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A Dispatch

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December 04, 2004

Identity Crisis

When a purely unsolicited spam message promoting "quality opt-in leads" comes over the transom, I wonder if anyone who buys this stuff does any due diligence. The message sports three different domains: one in the From: field; another as the domain to visit; yet another to unsubscribe. Whois records on two of them disguise their true identities behind one of the whois anonymizer services.

This particular mailing spamvertises a $29/month subscription, for which you'll receive each month a 100,000 record list of:

[i]ndividuals that have opted in to receive more information about starting a home based business. They are waiting to hear from you today.

The records include name, physical address, email address, and a timestamp and IP address (presumably of when the person opted in). I wonder if these IP addresses are like the ones I see on messages that swear up and down that I had signed up to receive mailings while using a computer at a particular IP address. Then I check the IP address and find it's in China or someplace I've never been.

Why is this company (whose real name is anybody's guess) offering such quality for so low a price?

As a major lead generation company we are generating more than we can use, so we are offering our membership clients an amazing deal.

Yah! They're so "major" that they hide behind three domain names (and mail through a fourth).

And what is their definition of opt-in? The Direct Marketing Association has several, only one of which corresponds to the good, confirmed type. In the meantime, a goodly number of spammers (perhaps this particular spammer) believe that posting a harvestable email address on a Web page or newsgroup return address is opting in to receive email from anybody.

Finally, is the address to which this outfit mailed this spam in their opt-in lead database? The Magic 8 Ball says: "Probably." But trust me when I say this: I am not waiting to hear from you if you intend to email me about a home-based business.

Posted on December 04, 2004 at 09:16 AM