Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Email Abuse

At the start of this year one of the many changes undertaken in regard to this blog was the introduction of a new email system. The old gmail account though still active has been replaced with a new self-managed system.

Things were running perfectly until the beginning of March when I received a spate of emails from various sites, indicating that I had signed up for what can be classed as junk mail. What concerned me is that the email address that supposedly had signed up for these things, is one that has never been published and the only way people will have seen it, is if I have emailed them. In other words, this is not something random.

Fortunately one of these emails had a safety measure and included the IP responsible for requesting the sign up, so I saved it and the others I'd received and carried on as normal.

At the end of the month a few more of these emails came through including another one that listed the IP. Now I could compare and sure enough, they both originated from the same IP. While I can't prove the origin of the other emails I had received, I knew that at least two were from the same source.

I decided to check where this IP was located and to my surprise discovered it was in Florida. Now part of me could not believe that someone is really that vindictive and petty but in checking with the IP address I'd saved when dealing with a certain photo thief, would you believe, the numbers were identical!

So if stealing photos and writing insulting and abusive emails weren't enough, they now have stooped to fraudulently using my email address to sign me up to spam.

So I wrote to the ISP, with the details and as I expected I never heard back from them but at least the spam stopped.

Flash forward to today, another 6 spam this morning and another 9 tonight and guess what another one has that security feature and yes it's coming from the same source.

I really don't know what goes through a person's head to behave in this manner - perhaps bullying is the way they usually handle things. I have news for them, I am not one to be bullied or harassed.


  1. AnonymousJuly 08, 2009

    Sounds like someone has too much time on their hands to do all of this. So sorry you're going through it and I hope that it stops permanently very soon. Is there anyone else or any place you can report this type of activity?


  2. Oh, not THIS guy again!?
    There must be somewhere you can file a complaint for harassment. Web policing is so difficult, but it's not impossible...

  3. A telephone call to this person's ISP might be in order. Get a Skype account so it's not really long distance (it'll cost you around 2p / minute, probably) and you can have a good heart-to-heart about them and this particular user. The fact is, he's violating their terms of service, in doing what he's doing. By using them as an ISP, to commit crimes (theft, stalking, harassment), he's putting them at risk of a suit, in particular if they don't shut him down.

    Take the person's name who's answering the phone, and get the ISP's postal mail address. Then send a registered letter (so that you can prove someone signed for it) to the ISP, mentioning the date of your conversation, the content of the conversation, and the fact that they have agreed to address the matter (or not). That way they'll know you're serious, and that you plan to take them to task for fixing this.

    It may only drive him underground, but it may be enough to frighten him into at least leaving you alone. It's a toss-up, really: he's likely bullying you at least in part because you're far away & can't fight back, or so he thinks.

    Best of luck, and do keep us posted!

  4. AnonymousJuly 08, 2009

    Sounds like a good plan, D.


  5. Every 24 hours or so, you'll receive a new IP from your ISP. Chances are very slim that you'll receive the same IP twice, let alone have the same IP all the time, mostly costly business accounts are able to have that feature. So the guy who stole your photos is most likely not sending you spam or signing you up for it. Although I must admit he seemed especially sinister.

    Florida is unfortunately the home of many spam "artists". I hate to say it but the best practice is to hide in the herd, so I'd get Gmail back up and running.

    Apart from that: I really enjoy reading your blog and try out new things, all the best from Berlin!

  6. Arno: Interesting, if true ... in particular because I think this practice may vary from place to place. I know that our ISP in California kept the IP addresses fairly static, in particular because most people were logging in through DSL-modem + router + DHCP server on the client side, which meant that the ISP would issue 1 address to the DSL-modem and that address would be in use except for cases such as power loss or the shutdown of the DSL-modem (very rare). Also, DHCP servers routinely issue the same address to previously know clients: they're programmed to do so.

    I would expect that, in the above type of configuration, my DSL-modem would maintain the same IP address for years on end - literally - and that isn't an uncommon setup.

    True - the "lease" on an IP address has to be renewed periodically - but it is untrue that this results in the issuance of a different IP address.

  7. Thanks for your support and Davi I have contacted abuse @ ISP and will see how that pans out.

    Arno - Fixed IP's are not uncommon, I have one, it doesn't cost any extra, perhaps in Berlin things are different. This email address was never published and has never received any spam until these incidents. Chance is not a factor as all my other unpublished addresses have never received any spam either. The emails with identifying IP's were received over a span of a few weeks, it seems unlikely that multiple people decided to attack an address that isn't published. Occams razor, the simplest answer is usually the correct answer.

  8. Yes in Europe/Berlin things are probably different, perhaps ISPs don't buy as many IPs as in the rest of the world, thus leading to less fixed IPs. (which would be more expensive for the North American/Australian ISPs) And since the ISPs don't want you to host any content, they'll resync your DSL modem every 24 hours, and you'll get a new IP, and with IPv4 addresses running out, chances are high that you'll get a completely different IP. Now within your network you'll get the same address, since it's highly unlikely that you'll use up the whole IP range of your router.

    I didn't want to appear too cocky, just tried to help out. Bad idea get in the way of someone's anger it seems.

    1. AJJB: He is not "angry" per say, he is being "abused" and "needled" with spam! He was very polite to you.

  9. Good grief! Wow, 3 years have gone by, and someone's picked the thread back up ... and it's as if they believe that the world hasn't moved on. C'mon, folks, this is an awesome food blog - let go of the tech idiocy!


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