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Spammers Exposed - How they get your address
So, there are many of you wondering, "How do the spammers get my address?"
The spams will tell you many different things: that you opted in for spam, that you were specially selected to win a contest, that your name is kept in some Nigerian Chamber of Commerce somewhere.
However, there are generally two ways the spammers get your address.
The first, and most common way, is through spiders and robots. There are companies out there who use automated software called "spiders" and "robots" to scour the web looking for e-mail addresses, generally looking for an "@" symbol. So, if on a web page you post your e-mail address, chances are that a robot will collect it and add it to a growing list of e-mail addresses. Then, this company turns around and sells this list to spammers who then send you lots of e-mail.
So, for example, I am going to post the address firstname.lastname@example.org on my page. It doesn't go anywhere. However, a robot won't know that. It won't even see what I am saying. It just looks at the "@" symbol and will add this to the list. How quick does it work? A friend of mine posted one of my private e-mail addresses on his web site for only one day. I continue to get about 10 spams a day at that address.
Now, the other trick that goes along with it is the "click here to be removed." More than likely, you are just confirming that the e-mail address is valid so that you will receive MORE spam. No matter how legitimate the company may be, I prefer to use a different approach and report the spam to the ISP. It's the only way to be sure.
Now, the other low-tech method of gathering e-mail addresses is one that is preferred by many of the perpetrators of the Nigerian 419 scam. They simply look for e-mail addresses and guest books that might have names and addresses that they could use in their scam spams.
Every time someone uses a search engine to come to my site, such as Google, I get a log of what search parameters were used to locate my page. Here is one example of search parameters from last November:
A lookup of the IP address confirmed that the search was conducted by someone in the Abidjan, Ivory Coast. But, that isn't all: I get lots of these each month. Here is the entire list for November:
2002 e mail guest book of investor in saudi arabia 2002 e-mail address of chemical companies in somalia and guestbook 2002 email address of house of assembly in nigerian 2002 email addresses of all building contractors in saudi arabia 2002 email addresses of auditor and doctors in u s 2002 email addresses of companies in lebanon and guest books 2002 email addresses yugoslavia companies that dealing in air cargo 2002 email contact addresses and guest book contact of all oil 2002 email contact addresses of muslims executive directors in japan 2002 email contacts of dug directors in south america 2002 guest book and email address in any oil company in djibouti 2002 guest book with email addresses of paper company in malaysia 2002 updated guest book of contractors in bosnia 2003 email old groups international business woman alaska email address and guest book of international business men in malaysia email address lome businessman email addresses of cosmetic producers in china 2002 email addresses of oil company owners in saudi arabia email adress of private loan companies email contacts directors in l b corporation in usa 2002 emails addresses of managers of oil companies in libya looking for chief executives directors email addresses in denmark oil companies guest book and e-mail addresses in indonesia 2002 rivers site millionaire women email addresses guest book 2002 2002 contact email address alpha guest book in saudi 2002 email addresses of nose hospital in israel 2002 contractors email addresses and guest book in korea and iran 2002 email address climbers in usa guest book 2002 email addresses of multi national company directors in morocco 2002 email classified addresses of producing companies in yemen 2002/2002 email addresses of malaysia top men 2003 email address of crude oil contractor in american email addresses of contractors in kuwait for 2002 only email contact addresses of football club fans in europe 2002 email guest book for managers in indonesia email guest book of coconut producer in 2002 looking for petroleum directors email addresses in europe 2002 search for 2002 /2003 contact email addresses of nigeria petrol
A subsequent look-up of these IP addresses showed that they originated in central Africa and the Middle East. The bulk of these seem to originate in Lagos, Nigeria. I can only assume that it where they get some target addresses as well as actual legitimate names of oil executives that they can use in their scams.
Next: How they mail their spam...