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Trapped Between Abusers and Accusers. It's a Spam Sandwich!

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Author: Mike Banks Valentine

This week was dominated by SPAM issues for me. I alternatebetween stunned and complacent over SPAM I receive each day.One day my delete-key-trigger-finger works in rapid bursts toclear the inbox. The next day brings a new barrage and I fumeas the HTML SPAM emails launch web browser windows automaticallythat can't be closed without opening more windows.

Each time Java is launched while I'm reviewing my mail, I almostexplode in anger as there is literally nothing I can do to stopit until it loads the email, pops up a browser window and I canfinally begin to close the rapid fire group of popup windowsattempting to show hardcore porn or the latest body enhancingpills.

A news headline caught my eye the same day about a Scottsdale,Arizona based company that was closed down by the state attorneygeneral for fraud, using spam to gain customers. C.P. Direct, acompany selling penis, breast and even HEIGHT enhancing pillswas shuttered and assets seized. Apparently there are way toomany men without common sense who purchased those "Longitude"pills and then convinced their significant-others to buy thepills offering fuller breasts. It saddens me especially thosewho fell for the pills to make you taller. But it seems to paywell to sell snake oil.

"Among the items seized were luxury cars, including a Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Bentley, $20 million in bank accounts, $3 million in cash and a bounty of luxury jewelry, according to a list of the items. Company officials could not be reached for comment. The initial cost of the pills was $59.99, plus shipping and handling for a month's supply and $39.99 a month thereafter. Records showed the pills cost $2.50 per bottle to manufacture. The company also allegedly sold pills that supposedly guaranteed height increases and bigger breasts, officials said."

http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=search&StoryID=1030199

As a list moderator for multiple lists and a host of severalnewsletters, I have plenty of email to deal with on a routinebasis. The time lost to SPAM is just too valuable to give upany more. I see this as a privacy issue as well. Those emailaddresses harvested from my site by spammers (about a dozendifferent special purpose addresses) are then resold toso-called legitimate marketers that actually remove me fromtheir lists when I ask, but the spammers sell the harvestedaddresses over and over again. I even get spam sent to myI-Privacy list address that were harvested by spambots.

I encoded many of the email links on my site with UNICODEsymbols in an attempt to foil the harvesting software and thenimmediately got a note from someone doing spamming in an attemptto end spam (!!!) who offered a tool to encode my emails withUNICODE! It must be a joke site because their links don't workand the spam sent encouraging me to go encode my emails actuallyshowed my address in UNICODE BEFORE their enocoding! For thoseof you that haven't used this little trick it's detailed in anarticle (along with a dozen other articles on spam issues) at:

http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spambot_unicode.html

I also recommend two others, one that details a list ofanti-spam techniques and a second that lists resources to fightspam.

http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spam_fighting.htmlhttp://website101.com/SpamFilter/spamfilter.html

I finally decided I'd had enough of it and signed up for a paidservice that cleans my emailbox every twenty minutes and removesthe latest load of stupid promotions -- before I retrieve mymail. It is such a valuable service and worked so well for methat I've begun reselling that service from my site. A freetrial is available.

OK, well, now I can rest easy, right? NO! Now I'VE been ACCUSEDof spamming and complaints have been registered with SpamCop! Ihost a daily horoscope list with about 4500 subscribers that isvery popular. I get notes (to the astrologer, Brandi Jasmine)regularly raving about how much they enjoy the daily list.Someone was apparently subscribed by a friend or relativewithout their permission and they sent nasty notes (anonymouslythrough SpamCop) screeching at me to stop spamming them! Detailsand full story are available at the following address:

http://website101.com/SpamFilter/spamcop_vigilanties.html

I think SPAM will be the death of me. I'm so tired of fightingit, writing about it and being accused of it myself! I've doneall I can to require double opt-in to all my lists. But I'm alist publisher of sorts online and either must learn to livewith the issue or quit. I won't quit -- but sometimes it sureis tempting. Less tolerant souls could end up "going Postal."The problem is that the only thing I can damage in my rage wouldbe my own computer.

Spammers drive Ferrari's while driving us all nuts. Go figure.

About the Author

Mike Banks ValentineI-Privacy Discussion ListProtecting Privacy is Good for Businesshttp://www.adventive.com/lists/iprivacy/summary.htmlSUBSCRIBE: mailto:i-privacy-join-request@list.adventive.com

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