550 back after looking at the RCPT TO: line.

  • Slap on the Wrist (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:42PM (#2996406) Homepage
    This is just a slap on the wrist for spammers. What they need to do is impose a per-email fine per recorded spam from a particular company, and if the violations keep stacking up, blacklist them from ISPs or start posting names/addresses of the spammers involved. All of those would be good. Ruin their reputation even more, take away most of their earnings, and make it damn hard for them to get decent internet access again. And if they do get internet access, it should be monitored for large amounts of outgoing mail. Maybe a per-day quota could be set up for the spammer.
    • Re:Slap on the Wrist (Score:5, Informative)

      by Misch (158807) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:57PM (#2996506) Homepage

      Actually, we do have something very similar (sans fines), it's called Spamhaus [spamhaus.org]. It collects evidence of spamming by companies, finds those companies that own those netblocks, and lists the top spam-friendly hosts in the ISP business.

      Sitting at the top of the list is media3, which hosts 5 known spammers has known about them for at least 2,163 operational days (operational days for all 5 spam sources), and acts covertly to support them. Their "score" is thus listed as 5*2163*4 = 42,720, nearly 8 times more than the closest spammers. If you want your spam to decrease significantly, you gotta take out those spammers at the top right at their source.

      -Misch

    • This is just a slap on the wrist for Napster/Morpheus/[Insert P2P program here] users. What they need to do is impose a per download fine per copyright infrigement from a particular P2P user, and if the violations keep stacking up, blacklist them from ISPs or start posting names/addresses of the downloaders involved. All of those would be good. Ruin their reputation even more, take away most of the music/pictures/movies that isn't theirs, and make it damn hard for them to get decent internet access again. And if they do get internet access, it should be monitored for large amounts of incoming and outgoing traffic on the ports used by P2P programs. Maybe a per-day quota could be set up for the file sharer.

      You can't have your cake and eat it too. Either the Internet is regulated or it is not. You can't ask the FTC to penalize and enforce the law on spammers when in the next breathe, you ask the government NOT to penalize and enforce the law on intellectual property/copyright.

      You feel this way because someone is breaking a law designed to protect you, so you feel violated. Now, the innocent little P2P users may not be hurting you, but they are certainly infringing on laws designed to protect someone else.

      Your logic is a great example of the selfish me-me-me whining prevalent in a majority of slashdot posters. Pirated software, MP3s, movies, etc are good because they benefit me!! Don't enforce the laws against this!! Spam is bad because although someone else is getting a free-ride, I am not. Enforce the laws against this!!

      Now, I'm not saying by any means that P2P users are evil or should be prosecuted. I just think that before people run around asking for any statutory regulation of the net, they need to think about the flipside of the situation as well. Do you want the net regulated or don't you? You can't have the both and allowing any sort of regulation and enforcement (i.e. spam) only leads the government to further believe that the net should be regulated and all laws fully enforced.

      Just my two pennies...

  • Most of the pr0n spam I get seems to be deceptive too. Grabbing one from my spam box, I find "Wanna See Britney Spear's Teenage Pussy getting fingered by an OLDER Fan??? ". I've not been there, but I'm 99.99% sure, that's not what I'm going to find there.
  • "Internet users received an average of 571 pieces of unsolicited commercial e-mail in 2001" so there are several hundred folks out there that get absolutely no spam at all to account for the 10,000 or so pieces I get a year...
  • Crackdowns on spam have been largely unsuccessful, partly because they pit concerns about privacy against free-speech issues. In addition, although many states have adopted anti-spam measures, spammers have argued that there is usually no way for them to know an e-mail recipient lives in a certain state where some types of junk e-mail are illegal.

    • Here's a decent article [startribune.com] article about how, even when someone DOES successfully sue a spammer, trying to collect is pretty hopeless. (Not too surprising that spammers aren't exactly rolling in cash)...
    • Crackdowns on spam have been largely unsuccessful, partly because they pit concerns about privacy against free-speech issues.
      I agree with the counterargument that, while you have the right to free speech, you don't have the right to force people to listen. In this case, often enough, the spammers coerce through deception into reading their message. Of course, I personally delete anything from anybody I don't know, but even then there have been spoofs from within my company (email seemingly from someone from my company). That guy stole my time, and even the ones I don't read have stolen my time to delete and add them to filters. When we start to realize that time is more valuable then money, that's when these time theives will get the punishment they deserve.

      Frankly, telemarketers and spammers should be considered time thieves. I guarentee you that one of these guys, given six months to live, would want to waste their time with spam.

      In addition, although many states have adopted anti-spam measures, spammers have argued that there is usually no way for them to know an e-mail recipient lives in a certain state where some types of junk e-mail are illegal.
      That's why it should be illegal everywhere.
  • by eaddict (148006) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:44PM (#2996423)
    I wonder which Congress person got burned on the pyrmaid thing THEN screamed it was SPAM.
  • rfn had it earlier this morning, but hey ....

    I like the court briefs for the various spammers they have alreadfy acted against. And I also link them going after more than a thousand more. although it is more in the realm of real crime (chain letters, etc) vs just ordinary spam, what ever that is.

    don't forget to forward your spam with full headers to uce@ftv.gov.

    the only good spammer is a jailed spammer. although I would love a huge obscene fine to beat them with.

  • In the normal world, a cease and desist agreement with a federal agency is enough to get a person or organization to stop doing something. However, Microsoft had an agreement with the Justice Department not to break any more anti-trust laws and we can see how well that one got enforced. So I guess the precedent for the information processing industyr is set...

    sPh

  • by Ryu2 (89645) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:45PM (#2996436) Homepage Journal
    The Chinese government just ordered all ISPs in China to start monitoring
    email for subversive phrases and the like, so just reply to
    Chinese spam with little replies of the form at the end of this spam.
    Might be a useful tactic on companies who think that unsolicited
    email is "just regular advertising".

    Bill

    "Jack(export manager)" wrote:
    >
    > Dear Sir
    > How are you .
    >
    > We are a lighting factory in China ,It is glad
    > to introduce ourselves to you:
    >
    > I am XUBIN (Jack) , XUBIN is my chinese name , you can just
    > call me Jack !! , I am export manager of [deleted] ,
    > China, our group have four factory
    [snipped]
    >
    > Here is our company profile :
    >

    [Rest of sales talk snipped]

    (And now, the reply)

    Thank you for your coded order. The weapons and ammunition
    will ship by way of the usual route in ten days, and you
    already know our secret Swiss bank account number to
    wire the payment to.

    It is a pleasure doing business with you for so long,
    and I hope your cause will prevail. I am new to this
    particular computer, so I hope the encryption is
    working and the monitoring authorities cannot read
    what I am sending you.

    Long live the Falun Gong! Free Tibet!

    Best regards,
    Your arms supplier
    • Here's one we got from Korea:
      Attn: Mr.CEO, General Manager / To whom it may concern


      How are you doing Gentlepersons ?

      We came to have your esteemed company details from one of information
      services or internet web sites.

      We are pleased to introduce ourselves as a manufacturer ,converter and an
      international supplier of special , unique textile items related to
      such as blankets , throws ,comforters ,pillows and cushions and so forth.

      We are located in Seoul ,Republic of Korea.

      Taking this opportunity, we sincerely wish to have a chance to serve your
      esteemed company with our up-to-date material products for reciprocal benefits
      and prosperity.

      The following items are what we are presently supplying for our customrs
      and I believe you are also to be interested in one of the following items.

      1) pure acrylic mink blanket - 1 ply or 2 plies etc
      ( a variety of sizes,designs, styles , and weights )
      2) 100 % super-soft micro polyester blankets and throws ( 2 side velour style)
      ( made of ultra thin , soft and polymer modified raw material )
      3) 100 % high density down proof cotton fabric covered and micro gel fiber
      filled ( blow filled or pad quilted ), "natural shaped" orthopaedic pillows,
      comforters ,cushions etc.
      ( This is like that of 100 % goose down cluster filled products )
      4) The above 3 catagories with ' anti-bacterial , anti-fungal , anti-dust mite
      treated ' to give a hygienic concept to the products.
      As you know ,blanket is liable to be a hotbed of dust mites.

      We have been supplying the above items for some of our business partners
      in a few countries but not for your country, yet.

      We believe that our prices would be competitive or reasonable reflecting on
      the quality as our items quality is stable and 2nd to none.

      We sincerely hope to be able to build up and keep a long term business
      relationship with your esteemded company .

      Please feel free to contact us , once you need to know more detailed
      information on the above items and/or other related items which you have
      in mind.

      If you have got a mind to give us inquiries ,
      please be more specific about sizes, weight per size , quantity ,
      delivery and destination ports required etc details.

      Also if you have got any counter samples for our very firm offer ,
      it would be better to initiate our business fast .

      Look forward to hearing from you soonest.

      Best Regards ,
      [removed]
      Looks like they gave it the "babelfish + thesaurus" treatment :^)
  • Seems to me this is old news, I submitted the FTC spam crackdown announcement almost 2 weeks ago...
  • by mrroot (543673) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:48PM (#2996454)
    From the FTC press release:

    Chances are you will receive little or no money back on your "investment." Despite the claims, a chain letter will never make you rich.
    Speak for yourself. I made over $46,000 dollars in 90 days, and you can too! and it's totally legal. To learn how, just mail me $5.00.
  • by Twister002 (537605) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:50PM (#2996466) Homepage
    You can read it here [ftc.gov].

    My understanding is that they are going after the chain mail and pyramid schemes, not trying to shut down all the porn email (oooooh, hot girls waiting just for ME!!! WOW!!!) So it won't do anything about the deluge of unwanted email pouring into your inbox, just keep people that are dumb enough to answer the ads from hurting themselves. Like putting nerf corners on the world of email for them

    I would rather see some kind of legislation that holds spammers accountable if their "remove' methods do not work. I think a "do not call" type of list would be better than nothing. Filters don't always work, no matter how well you configure them. Maybe a new version of the SMTP protocol that would require a secure connection or authentication by you to be able to send you an email

    --insert comment to the effect of "what has slashdot come to posting this type of story
    --insert comment to the effect of "if you weren't such a loser you wouldn't get spam"
    --insert comment to the effect of "jane you ignorant slut that's not what it says at all"
    --insert comment to the effect of "this is all the fault of M$ and their monopolistic practices"

  • amazing (Score:3, Funny)

    by negativethirsty (555244) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @04:53PM (#2996480) Homepage
    Ok follow along, I'll go slowing for the gov't FTC workers... FTC: "you spammes are thieves and liers! Quit pulling these scams." spammer: "You are right, we are liers." FTC: "So does this mean you'll stop?" spammer: "Sure"
  • is posting / allowing to be posted an account from which I periodically 2-3 times a week send out responses to spam mail I receive to administrators etc who host these sites. I've seen several closed down due to my tracepath'ing, etc...

    If at least 10% of people gettting spam did this 2-3 times a week I gurantee that the people hosting these sites would quickly close up shop on these guys due to the amount of extra work involved. It would be the equivlent of a Slashdot mass-email bomb but would be legit.

    Actually it'd probably work with 2% of the receipients following up with the hosting companies.
  • My simple ten steps to bitchslap a spammer.
    1) look at the source
    2) find the domain of the sending server (nine times out of ten it's hotmail or yahoo in my case)
    3) select the spam and hit the forward button
    4) paste the entire message source along side the original
    5) send it to abuse@whateverdomain.com it came from.
    6) delete the message
    7) delete the reply from the isp when you get it
    8) there is not eight
    9) go back to what you were doing before
    10) ummm...er that's it.

    Not gurentied to work everytime, but it at least requires that they get a new mail account generally. With practice the whole process should take about 5 seconds per message, depending on your mail client. Of course you could just write a script, if you're lazy.

    Maskirovka

    My spilling sux. git uver et.
    • In many cases, the spam includes an URL where their Enlarge-Your-Penis-Breasts-And-Hairline scams are hosted, and generally it isn't hosted on the same ISP as the spam came from...

      In these cases, I like to traceroute to the server hosting the URL and cc the ISP that the spammer is hosting their scam on. Most ISP's have clauses in their acceptable use policy forbidding ANY spamming, even from other ISP's.

      The spammer may not care that his throwaway dial-up account gets canceled 5-times-per-week, but if their scam site goes down, there goes the whole purpose for sending the spam in the first place...

  • Personally, I don't think having the FTC involved will make any difference to the number of spam emails being sent and received.

    The only solution I can imagine is somehow preventing it at the receiving end, because of the number of mail servers (something like 5%, IIRC) that allow relaying. Till that becomes 0%, there won't be much relief there.

    Sadly, the chances of this happening are slim to none, since there is no registered emailing system, such that only emails from registered sources will be accepted, and all otheres routed to /dev/null. I don't see this happening in the future either.

    Also, the current options are relatively easy to circumvent. Most involve checking that your email is in the "To" field of the message header. Doesn't help much to people that already have your address, and insert it in there as part of the email. Not exactly a fortress of security there.

    It would be to hear some constructive solutions in this thread somewhere amongst the ways we would love to punish spammers.

    • The only solution I can imagine is somehow preventing it at the receiving end, because of the number of mail servers (something like 5%, IIRC) that allow relaying. Till that becomes 0%, there won't be much relief there.

      Actually it's considerably more. Since quite a bit of software requires a third party relay just about every ISP on the planet offers one by default. Including ISPs who offer "free trials" and no subscription based services.
  • by Chris Parrinello (1505) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:03PM (#2996541)
    I think the FTC needs to crack down on these so called "Nude Teen Cheerleader" websites. If they're nude, how do you know they're really cheerleaders?

    I am demanding that the FTC require (under penalty of large fines) that all nude teen cheerleaders be photographed with their high school ID showing their date of birth and their high school yearbook turned to the page where their cheerleading squad group picture is.

    I think if the web site says "cheerleader" and then the model was actually in the pom-pom or flag squad, the fines should be TREBLE.
  • by euphline (308359) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:08PM (#2996571)
    Washington, DC-- In a move likely prompted by the SEC's recent creation of fake investment scam sites, the FTC began a campaign today to send out masses of electronic mail (known as "spam") to millions of unsuspecting internet users. Apparently, the messages, with subjects such as "Get Rich Quick", "Work From Home", and "Hi, Joe" have quickly filled user's mailboxes. When a user clicks on the link, they are taken to a web site that, upon further inspection, attempts to educate the user about the fake get rich schemes.

    When a user clicks on the "unsubscribe" option, their email address is logged by the FTC. The FTC sends an autoreply indicating that using the "unsubscribe" option on spams is dangerous.

    -jbn

  • Yes Spammers and what not are pretty annoying but the real problem is the new JavaScript messages. Us g33ks find SPAM quite annoying but usually no more (it just takes a tap of a key to delete it). The real problem is to the non-l33t who have a windows machine that will cause JavaScripts to popup. That is "harmful" to their machine as the email can cause the computer to crash. What will the policy towards these people be? Methinks that they may be branded terrorists (while some of you may agree) but that is too harsh a title.

    A new policy MUST be drafted that outlines what the governments' (all of them) response will be to any email or computer threat. The main problem is that we need competent (computer competent) lawmakers, yet most lawmakers represent the average constitient and thus does not fully understand what new law/policy to make (thus branding many as terrorists).

    Perhaps the best solution is for us not to write letters but to report spammers as quickly as possible or inform the less informed on how to block unwanted email.
  • by gioan (263208) on Tuesday February 12, 2002 @05:40PM (#2996747)
    Wonderful. People committing clear financial fraud have to "play nice in the future." Oh great. I feel so much better. It's clear that uce@ftc.gov has less productive output than /dev/null.

    This isn't about free speech, or "corporate right to send me ads if I opt-in." Don't worry, those companies make sure they pay someone to remind your senators that their god-given-right to send you ads should be permitted. Too bad the rest of the spam won't really let you work part time from home making $10,000/month while watching a legal cable descrambler, happy with a clear credit record, a really large penis, limitless virility, instant weight loss on demand, and the occasional degree from a prestigious unaccredited school.

    There are two reasons spam continues. Welcome to economics:

    a) there's still no effective financial deterrent to sending spam, regardless of whether it's ambiguously relevant direct marketing, or utter fraud
    b) there is some financial benefit for the senders, regardless of amount

    There are plenty of other things you could debate...such as when did spam become accepted? Was it when you -- yes YOU! -- made the unconscious decision that "just deleting" the message is OK. You don't have the time to follow up on the headers. If you're in one of the states that actually ban it, you don't have the time to do something...hell it's not worth the effort. It's just an email, right?
    Think of this in another way: If random people each stole one cent out of your bank account every month, would you consider it worthwhile to pursue them? Would you want your bank to develop filters to block all small transactions? Would you think such a loss is unacceptable?

    Quite honestly, the actions of civil libertarians and "we'll fix this with technology" advocates has not helped. I filter, you filter, we all delete. Guess what, spammers will continue to find ways around filters, so long as conditions A & B hold true. And every online provider will continue to spend lots of money trying to stop this crap. And every user will continue to hit delete. And people will constantly change email addresses to avoid it, spam filters will continue to mislabel valid email as spam. Stop dealing with the symptoms, deal with the problem!

    This isn't a technology issue. You will never get every mail server, client, system, whatever to comply to a block-spam standard. Just look at how long it's taken to get even the basic don't-relay habits in place. This isn't a "but what if I want Amazon to send me my favorite buy-me-now specials." This is an issue that someone in power doesn't give enough of a damn to do something effective to create a financial deterrent that makes it preferrable for these people to steal your money some other way. And yes, unfortunately, we're talking legislation, otherwise you will not send a clear message or provide an effective deterrent. Inconsistency on this means ineffective.

    Wow, looking back I'm feeling sorry for the rant. It's simply that this kind of cluelessness annoys me. Time to go delete a couple more messages.

  • Basically they are after scammers offering easy money quick, not the average 'get porn here' type of spam

    so basically some ijit (such as a congress-critter) fell for this scam and got burned and threw the FTC on the case... right... gotcha.... waytago...

  • by Suppafly (179830)
    Nineteen states have passed anti-spam laws, but attempts to pass a national law have stumbled over opposition from direct marketers who say their activities would be unfairly limited.

    Why do we listen to the complaints of these direct marketers.. No where in the constitution, do it say you have the right to annoy the piss out of random people and force solicitations down their throats. There is no such thing as good direct marketing. We need to end this bs and outlaw spam at the federal level.

    I know on /. everytime something about spam comes up, people are quick to say that we shouldn't fight this with laws, we should fight it with technological means, but that obviously isn't working. I don't care how many people post procmail filters or whatever. Even if you filter it, your bandwidth is still wasted.

  • I must say that as a person who is responsible for email marketing, that we also need to be careful that any laws we pass aren't so vague that some of the get rich quick FROM spammers schemes don't start surfacing. I had one person (who actually claimed he was a Slashdotter and had previously posted his plan to stop spam at some point), who I found was trying to scam my company. He downloaded our software, provided a fake email address. When we marketed to him, he wouldn't opt out of the email list, would only autoreply with a message that said if you send us any emails, we will take you to court. If you reply to this email, we will take you to court. In the mean time, the word "fee" was his user name for his email account.

    I am all for not getting unwanted emails, but everyone is up in arms about spam, when I STILL get 5 pieces of junk snail mail a day. You know what I do with those, I throw them out. If you post your email address anywhere, you are leaving yourself open for spam. Just like by listing your address in the phone book, you are leaving yourself open for phone solicitation and junk snail mail. At a certain point, the anti spamming movement becomes similar to the recording industry's efforts to stop music sharing. Let's pass laws to punish people that can and will get twisted and actually prompt abuse that goes further than actual spam. Geesh! If you had to do anything more than hit delete to get rid of an unwanted email, I could see getting angry about it. Why don't you just use filters like I do?
  • The settlement, unfortunately, isn't exactly stern stuff: the seven spammers "agreed to refrain from participating in deceptive schemes in the future, or lying about the legality or potential earnings from any such schemes."
    Well, if a lame-ass non-punishment like that ("hey, you're guilty; just don't do that any more, okay?") is good enough for Microsoft, it's good enough for spammers, I guess.

    Sigh.

    -me
  • Mod this post up and then add your name to the thread. Three more people will mod you up and then post so that three more people can mod them up. If you get in on the ground floor of this breakthrough opportunity, you can soon be basking in karma bliss and not ever have to work for mod points again! Don't be a karma whore! Get your points the easy way! Just listen to some of the...
  • So, does the FTC have a place to forward unsolicited crap so it can be taken care of? It's about time, but they need to actually hold to their promise.
  • I signed up with AltaVista for free email, and after sending out four resumes, my account was shut down. I inquired and was told that I am a spammer. I complained and they didn't reply. I filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and did not receive replies from them either, which is very odd because I've gotten written responses in the past when complaining with the BBB. I must say something shady appears to be going on these days in security. Anyway, you are warned, AltaVista accused me wrongly.
  • Make it unprofitable. That is the only way to stop spamming.

    There is no need for a law - ISPs simply need to add a $10000 per incident "clean up fee" to their contract.

    Now, I've seen some folks here on /. say they work for ISPs that have done this, and that the spammers just refuse to pay. If the ISP charges the spammer's credit card, they dispute the charge and the credit card dings the ISP.

    Here's a possible solution to this. Since the spammer signed the contract agreeing to pay, then refusing to pay, along with the prima facia evidence that the spammer was planning on spamming all along should equal fraud, a criminal charge, right? And since the amount is over $1000, it is FELONY fraud, right? So, if the spammer disputes the charge, file fraud charges against them. Get a lein on their house, and hit them in civil court as well.

    Get one precident that a clean-up charge in the contract is permissible, and you can start costing those bastards.

    And as for all the spammers in fum buk tu, China - block those netblocks at the routers.
  • .. it's about enforcing existing laws against scams and con artists.

    It is ALREADY illegal to send out chain letters, pyramid schemes (frex most MLM), and suchlike. The METHOD by which such scams are promoted doesn't matter -- whether I stop you on the street and whisper it into your ear, or spam your inbox (snailmail or email), it is still illegal.

    The only difference here is that the FTC has finally noticed that spam is now the primary vehicle for promoting these scams, and has decided to pursue it.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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