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June 25, 2006

Mortgage Spammers Getting More Desperate

Americans (and probably Canadians by osmosis) have a fixation with their credit histories. Television ads bombard us with making sure we know, and know how to improve, our FICO scores (a shorthand numerical credit ranking system). The higher the score, the easier it is to get credit on better terms (i.e., lower interest rates for things like homes and cars). There are now even laws that require the major credit reporting agencies to provide (upon request) a complete credit history record each year; the agencies also offer paid services for more frequent reports and "credit watch" services that alert you if someone inquires about your credit worthiness.

This is certainly no secret, and it's not lost on mortgage spammer—or just one mortgage spammer in this case. I believe it's the same root spammer who floods my inbox with mortgage offerings daily. There is a sameness to the messages that gets pretty boring after awhile, even though the domains of the links change frequently.

Here are the Subject: lines of two I saw today:

Subject: Danny Goodman Bad TransUnion Report
Subject: Bad info on your Equifax Credit File Danny Goodman

On the surface and to an untrained eye, these titles might seem to indicate that the sender had made credit inquiries and found something snarky in the reports. Of course if you hadn't authorized anyone to make such an inquiry, you'll rush to open the message to find out what it's about and who is looking into your history.

That's what the spammer is counting on, even though the deceptive practice is highly illegal in the U.S.

Of course the payload includes no information whatsoever about your [fill-in-the-blank] agency report. Instead, it's run-of-the-mill mortgage lead spam junk, making the spammer sound like a mortgage broker, when, in fact, he simply gathers leads and gets paid handsomely by the real mortgage broker for each lead.

This guy really shouldn't send so many similar messages so close together. It leads one (me) to contrast and compare the messages for various clues. Forget the domain registrations—the details are obviously bunk (that is, unless FTC investigators with warrants get involved—hint, hint). But the messages are also obviously made up from a template that inserts words in an almost Mad Libs way. Here are today's pair:

How are you, Danny Goodman

Your Credi*t is NOT a issue. If you own Property and want funds to expend anyway you wish or plainly wish to reduce your installments;

These suggestions will only be available for the next 48 hours.


I will provide you a decision within 27 mins., 99% acception!

Sheldon Brown


Greetings, Danny Goodman

Your Cr-edit is NOT a issue. If you own Real Estate and want capital to utilize anyway you wish or just like to decrease your payments;

Our endeavors will only be useable within the next 48 hours.


Our Office will send you a answer in 20 mins., 99% approval!

Colin Wayne

This is from the same campaign I wrote about earlier that had the busted mail merging software. Same garbage, newer domains (the ones in today's messages were registered yesterday).

I've forwarded these messages to the FTC refrigerator, as usual. But this time I've also sent them to the legal departments of TransUnion and Equifax, who may have trademark beefs with this clown.

With mortgage rates inching upward and applications inching downward, mortgage spammers may be getting more desperate to get people to open their messages. Screwing with peoples' heads about their credit reports is really getting up there in the Nasty Department. They're not leaving much room to escalate the attacks. I think the only more alarming Subject: line deceptions remaining are kidnapping ransom notes and death threats.

UPDATE (23:24 PDT): "Everyone" knows that there are not two, but three major credit reporting agencies. Sure enough, the third got mentioned in a subsequent mortgage lead spam from the same guy. Here are the ones that have arrived during the rest of the day:

Subject: Negative Experian Report Danny Goodman
Subject: Danny Goodman Bad info on your Experian Credit File
Subject: Negative info on your TransUnion Credit File Danny Goodman
Subject: Negative Experian Report Danny Goodman

So much spam to forward to the FTC and the credit bureaus; so little time.

Posted on June 25, 2006 at 09:15 AM