Powered by Movable Type 3.121
Home The Book Training Events Tools Stats
Web log archive.
A Dispatch

« Spam in the Era of Monitored Email | Main | Collateral Damage from Phishing »

September 22, 2005

Mortgage Spam On The Decline?

Extrapolating any set of spam statistics to imply email-wide trends is a dangerous game, so I'll continue to declare trends only in light of observable spam arriving at my inboxes. Your mileage may vary (YMMV).

Fed up with so many lookalike spam messages touting mortgages, I began an aggressive reporting campaign back in February 2005. By "reporting," I mean that I forwarded to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission copies (the full source code, including headers) of all mortgage spam failing to meet CAN-SPAM requirements (a.k.a. all of them). A typical such message failed the CAN-SPAM test in one or more ways: forged headers; sent from zombie PCs; outright deceit; no physical mailing address; etc.

Even when I blocked messages linking to common domains, the mortgage spam continued to ooze through, and I sent it along to spam@uce.gov, the special FTC address that gathers spam samples in what the agency calls "The Refrigerator." I figured that there had to be enough of a U.S. connection to these mortgage lead spammers that if enough evidence accumulated (not just from me), then perhaps the FTC would look into the practice. So many of the messages bore the same B.S. in the same format, that the majority of them had to be connected to a single source somewhere.

Here is a summary of the quantity of mortgage spam forwarded to the FTC over the past many months:

Month (2005)Quantity Reported

Today is the 22nd of September, and upon reporting yet another mortgage spam, I realized that I haven't had to report many recently. Sure enough, my sent log indicates that for the first three weeks of September, I've received/forwarded only 5 mortgage spams. Moreover, the ones I received didn't bear any of the trademarks of the majority of those reported earlier.

Thus begs the question: What's the deal?

Deep down, I'd like to think that some FTC has been on the enforcement job, and they've been quiet about it until all the loose ends are tied up nicely. It would be nice to know if my 740 forwarded messages contributed to the evidence that led to the end of one or more spammers.

It could also be that the main perp was a college kid who finally started a real job in September. Who knows?

In the meantime, I'll simply bask in the glow of a nearly mortgage-spam-free inbox. I hope you're having the same luck.

Posted on September 22, 2005 at 03:02 PM