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Please feel free to repost this, e-mail it, put this FAQ on CD's or any other media you can think of. This is addition to the most excellent: Net Abuse FAQ (posted to news.admin.net-abuse.misc, alt.current-events.net-abuse etc...), brought to you by J.D. Falk jdfalk@cybernothing.org :

Subject: alt.spam FAQ or "Figuring out fake E-Mail & Posts". Rev 970906

From: gandalf@digital.net

Newsgroups: alt.2600, alt.spam, alt.newbie, news.admin.net-abuse.misc, news.admin.net-abuse.email, news.admin.net-abuse.usenet, alt.answers, news.answers

Followup-To: news.admin.net-abuse.misc, alt.spam, news.admin.net-abuse.usenet

Summary: This posting describes how to find out where a fake post or e-mail originated from.

Archive-name: net-abuse-faq/spam-faq

Posting-Frequency: monthly

Last-modified: 970906

URL: http://ddi.digital.net/~gandalf/spamfaq.html

Greetings and Salutations:

This FAQ will help in deciphering which machine a fake e-Mail or post came from, and who (generally or specifically) you should contact.

The three sections to this eight portion FAQ (With apologies to Douglas Adams :-)) :

o Introduction

o Tracing an e-mail message

o MAILING LIST messages

o Reporting Spam and tracing a posted message

o What is an IP address and converting an IP address

o WWW IP Lookup URL's

o Converting that IP to a name

o A list of Usenet complaint addresses

o Trying to catch the suspect still logged on

o Filtering E-Mail using procmail or News with Gnus

o Rejecting E-Mail from domains that continue to Spam

o Misc. (Because I can't spell miscellaneous :-)) stuff

I couldn't think to put anywhere else.

o Origins of Spam

o How *did* I get this unsolicited e-mail anyway?

o The MMF (Make Money Fast) Posts or any fraud on the Internet

o 1-900, 1-800 and 1-809 may be expensive long distance phone calls

o How To Respond to SPAM

o Revenge - What to do & not to do (mostly not)

o Telephoning someone

o Snail Mailing someone



Please feel free to repost this, e-mail it, put this FAQ on CD's or any other media you can think of.

This is addition to the most excellent:

Net Abuse FAQ (posted to news.admin.net-abuse.misc, alt.current-events.net-abuse etc...), brought to you by J.D. Falk jdfalk@cybernothing.org :


Spam cancellation notice (spam guidelines) :



http://www.cm.org for info on NoCeM

Currently the biggest net abusers, AGIS and CyberPromo FAQ:



http://bogong.acci.com.au~/jon - Send a complaint to AGIS.NET if they are bouncing your complaints back

Software to track the headers / eliminate Spam for you :


http://www.internz.com/SpamBeGone - Linux FreeBSD Amiga Solaris IRIX and soon a Eudora plugin

http://www.compulink.co.uk/~net-services/spam/ - Windows Spam Hater


TO: bitftp@pucc.princeton.edu

BODY: open ftp.compulink.co.uk

cd /pub/net-services

get spamhl.exe


http://www.blighty.com/spam/spade.html - WWW Spam tools

http://www.spammerslammer.com - Works with windows e-mail programs that uses pop mail

Spammers and how to stop them :



http://www.cauce.org - Trying to legislate against Spam







http://www.concentric.net/support/tos/index.html - Spam cleanup charges


http://inetw.com/home/ak/4useries/ - getit4u.txt has a Spam section

E-Mail headers and tracing tools FAQs and links:






http://www-fofa.concordia.ca/spam/tools.html - Macintosh Spam fighting

http://www.winsite.com/win3/winsock/page6.html - Windows Internet Utilities


http://www.metareality.com/~nathan/visit.cgi/spam/html.Remail - Remailer Info

http://www.metareality.com/~nathan/visit.cgi/spam/html.Spam - Fight Spam


News and E-Mail Spam Info in other languages:

http://home7.inet.tele.dk/spamlist/ - Denmark Spam page & spammer info

http://www.cup.com/negi/news.html - A general intro to news in Japanese

http://www.cup.com/negi/newsgroup0.html - What is a header in Japanese

http://www.ethereal.ru/~avk/anti-ad.html - Russian spam & headers page

http://www.grolier.fr/cyberlexnet/SECU/spam.htm - French Spam page

http://www.student.hro.nl/0445746/ - Dutch anti spam site

If you have a problem getting through to the following addresses try this one.

Or why Netabuse is bad :







What the alt.binaries.slack Organization has done to fight Spam :




The latest & greatest version of this Spam FAQ is found at:


Or *nicely* HTML'ed at:


Or the archive at:



PLEASE email follow-ups, additions / changes to gandalf@digital.net

My news source is OK, but I sometimes miss items.

There are places in this FAQ with ALL CAPS. This is where I need some help or input. I accept all and any input. I consider myself to be the manager of this FAQ for the good of everyone, not the absolute & controlling Owner Of The FAQ. I do not always write in a completely coherent manner. What makes sense to me may not make sense to others. If the community wants something added or deleted, I will do so. I removed any e-mail and last name references to someone making a suggestion / addition. This is so that someone doesn't get upset at this FAQ and do something stupid. If you don't mind having your e-mail in this FAQ (or where it is required), please tell me and I will add it back in.

First off, before trying to determine where the post or e-mail originated from, you should realize that (just like the National Inquirer, or a logical argument from C&S) the message will have *some* amount of truth, but all or most of the information may be forged. Be careful before accusing someone.

Commands used in this FAQ are UNIX & VMS commands. Sorry if they don't work for you, you might wish to try looking around at your commands to find an equivalent command (or I might be able to help out some).

And no, I am not going to tell you how to post a fake message or fake e-mail. It only took me about 2 days (a few hours a day) to figure it out. It ain't difficult. RTFM (or more appropriately, Read The @&%^@# RFC).

Every e-mail or post will have a point at which it was injected into the information stream. E-mail will have a real computer from which it was passed along. Likewise a post will have a news server that started passing the post. You need to get cooperation of the postmaster at the sites the message passed thru. Then you can get information from the logs telling you what sites the message actually passed thru, and where the message "looked" like it passed thru (but actually didn't). Of course you do have to have the cooperation of all the postmasters in a string of sites...

Tracing an e-mail message


First (and easiest) thing to forge is the e-mail return address. Most personal computer posting software lets you type in just about any e-mail address you want to (for example the software I am using to post this message). Unless someone is a real idiot or they truly don't know they will annoy tons of people, they will forge a fake e-mail return or put in the e-mail of someone they don't like.

It seems that most machines will accept e-mail from any other machine, so don't send e-mail to postmasters at "upstream" sites that are just passing the message along.

You will need to take a look at the headers on the message (if you can) In PINE (for example) you have to turn on the header option in setup, then just hit "h" to get headers. In Eudora for the Macintosh, just press the button labeled "Blah Blah Blah" and you will get the header. In Eudora for the IBM PC, go under Tools menu, then under options, then to Fonts and Display and enable the "show all headers (even the ugly ones)" option.

Look for a line like the following:

Message-ID: Chameleon.951024110528.inetlis1@inetlis.wavenet.com

You should look at the message ID first & see what site it appeared to come from (the part after the "@" sign). If it is a bunch of numbers (an IP address) then you should then do a "nslookup" (see further below for a description of nslookup) to see what the site name is. Furthermore all the message-ID lines should have a unique number. If not then you have someone who is *very* familiar with the SMTP protocol and is forging the e-mail to another site (like the Euphoria Tape spammer). Sometimes this header will even tell you who the message actually came from.

From the below, the only way we can tell the origin site is in the Message-Id (which has an IP of is to do a nslookup on the IP address, and proceed from there.

Gregory tells us that assuming a reasonably standard and recent sendmail setup, a Received line that looks like :

Received: from host1 (host2 [ww.xx.yy.zz]) by host3

(8.7.5/8.7.3) with SMTP id MAA04298; Thu, 18 Jul 1996 12:18:06 -0600

shows four pieces of useful information (reading from back to front, in order of decreasing reliability):

- The host that added the Received line (host3)

- The IP address of the incoming SMTP connection (ww.xx.yy.zz)

- The reverse-DNS lookup of that IP address (host2)

- The name the sender used in the SMTP HELO command when they

connected (host1).

Received: from [] (ppp007.free.org []) by

sirocco.CC.McGill.CA (8.6.12/8.6.6) with SMTP id EAA16681; Sat, 11 Nov 1995

04:50:30 -0500

X-SMTP-Posting-Origin: [] (ppp007.free.org [])

X-Sender: yoshio@osak.ac.jp (Unverified)

Message-Id: v0153051facca0e1e11d6@[]

If I see that e-mail was passed to me thru a "mule" (someone using an open SMTP port to reroute e-mail to me) I usually send the postmaster something like the following :

postmaster@XXXXX - Your SMTP mail server XXXXX was used as a mule to pass (and waste your system resources) this e-mail on to me. You can stop your SMTP port from allowing rerouting of e-mail back outside of your domain if you wish to. FYI only. See:


Test it at :


There are some systems that "claim" to "cloak" e-mail. It is not true. If you receive one that looks like the following :

Received: from relay4.ispam.net (root@[]) by ddi.digital.net (8.8.5/8.8.5) with ESMTP id KAA28969 for gandalf@digital.net; Thu, 26 Jun 1997 10:41:46 -0400 (EDT)

Received: from --- CLOAKED! ---

Received: from chairpak.com (chairpak.com []) by chairpak.com (0.0.0./0.0.0.) with SMTP id AAA000000 for chairpak@chairpak.com; Thu, 26 Jun 1997 3:54:37 -0500 (EST)

It is still broken down as follows :

- The route the e-mail took originated from the system above the line marked "cloaked". There is no magic to it. Complain to that provider. If you get no response from the site that spammed, you should ask your provider to no longer allow the above site [] to connect to your system.

- Whois showed the site to be (and as of yet my complaints to mattm@IDCI.COM have been ignored) :


Netname: IDCI-BLK-11

Netblock: -

- Ignore the lines below "cloaked" they are just there to add confusion.

- Ignore any IP that is greater than 255 or (as in the above) start with 0. These are not allowable IP addresses.

Sample fake e-mail message :

From A@b.c.d Sat Nov 11 13:16 EST 1995

Received: from wavenet.com (wavenet.com []) by ddi.digital.net (8.6.11/8.6.9) with ESMTP id NAA04656 for gandalf@ddi.digital.net; Sat, 11 Nov 1995 13:16:03 -0500

Received: from ddi.digital.net (ddi.digital.net []) by wavenet.com (8.6.12/8.6.9) with SMTP id KAA27279 for gandalf@ddi.digital.net; Sat, 11 Nov 1995 10:27:52 -0800

Received: from wavenet.com (wavenet.com []) by ddi.digital.net (8.6.11/8.6.9) with ESMTP id OAA18017 for gandalf@ddi.digital.net; Tue, 24 Oct 1995 14:09:46 -0400

Received: from inetlis.wavenet.com (port16.wavenet.com []) by wavenet.com (8.6.12/8.6.9) with SMTP id LAA02685 for gandalf@ddi.digital.net; Tue, 24 Oct 1995 11:21:12 -0700

This is a mail message I sent to myself just to use as an example. I have cut out a bit of the other header information so that I could take a look at just the important parts.

Obvious faked piece is the "From" address. You read the headers from the bottom to the top to trace which sites the message has gone thru.

Make sure that you do a nslookup on the IP address's (for example I would verify actually is wavenet.com). If the IP doesn't jive with the name then you may have the IP address of the e-mail faker. BE SURE to verify the IP address. Windows '95 machines place the name of the machine as the "name" and place the real IP address after the name, meaning a spammer can give a legitimate "name" of someone else to get them in trouble. A spammer at cyberpromo changed their mail answer so that it claimed to be from Compuserve. The Received line looked like the below, but a quick verification of the IP address showed it was indeed from cyberpromo :

Received: from dub-img-4.compuserve.com (cyberpromo.com []) by karpes.stu.rpi.edu

The above message IP's decode to the following

port16.wavenet.com =

wavenet.com =

ddi.digital.net =

From site To site Date / Time (delta GMT)

Time in GMT hh:mm:ss


inetlis.wavenet.com wavenet.com Tue, 24 Oct 1995 11:21:12 -0700


wavenet.com ddi.digital.net Tue, 24 Oct 1995 14:09:46 -400


ddi.digital.net wavenet.com Sat, 11 Nov 1995 10:27:52 -800


wavenet.com ddi.digital.net Sat, 11 Nov 1995 13:16:03 -500


The first is hh:mm.ss WULT (WULT == Widely Unknown Local Time :-)) with a delta from GMT, so you add in the delta to get a "zero" time. The time is from the computer transmitting, so it is possible to have the clocks several minutes apart.

GMT = Greenwich Mean Time. The "time" was kept at RGO (Royal Greenwich Observatory?), Greenwich England at one time and is also known as UTC (UTC = Coordinated Universal Time, or Universal Coordinated Time) or "Zulu" or Zero time. It is kept by the UK National Physical Laboratory, and is no longer at the RGO (Royal Greenwich Observatory?).

I manually inserted the first two mail transfers myself (as you can see from the date / times) to muddy the waters. It looks like this message originated from inetlis.wavenet.com, when in reality it came from ddi.digital.net. The date / time (in this case) tells you that something is wrong, but sometimes a computer may be down along the way which would hold up the mail.

You really need cooperation from other people & get multiple messages to compare the headers. There will be a common "injection" point. Whether it is the starting point or in the middle. Ask that postmaster to look thru the logs & figure out who sent that e-mail. Someone from the first common injection point "From" site spammed out the e-mail.

It has been kindly pointed out to me that there is a "feature" (read "bug") in the UNIX mail spool wherein the person e-mailing you a message can append a "message" (with the headers) to the end of their message. It makes the mail reader think you have 2 messages when the joker that sent the original message only sent one message (with a fake message appended). If the headers look *really* screwy, you might look at the message before the screwy message and consider if it may not be a "joke" message.

There are also IBM mainframes that do not include the machine that they received the SMTP traffic from. You have to route the message (with headers) back to the postmaster at that system and ask them to tell you what the IP of the machine is that hooked into their system for that message.

It has also been pointed out that someone on your server can telnet back to the mail port and send you mail. This also makes the forgery virtually untraceable by you, but as always your admin should be able to catch the telnet back to the server. If they telnet to a foreign SMTP server and then use the "name" of a user on that system, it may appear to you that the message came from that user. Be very careful when making assumptions about where the e-mail came from.



Stephanie kindly tells me :

A MAILING LIST is a type of email distribution in which email is sent to a fixed site which holds a list of email recipients and mail is distributed to those recipients automatically (or through a moderator).

A LISTSERVER is a software program designed to manage one or more mailing lists. One of the more popular packages is named "LISTSERV". Besides Listserv, other popular packages include Listproc which is a Unix Listserv clone (Listservs originated on BITNET), Majordomo and Mailserve. Most importantly -- not all mailing lists run on listservers, there are many mailing lists that are manually managed.

You may hear of mailing lists being referred to as many things, some strange, some which on the surface make sense, like "email discussion groups". But this isn't accurate either, since not all mailing lists are set up for discussion.

Example Header appears below:

Received: from dir.bham.ac.uk (dir.bham.ac.uk []) by gol1.gol.com (8.7.5/8.6.9) with SMTP id GAA27292 for XXXX@gol.com; Sun, 5 May 1996 06:31:15 +0900 (JST)

Received: from bham.ac.uk by dir.bham.ac.uk with SMTP (PP) using DNS id 26706-38@dir.bham.ac.uk; Sat, 4 May 1996 20:56:49 +0100

Received: from emout09.mail.aol.com (actually emout09.mx.aol.com) by bham.ac.uk with SMTP (PP); Sat, 4 May 1996 21:13:03 +0100

Received: by emout09.mail.aol.com (8.6.12/8.6.12) id PAA29156; Sat, 4 May 1996 15:35:53 -0400

Date: Sat, 4 May 1996 15:35:53 -0400

From: Jeanchev@aol.com

Message-ID: 960504153553_287142426@emout09.mail.aol.com

Subject: CRaZy Complimentary Offer........

This is a post from Kevin Lipsitz for his "=== FREE 1 yr. USA Magazine Subscriptions". Reports are that he doesn't provide very good service after the sale of the subscription (that is if you even get a magazine). In relation to the Internet he makes a slimy used car salesman look like a saint. We won't even start to discuss the fact the he likes to use female names for his messages...

The latest information indicates that the state of New York has told him he should stop abusing the Internet for a while ... lets hope it is forever.

For more info about "Krazy Kevin" or the Magazine Spam , Tony tells us the page "Stop Spam!" is available in html format at:


But as David reminds us, There are a million Kevin J. Lipsitz's out there. All selling magazines, Amway, vitamins, phone service, etc. All the losers who want to get rich quick, but can't start their own business.

Like :


That having been said, e-mail from a Listserve can usually be broken down the same way as "normal" e-mail headers. There are just more waypoints along the way. As you can see from the above, the e-mail originated from :


You might with to also direct the listserve owner to look at & ask questions in news.admin.net-abuse.misc about how to keep spam off the listserve. It probably won't be all that difficult of a thing to do.

Reporting Spam and tracing a posted message


If someone posts a message with your e-mail in the From: or Reply-To: field, it can (and will if you request) be canceled. Please repost the message to news.admin.net-abuse.misc WITH THE HEADERS (or it will probably be ignored) so that the message cam be canceled (the message-id is the most important) with a suggested subject of the following:

Subject: FORGERY Subject from the Spam message

Try to make sure that the message has not already been posted to news.admin.net-abuse.misc, news.admin.net-abuse.email or news.admin.net-abuse.usenet and that it is less than 4 or 5 days old. Chris reminds us that yes, there are a lot of annoying, off-topic and stupid postings out there. But that doesn't make it spam. _Really_. All we're concerned with is _volume_. Don't report any potential spams unless you see at least two copies in at least 4 groups. The content is irrelevant. Spam canceling cannot be by content.

For off topic posts, see http://ddi.digital.net/~gandalf/trollfaq.html

The first thing to do is to post the ENTIRE message (PLEASE put the header in or it will probably be ignored) to the newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.misc. Do not reply or post it back to the original group. A suggested subject is one of the following:

Subject: EMP Subject from the Spam message

Subject: ECP Subject from the Spam message

Subject: UCE Subject from the Spam message

Subject: SEX Subject from the Spam message

Please include the original Subject: from the original Spam so that it can easily be spotted. Thank you.

An Excessive Multiple Post (EMP) may exceed the spam threshold and may be canceled. An Excessive Cross Post (ECP) may not be canceled because it hasn't reached the threshold. A UCE is for Unsolicited Commercial Email, SEX is for off-topic sex-ad postings.

Make Money Fast message is immediately cancelable and are usually canceled already by others, so please do not report MMF posts. See MMF section below.

Tracing a fake post is probably easier than a fake e-mail because of some posting peculiarities. You just have to save and look at a few "normal" posts to try to spot peculiarities. Most people are not energetic to go to the lengths of the below, but you never know.

Dan reminds us that first you should gather the same post from *several* different sites (get your friends to mail the posts to you) and look at the "Path" line. Somewhere it should "branch". If there is a portion that is common to all posts, then the "actual" posting computer is (most likely) in that portion of the path. That should be the starting postmaster to contact. Be sure to do this expeditiously because the log files that help to trace these posts may be deleted daily.

Once again, start by looking at the Message-ID, and ask yourself if that site makes sense. Again, look at the number after the Message-ID and see if it is identical for several *different* posts (i.e. posts to different groups). Message-ID's are unique for each *different* post. If the Message-ID is the same, then it is faked. If you *really* want to see some fake posts, look in alt.test or in the alt.binaries.wares.* groups.

A fake post:

Path: ...!news.sprintlink.net!in2.uu.net!news.net99.net!news!s46.phxslip4.indirect.com!vac

From: XXX@indirect.com(Female User)

Subject: Femdom In Search of Naughty Boys

Message-ID: DHLMvE.24H@goodnet.com

Sender: XXX@indirect.com(Female User)

Nntp-Posting-Host: s46.phxslip4.indirect.com

Organization: Internet Direct, Inc.

X-Newsreader: Trumpet for Windows[Version 1.0 Rev B final beta #1]

Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 01:59:38 GMT

Approved: XXX@indirect.com

Lines: 13

This poor lady (Name deleted by suggestion) was abused by someone for a couple of days in an epic spam. Many messages were gathered. The message ID was different for several messages. But several anomalies showed an inept poster.

The headers were screwed up, and when looking at a selection of messages from several sites, the central site was news.net99.net, where goodnet.com gets / injects news at. This lead to the conclusion that either goodnet.com or news.net99.net should be contacted to see who the original spammer was. I never heard the results of this, but the spamming eventually stopped.

E-Mail return is probably the easiest to fake and is * always * suspect. The NNTP-Posting-Host and / or Message-ID are harder to fake (but not *much* harder...) and probably deserve a closer look at those sites.

You can try looking at sites & see if they have that message by :

telnet s46.phxslip4.indirect.com 119

Connected to s46.phxslip4.indirect.com.

200 s46.phxslip4.indirect.com InterNetNews server INN 1.4 22-Dec-93 ready

head DHLMvE.24H@goodnet.com


Message was not found at that site, so it did not go thru that computer, or the article has already expired or been deleted off of that news reader.

If you wish to track a particular phrase, user-id (whatever) take a look at the URL for getting all the posts pertaining to "X" :




What is an IP address and converting an IP address


When all you have is a number the looks like "", and no computer name, then you have to figure out what the name of that computer is. Most likely if you complain to " postmaster@[] " it will go directly to the spammer themselves (if it goes anywhere at all).

WWW IP Lookup URL's


A whole *host* of WWW IP utils is thoughtfully provided by Mike at :


Or Yet Another Traceroute :


For a WWW version of Dig :



http://www.alldomains.com/nfindex.html - Worldwide Domain lookup




IP to Lat - Lon (For those times when only a Tactical Nuke will do ;-)) :



Yet Another IP to name:


Converting that IP to a name


If the site is a IP address like "", you can do a DNS lookup to backtrack the site. A DNS lookup or a host command (see example below) uses the info in a Domain Name Server database. This is the same info that is used for packet routing. The UNIX command is :


And you get :



If you are having problems with this, Josh suggests you try :

$ nslookup

Default Server: ddi.digital.net


set type=ptr

Server: ddi.digital.net


Non-authoritative answer: name = kjl.com

Authoritative answers can be found from:

126.183.204.IN-ADDR.ARPA nameserver = escape.com

126.183.204.IN-ADDR.ARPA nameserver = ns.uu.net

escape.com Internet address =

ns.uu.net Internet address =

InterNIC is your friend. The InterNIC Registration Services Host contains ONLY Internet Information (Networks, ASN's, Domains, and POC's). Please use the whois server at nic.ddn.mil for MILNET Information. Try :

telnet rs.internic.net


If that doesn't provide anything, try chopping off the last digits and you might get:

Whois: 204.162.179



Success! BARRNet has the blocks of the IP's.

John tells us :

Um yes, but that particular sub-block belongs to slip.net... barrnet is obviously slip.net's provider, the barrnet block looks like 4 class B's (or 256 THOUSAND IP's..), while the slip.net block is a mere 32 class C's (or 8 thousand IP's)...

So a whois NETBLK-SLIP gives us (among other information) :



Netblock: -

Dan has said that the NIC technical contact is the address to contact if there is a technical problem with the name service records for that domain. Sending spam notifications to the zone tech contact is an abuse of the NIC whois records. Sending to the admin contact is marginally more justifiable, but should only be used after postmaster has been tried.

To see who the upstream provider is, try :

multinet traceroute ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com

You might get :

traceroute to IP30.ABQ-DIALIN.HOLLYBERRY.COM (, 30 hops max, 38 byte packets

1 cpe2.Washington.mci.net ( 190 ms 210 ms 120 ms

2 borderx1-hssi2-0.Washington.mci.net ( 100 ms 100 ms 60 ms

3 core-fddi-0.Washington.mci.net ( 180 ms 130 ms 70 ms

4 core1-hssi-4.LosAngeles.mci.net ( 150 ms 140 ms 150 ms

5 core-hssi-4.Bloomington.mci.net ( 180 ms 200 ms 180 ms

6 border1-fddi-0.Bloomington.mci.net ( 170 ms 290 ms 240 ms

7 internet-direct.Bloomington.mci.net ( 300 ms 210 ms 270 ms

8 ( 180 ms 240 ms 180 ms

9 abq-phx-gw1.indirect.com ( 290 ms 220 ms 230 ms

10 * * *

Humm..... Seems that after abq-phx-gw1.indirect.com we get no response, so *that* is who I would complain to... or you can just send a message to postmaster@indirect.com.

JamBreaker sez : Be sure to let the traceroute go until the traceroute stops after 30 hops or so. A reply of "* * *" doesn't mean that you've got the right destination; it just means that either the gateways don't send ICMP "time exceeded" messages or that they send them with a ttl (time-to-live) too small to reach you.

Try 'dig' (or one of its derivatives), it is used to search DNS records :

(For the software : http://www.rediris.es/ftp/infoiris/red/ip/dns/dig-2.0/

yourhost dig -x

; dig 2.0 -x

;; -HEADER- opcode: QUERY , status: NOERROR, id: 6

;; flags: qr aa rd ra ; Ques: 1, Ans: 1, Auth: 3, Addit: 3


;;, type = ANY, class = IN

;; ANSWERS: 86400 PTR ip89.albuquerque.nm.interramp.com.


11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns.psi.net.

11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns2.psi.net.

11.38.in-addr.arpa. 86400 NS ns5.psi.net.


ns.psi.net. 86400 A

ns2.psi.net. 86400 A

ns5.psi.net. 86400 A

;; Sent 1 pkts, answer found in time: 64 msec

;; FROM: (yourhostname) to SERVER: default -- (yourDNSip)

;; WHEN: Thu Nov 16 23:30:42 1995

;; MSG SIZE sent: 43 rcvd: 216

A list of Usenet complaint addresses


O.K... So you have a common site that you can complain to. Good. If you cannot figure out where the message came from, you can post the FULL HEADERS (this is *very* important for tracing) to news.admin.net-abuse.misc, news.admin.net-abuse.email or news.admin.net-abuse.usenet (see the section entitled Reporting Spam and tracing a posted message). Usually you can get someone to help with the message.

If you complain to the spammer directly, you may just be confirming a "real" live e-mail address, which may lead to even more junk e-mail. I would suggest complaining to the owner of the site only. You can send e-mail to foo.bar.com@abuse.net (where foo.bar.com is the provider you are complaining to) and it will get forwarded to the "best" e-mail address.. See http://www.abuse.net/

There is a list of admins to contact (besides the list contained here):



Greg reminds us that if you are complaining to a postmaster about a week-old post, don't bother. It's not on their server, they can't verify it. Make sure you use terms correctly. A recent trend is to call any off-topic post "spam". It's not. I deal with spammers and off-topic or advertising posters differently. Other providers do also. Also, try to keep the clutter in your complaints down. I don't need a copy of the referenced RFC or statute. It doesn't help either of us if I can't find your complaint in between all the mumbo jumbo.

Send complaint with FULL HEADERS in e-mail to any or all of the below :




Note : abuse@site.net and admin@site.net are not "standard" complaint e-mail addresses, but I have seen those listed more and more frequently.

A nice Perl script put together to complain about spam (by Nate) is at :


Chris tells us :

If you see MMFs or other gross abuses from AOL, MSN, MCI (_not_internetmci), Primenet, Panix, please do not report them to news.admin.net-abuse.misc. Just wastes bandwidth. Email your report directly to the provider:






By "gross abuses", please try to ensure that it really is likely to be spam. Not one article cross-posted lots, but lots of articles that you see yourself. In AOL or MCI's case, the definition of abuse is somewhat stricter (AOL bans commercial use. MCI's tolerance thresholds is lower)

For the following providers the correct e-mail address is:

4websites.com / www.4cruises.com - Connectivity by netcom.net. Send complaints to noc@noc.netcom.net or abuse@netcom.com

ABSnet - support@abs.net or abs-admin@abs.net

AGIS.NET - You can complain to postmaster@AGIS.NET or abuse@agis.net , but it is probably a waste of your time. AGIS.NET should be UDP'ed (Usenet Death Penalty, i.e. no Usenet (news) connectivity to or from AGIS.NET), and cut off from all SMTP mail exchanges. They do not put any restrictions on SPAM sent out by their customers. I complained enough to sprintlink.net (they provide connectivity to AGIS.NET for me, found thru a traceroute) and eventually I stopped getting all SPAM from CyberPromo. AGIS.NET is partially owned by http://www.alltel.com/overview/news/n411m19a.html

For the full story on AGIS.NET see : http://members.aol.com/macabrus/agisfaq.html

Aloha.Net - abuse@aloha.net

AOL - abuse@aol.com. Emergency - send complete copies to atropos@aol.net

www.angelfire.com or angelfire.com - mail@angelfire.com

answerme.com - See CyberPromo.com

AT&T WorldNet Services - abuse@worldnet.att.net

Bellatlantic.net - abuse@bellatlantic.net

Bellsouth - abuse@bellsouth.net

Best.com - abuse@best.com

Cais.net - noc@cais.com - http://www.cais.net/caisweb/cais-aup.html - CAIS acceptable use

Com.BR - Policy - demi@agestado.com.br security violations write the list cert-br@listas.ansp.br

Compuserve - compumail USEMAIL@CSI.compuserve.com or 70006.101@compuserve.com or POSTMASTER@COMPUSERVE.COM, compunews NEWSMASTER@COMPUSERVE.COM

CyberPromo.com - You can try postmaster@AGIS.NET since they provide connectivity but see above. You can try contacting abuse@sprintlink.net, postmaster@sprintlink.net or Postmaster@mci.net or any of the other backbone providers. Maybe they can do something.

For the full story on CyberPromo.com see : http://members.aol.com/macabrus/cpfaq.html

Demon.net - abuse@demon.net, postmaster@demon.net or newsmaster@demon.net

DejaNews - abuse@dejanews.com - See http://postnews.dejanews.com/post.xp

Digex.net - abuse@digex.net (along with your name & postal address (including city & state) http://www.access.digex.net/~policy/digex-aup.html

Digital-market.com - www.digital-market.com - See CyberPromo

Direct.CA - complaints@direct.ca

earthlink.net - abuse@earthlink.net or spam@earthlink.net http://www.earthlink.net/company/aupolicy.html - Acceptable use

Erols.com - abuse@erols.com

Exec-PC Inc. - abuse@execpc.com

Freenet.carleton.ca - abuse@freenet.carleton.ca

Geocities.com - abuse@geocities.com

gergs_bane.org (does not exist, it is faked) - See UUNET - help@uunet.uu.net

GNN.Com - For help regarding a problem with a GNN member - GNNadvisor@gnn.com.

GTE.net - abuse@gte.net

hitsrus.com - Another AGIS.NET spamming domain. See AGIS.NET

Hongkong's ISPs - send an email to hkinet@glink.net.hk with anything in the subject/body. You'll get a most recent version of the list contacts by email within minutes.

IBM Net - Postmaster@ibm.net - Also see http://www.ibm.net/helpdesk.html

IDT.Net - abuse@idt.net, but parthiv@admin.idt.net is an emergency contact

interramp.com - abuse@interramp.com or psinet-domain-admin@PSI.COM

interserve.com.hk - Mr. K H Lee - khlee@interserve.com.hk.

INS Info Services (netins.net) - abuse@netins.net

iSTAR Canada (istar.ca, inforamp.net, hotstar.net, magi.com, or nstn.ca) - abuse@iSTAR.ca

Juno.com - postmaster@juno.com

LAKER.NET admin@laker.net or VOICE 1-954-359-3670 FAX 1-954-359-2741

LLV.COM - Yet another Spam domain that uses AGIS.net as a provider.

Loop.Com or Loop.net - greg@loop.com

MALIBU - postmaster@pbi.net

MCI Net - spamcomplaints@MCI.NET For security problems see http://www.security.MCI.NET

Campus.MCI.Net - postmaster@campus.mci.net

MCSNet - support@mcs.net

mkt-america.com - See AGIS.net

Mindspring.com - abuse@mindspring.com Note : Mindspring is no longer affiliated with INTERRAMP.COM

money.com or money.now - postmaster@cam.org

MS.UU.Net - Example CustXX.MaxXX.city.ST.MS.UU.NET and explicitly contains an MSN e-mail address (@msn.com) - abuse@msn.com

MS.UU.Net - Example CustXX.MaxXX.city.ST.MS.UU.NET and does not have @msn.com - fraud@uu.net

Netcom or any account with an @ix.netcom.com address - abuse@netcom.com for standard SPAM junk. security@netcom.com is for instances of forgery, cracking etc. NetCruiser Technical Support - support@ix.netcom.com. For a Netcom network customer (like shippingplanet.com) send e-mail to noc@noc.netcom.net.

Netins.net - abuse@netins.net

NEVWEST.COM - Yet another AGIS Spam domain in conjunction with LLV.COM.

pacbell.net - david@pbi.net, policy@pbi.net

Pipeline.com - postmaster@pipeline.com, abuse@pipeline.com bounced back to me.

PIPEX- postmaster@dial.pipex.com, International - int-sup@pipex.net, Unipalm PIPEX - postmaster@unipalm.pipex.com

portal.com - support@portal.com

Prodigy - mailadm@prodigy.com or abuse@prodigy.net (but many times this mailbox is full). I don't think postmaster@prodigy.com is read by a person. Security issues can be sent to security@prodigy.com .

pwrnet - abuse@pwrnet.com

PSI Net - abuse@psi.com, net-abuse@psi.com PSI Net policies - http://www.psi.net/csg/netabuse.html ... Note : Earthlink uses PSINet's pops

QUANTCOM.COM - See AGIS.net. A long time reputation of spamming on the Internet.

Rain.net - abuse@rain.net

savetrees.com - See CyberPromo.com

Slip Net - hellman@slip.net - Tech Support

Southwindent.com - postmaster@vcity.net - See http://www.southwindent.com/policies.htm

Sprint - abuse@sprint.net

Sprintlink - 800-669-8303 abuse@sprint.net, noc@sprintlink.net. For dialsprint.net abuse reports send to abuse@dialsprint.net . For sprintmail.com abuse reports send to abuse@sprintmail.com . You can view Sprint's Policy at http://www.sprintbiz.com/data1/ip/policy.html

sprynet - postmaster@spry.com

Teleport System Administration - teleport.com - admin@teleport.com

tip.net - postmaster@tip.net hh@tip.net

University of Pennsylvania - millar@pobox.upenn.edu - For security matters : security@isc.upenn.edu

Other matters: millar@pobox.upenn.edu

USA.Net - http://netaddress.usa.net/nospam.html

UUNET Customer Liaison - MASSMAIL (E-Mail SPAMS) - fraud@uu.net, Newsgroup Spams - spam-complaint@uu.net. help@uunet.uu.net See Also MS.UU.Net - For abuse of the open UUNET NNTP port, UUNET will block the site if you complain. See Gergsbane.org

From : David Jackson (djackson@aol.net) (and this applies to *any* abuse) :

To report an instance of USENET abuse send mail to postmaster@aol.com - please remember to include a complete copy of the USENET article, including all headers, to help us quickly quash the abuse.

Scott reminds us :

It might also be a good idea to remind people that sometimes the postmaster _is_ the spammer. Joe Spam might have his own domain (since they _used_ to be free) inside of which they are the postmaster. This is terrifyingly common with net.twits (kooks, etc.) but seems rare for spam. A quick note that if the spammer is the admin contact in whois, notifying the postmaster will surely generate laughs on their end.

In the letter to the postmaster, you might wish to mention Joel's very good FAQ about advertising on the Internet :



And where they *should* advertise :


Or for why posting business or e-mailing business ads are bad :


If you don't get a proper response from the postmaster, remember, Whois - rs.internic.net is your friend. You can get information on / about a site by:

telnet rs.internic.net

whois spammer.site.net

The InterNIC Registration Services Host contains ONLY Internet Information (Networks, ASN's, Domains, and POC's). Please use the whois server at nic.ddn.mil for MILNET Information.

This *should* get you a person to talk to & their personal e-mail address. If you don't get any response from that postmaster, then you should try the provider to that site. This gets a little trickier, but a multinet traceroute should show you the upstream provider, and from there you can try contacting the postmasters of *that* site.

Any non-profit organization (like a University) should be very happy to help get rid of a spammer if the non-profit organizations resources are being used to spam a for-profit business. The IRS can take their non-profit status away for such things. Talk to the legal council at the non-profit organization if you don't get a positive response from the postmaster.

Worst case, a site can be UDP (Usenet Death Penalty) out so that other sites stop accepting news or even e-mail from that site. They are cut off from the net. Decisions like this are discussed in the news group news.admin.net-abuse.misc .

Thanx to Leslie, whom to contact about domains that have invalid contact information :

Internic Registration Services should be contacted by phone:


or email:


If the spammer site has problems trying to figure out where the spam came from, they can *always* get help from the denizens of news.admin.net-abuse.misc, but have them take a look at their logs first and see if they see something like (Thanks to help from Michael):

My news logs (for INND) are:

$ cd /usr/log/news

$ ls

OLD expire.log news.err unwanted.log

errlog news news.notice

expire.list news.crit nntpsend.log

and here is my syslog.conf:

## news stuff

news.crit /usr/log/news/news.crit

news.err /usr/log/news/news.err

news.notice /usr/log/news/news.notice

news.info /usr/log/news/news

news.debug /usr/log/news/news.debug

but, what they need to remember, is they HAVE TO LOOK QUICK!. INND expire puts all these logs in OLD, and recycles them, and expires them at the 7th day (and gzips them), i.e., OLD/:

ls -l news.?.*

-r--r----- 1 news news 181098 May 23 06:26 news.1.gz


-r--r----- 1 news news 319343 May 17 06:29 news.7.gz

so... to grep an old log looking for sfa.ufl.edu:

(the {nn} is how many days ago, 1 is yesterday, 2 is 2 days ago, etc)

cd {log/OLD}

gunzip -c news.1.gz | grep sfa.ufl.edu | more

Trying to catch the suspect still logged on


If you think you know a machine close to the spammer, you can change your default DNS lookup server (and get *lots* more info ;-)) by :

$ nslookup

server wb3ffv.abs.net

Default Server: wb3ffv.abs.net


ls -d kjl.com


kjl.com. SOA kjl.com dns-admin.abs.net. (10 21600 3600604800 86400)

kjl.com. NS ns1.abs.net

kjl.com. NS ns2.abs.net

kjl.com. MX 10 abs.net

kjl.com. SOA kjl.com dns-admin.abs.net. (10 21600 3600604800 86400)

If you are quick enough, you can see if the spammer is still on by :

multinet RUSERS rust.nmt.edu

And you might get :

kuller ray timbers jweinman timbers john timbers rayzer

Assuming that the spammer is from ingress.com you can expand the Spammers UserID (some sites have expn / vrfy turned off) by:

telnet ingress.com smtp

Trying ...

Connected to ingress.com.

Escape character is '^]'.

220 ingress.com Sendmail 4.1/SMI-4.1 ready at Sun, 22 Oct 95 15:13:39 EDT

expn krazykev

250 Lipsitz Kevin krazykev@kjl.com

We connect to port 25 (smtp) and issues an expn command. Looks like krazykev@kjl.com is being used as a maildrop for this user. I'll would send my complaint to postmaster@kjl.com as well (not that it would do any good in Krazy Kevin's case... but the reply to your e-mail might be amusing).

To find out the Mail Exchange records, do a nslookup for the MX records only. You can then look up the expansion of the postmaster or root to see who they really are. For example :

% nslookup

set type=mx


gnn.com preference = 20, mail exchanger = mail-e1a.gnn.com

gnn.com preference = 10, mail exchanger = mail-e1b.gnn.com

% telnet mail-e1a.gnn.com smtp

220 mail-e1a.gnn.com ESMTP Sendmail 8.7.1/8.6.9 ready at Thu, 11 Jan 1996 12:54:26 -0500 (EST)

expn postmaster


250 gnnadvisor@mail-e1a.gnn.com

expn root


250 gnn-monitor@ans.net

You can use the 'host' command. It's really simple:

% host -t any domain.name

This will give you anything your name server can find out.

% host -t ns domain.name

This tells you the name servers. Not all systems have host, but it's a small program which should be easy to compile (like whois).

The command "last" will tell where the spammer logged on from last, but it has to be done by a user from that site. For example :

last imrket4u

Would produce :

imrket4u ttypf ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com Fri Sep 15 00:27 - 00:34 (00:06)

imrket4u ttyq8 ip30.abq-dialin.hollyberry.com Fri Sep 15 00:19 - 00:20 (00:01)

imrket4u ttyqc abq-ts1 Thu Sep 14 20:42 - 22:21 (01:39)

imrket4u ttyqc rust.nmt.edu Thu Sep 14 18:39 - 18:41 (00:01)

imrket4u ttypb abq-ts1 Thu Sep 14 17:55 - 17:57 (00:02)

Filtering E-Mail using procmail or News with Gnus


Get the procmail FAQ :








Or read about it when it is posted to :

Newsgroups: comp.mail.misc , comp.mail.elm , comp.mail.pine , comp.answers , news.answers

Subject: Filtering Mail FAQ

Bob tells me that Eudora Pro has a good filtering capability. You can filer based on who you send e-mail to, known spammers, etc. Enough filters and you may see hardly any Spam. Claris E-Mailer, likewise, has a filter option.

Brian has a Gnus scorefile from the Internet blacklist :


Or his example global scorefile :


Many news readers have a "kill" file that will filter out the posts from either a certain user-id, or posts with certain titles. Each news reader is unique. You might wish to read the help file on the subject of kill files.

Rejecting E-Mail from domains that continue to Spam


Spamfilters can be found at:




List of spammers:



Or look at a page on how to block e-mail :


Ask your admin to add the following to their sendmail.cf. This will reject all mail that continues to come in from domains that only send out spam. This is a group effort from many admins :

Modify your sendmail.cf in the following way.

1. Setup a hash table with the domains you wish to block:

# Bad domains (spam kings)


2. Add the following rules to S98 (be sure that there are three lines (i.e. the lines are not split up) and be sure to put a TAB character between the $* and the $#error, not a space) :

### Spam blockage

R$* @$*$=K . $* $#error $@ 5.1.3 $: "Your domain has been blocked due to spam problems. Contact your administrator."

R$* @$*$=K $* $#error $@ 5.1.3 $: "Your domain has been blocked due to spam problems. Contact your administrator."

3. Make your hash table. Here are some suggestions :























Mail that comes in from any of these domains will be returned to sender with the error. If the sender is bogus, it will bother the postmaster at the bad domain in an appropriate manner.

Keep in mind that *ALL* email from these domains will be blocked. This is really only a good solution for domains that are setup by spammers for spamming. Blocking something like aol.com, although it may seem initially attractive ;-), would cause problems for legitimate users of email in that domain. Compile your list after careful verification that these domains fit the above description.



Origins of Spam


The history of calling inappropriate postings in great numbers "Spam" is from a Monty Python skit (yes, it is very silly... see http://www.ironworks.com/comedy/python/spam.htm ) where a couple go into a restaurant, and the wife tries to get something other than Spam. In the background are a bunch of Vikings that sing the praises of Spam. Pretty soon the only thing you can hear in the skit is the word "Spam". That same idea would happen to the Internet if large scale inappropriate postings were allowed. You couldn't pick the real postings out from the Spam.

Bob's alternate view is that SPAM is an acronym for Send Phenomenal Amounts of Mail.

To join a discussion list for Spams, send a message to listserv@internet.com

In the body of the message type :

subscribe spamad your_name your_affiliation

Or a real mailing list for the discussion on spamming and about what is and/or isn't possible in dealing with this problem. If you would like to join the mailing list send mail to majordomo@psc.edu with the following message in the body :

subscribe spam-list [preferred address]

Black listed Internet Advertisers :

http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~axel/BL/ (Europe)


http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~cbrown/BL/ (USA)

First off, the only CORRECT way to "Spam" the net :

Show SPAM Gifts http://wolf.co.net/spamgift/index.html

Or for the free SPAM recipe Book ($1.00 postage and handling) :

SPAM recipe Book, P.O. Box 5000, Austin, MN 55912

Or for SPAM merchandise and apparel call 1-800-LUV-SPAM

The Church of Spam :


There is also a letter circulating about "dying boy wants postcards" (Craig Shergold) which is no longer true. Same as with the Blue Star LSD addicting children hoax. See Urban Folklore FAQ at :



A complete Urban Legends listings (It is big) :


There has been some discussion that such things should be canceled because they exceed the BI 20 index. They are untrue and they waste bandwidth.

How *did* I get this unsolicited e-mail anyway?


Unfortunately just posting a message to a news group can get unsolicited e-mail. Some spammers "harvest" e-mail addresses by stripping e-mail return addresses out of messages people post. Try posting to alt.test a few times. You will get not only a few autoresponder messages (that is how it is *supposed* to work) but also a few unsolicited pieces of e-mail.

Another way to get e-mail is to have a World Wide Web page. Some spammers just start a web spider (a piece of software that just traverses World Wide Web pages and collects information) going and collect e-mail that way. A suggestion of some nasty little HTML items to have in your WWW page (invisible, of course) are :

A HREF="mailto:root@[]"/a

or if your server allows "server-side includes" (and .shtml) :

a href="mailto:abuse@!--#echo var="REMOTE_ADDR"-- "anti spambot/a

Also you might include a mail to news gateway like the following so that the Spam is posted to Usenet :

A HREF="mailto:news.admin.net-abuse.email@myriad.alias.net"/a


A HREF="mailto:news.admin.net-abuse.misc@myriad.alias.net"/a


A HREF="mailto:news.admin.net-abuse.usenet@myriad.alias.net"/a

Note : You should note on your World Wide Web page that these links should *not* be followed by Lynx users, as they will see them no matter how you choose not to display them on a graphical interface. The last few in the below list are particularly not nice as they execute commands on a UNIX host. Substitute root@[] with any of the following :

postmaster abuse root admin postmaster@localhost abuse@localhost root@localhost admin@localhost postmaster@loopback abuse@loopback root@loopback admin@loopback

`cat /dev/zero /tmp/...`@localhost

;cat /dev/zero /tmp/...;@localhost

`umount /tmp`@localhost

;umount /tmp;@localhost



The MMF (Make Money Fast) Posts or any fraud on the Internet


For a list of countries where Make Money Fast is illegal see :


MMFs should be reported to the user and their postmaster and the following :

Federal Trade Commission Ms. Broder ( bbroder@ftc.gov ), the staff attorney assigned to handle MMF. f you have a question or comment regarding an antitrust or competition issue, please contact: antitrust@ftc.gov . If you have a complaint or comment regarding a consumer protection issue, please contact: consumerline@ftc.gov .

Fraud Department at the Internal Revenue Service net-abuse@nocs.insp.irs.gov

National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) nfic@internetmci.com (may not be working)

And the US Postal Inspection Service jcheezum@uspis.gov or rrbroadnax@uspis.gov

For more info on the Postal Chain Letters & where to send them, take a look at :


Complain reasonably politely with a copy of the USPS URL on MMFs. This stops 99%+ dead in their tracks. I've only had one person resist the full treatment of getting the USPS web page dropped in their mailbox - but their system admin fixed him up right quick :-

Please, only report MMFs in news.admin.net-abuse.misc if they're spam and you've seen it in lots of groups and / or the postmaster/user are defiantly stupid.

Rolf has created a page dedicated to making fun of MMF losers :


Or the MMF myth :


Keep track of On-Line Fraud, subscribe to the fraud discussion at :


To subscribe by email send a message to :


The body of the message to read :

join fraudnews

Hoaxes and scams :


Or for the latest scams :


Call 1-800-688-9889 for the phone and fax numbers of the federal law enforcement agencies near you.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission now has a web page specifically set up to take reports of financial scams promoted over the Internet. Basically, anything that involves promoting stocks, bonds, and such comes under their authority. A big fraction of the MAKE MONEY FAST postings fall in this category. For the full story see :

http://www.sec.gov/enforce/comctr.htm or Email: enforcement@sec.gov

Food and Drug Administration "Have you had a problem with a food, drug, cosmetic, medical device, radiation-emitting electronic product, or veterinary drug? Did it cause you an injury or was it insanitary or improperly labeled? Perform a public service and report the problem to the Food and Drug Administration." :


Also the FDA explains :

Complaints about the following should be made to the agencies listed. Consult your local telephone directory or public library for specific information.

o meat and poultry products: U.S. Department of Agriculture

o sanitation in restaurants and cafeterias: local or state health departments

o unsolicited products in the mail: U.S. Postal Service

o accidental poisonings: poison control centers or hospitals

o pesticides, air, and water pollution: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

o hazardous household products (including appliances, toys and chemicals): Consumer Product Safety Commission

o exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace: Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor

o advertising and warranties: Federal Trade Commission (except advertising for prescription drugs, which is regulated by FDA)

o dispensing and sales practices of pharmacies: State Board of Pharmacy

o medical practice: State Board of Healing Arts

There is a WWW site dedicated to *any* kind of fraud. It is :

A partnership of the National Association of Attorneys General, the Federal Trade Commission and The National Consumers League


Wolfgang sez :IMHO MMF is associated with "Hello, my name is Dave Rhodes. In 198...".

There was also a forged article purporting to tell how MMF is illegal :

From: purvis@hoover.fbi.gov (Melvin Purvis)

^^^^^^^^^^^^^ he arrested / shot John Dillinger.

Subject: 'Make Money Fast' Scam

Jon said : "Hermann" appears to have spammed at least 27 Bitnet mailing lists, including TANGO-L, where I saw it, with a standard MMF. I checked at the US Post Office web site and verified that chain letters are federal crimes under Title 18, United State Code, Section 1302. This does apply to email as well as paper; quoting from URL

From http://www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect/chainlet.htm :

"Recently, high-tech chain letters have begun surfacing. They may be disseminated over the Internet, or may require the copying and mailing of computer disks rather than paper. Regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme, if the mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal."

To find your nearest postal inspector in the USA, see URL


California MMF law :


I believe that the applicable Canadian description can be found at :


[French language version]


[English language version]


And from the Canadian Department of Justice server (
http://canada.justice.gc.ca/ ):

RELATION TO COMPETITION - Definition of "scheme of pyramid
selling" - Section 55.1



206. (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years who . . .

Pyramid Schemes

55.1 (1) For the purposes of this section, "scheme of pyramid selling" means a multi-level marketing plan whereby ...

The law in Australia and where to send complaints to :


Ministry of Fair Trading

P O Box 6355



1-900, 1-800 and 1-809 may be expensive long distance phone calls


Be very careful when dialing a 1-800 or a long distance number you are not familiar with. It may end up being a very expensive mistake. Remember to dial these numbers from a phone booth so that your home phone will never be charged.

All 1-800 numbers are *not* free. See below.

Likewise, numbers that may "look" like they are United States long distance phone numbers may in fact be out of country and may cost you $25 or more for a couple of minutes call. These calls are not refundable. A scam artist trying to get money from the phone calls (he gets a skim off the top) was dialing random beepers with an out of country number.

Some area codes to look for :

1-809-XXX-XXXX - Virgin Islands and other Caribbean islands

1-242-XXX-XXXX - Bahamas

1-246-XXX-XXXX - Barbados

1-441-XXX-XXXX - Bermuda

1-787-XXX-XXXX - Puerto Rico

If the ad says "Procall", it is a large service bureau for 1-900 numbers in Arizona. When you call a pay-per-call number, there should be a recorded intro that will give a customer service number. That *should* connect with a live person.

I would like to thank Eileen at the FTC for kindly answering my questions about 1-900 & 1-800 phone numbers.

Paraphrasing what she e-mailed me :

When a 1-900 number is advertised, the price must also be disclosed (this may be found at 16 CFR Part 308).

When calling a 1-800 number that charges, there must be an existing subscription agreement between the buyer and the seller

http://www.ftc.gov/ Federal Trade Commission Home Page

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/telemark/rule.htm Telemarketing Sales Rule

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/telemark/telesale.htm Telemarketing Sales Rule

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/ Online Scams

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/fraud.htm Reporting fraud

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/conline.html Consumer Line

(from the "Online Scams page)

For More Information

If you have a question or complaint about a suspect online ad or promotion, contact your commercial service provider. In addition, you can file complaints with your state attorney general, consumer protection office or with the Federal Trade Commission (write to: Correspondence Branch, Federal Trade Commission, 6th St. & Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580). Also, contact the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, 845 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022.

Questions about whether or not an investment sales person is licensed, or if an offered security is registered, should be directed to the Office of Consumer Affairs, Securities and Exchange Commission, 202-942-7040.

The National Fraud Information Center maintains a toll-free Consumer Assistance Service, 1-800-876-7060, to provide consumers with answers to questions about telephone or mail solicitations and online scams. They also offer information about how and where to report fraud and give help in filing complaints.

Or fill out an on-line scam sheet :


Or E-Mail to nfic@internetMCI.com in the form :

Your Name:

Your email address:



NFIC tells us:

We will try to respond as quickly as possible. We will not be able to respond if you have not included your e-mail address.

If you wish to inform us of an incident, please provide us with information about the company, the incident, your name and a snail mail address at which you can be reached. Thank you.

Please, do not use this service to relay confidential information!

The Better Business Bureau has a web site at:


To give feedback, go directly to:


How To Respond to SPAM


Howard reminds us :

Note to all: NEVER followup to a spam. NEVER. Express your indignation in mail to the poster and/or the postmaster@offending.site, but NEVER in the newsgroups!

Karen asks:

But what about the newbies who look at a group, see lots of spam and ads, see NO posts decrying them, and conclude that ads are therefore OK?

Ran replies :

When it gets bad, you'll usually see some "What can we do about this?" threads. That's a good place to attach a reply that tells people why it's bad, and what they can, in fact, do.

Austin Suggests:

At the risk of attracting flames, let me suggest an exception to Howard's law. A followup is allowed if the following 3 conditions hold.

1) The offending article is clearly a SCAM (for instance, the *Canada* calls with the Seychelles Islands phone # scam)

2) No one else has followed-up with a posting identifying it as a scam (in other words, no 'Me too' warnings)

3) It is unlikely to be canceled soon, either because it seems to be below the thresholds, or it is in a local hierarchy that doesn't get cancels, or Chris Lewis is on vacation in the Seychelles Islands. If all three conditions are met, a followup that X's out the contact information , severely trims the contents and identifies the post as a scam is exempt from Howard's law.


Bill's and Wolfgang's addition :

4) Follow-ups should be cross posted to news.admin.net-abuse.misc _and_ the groups of the spam, but Followup-To: *MUST* be set to news.admin.net-abuse.misc *ONLY*


post a follow-up and *SET* Followup-To: alt.dev.null.

In the first case change

Subject: Important FREE $$$


Subject: SPAM (was Re: Important FREE $$$)

and include the original Newsgroups and Message-ID line, so the professional despammers will immediately find what you're talking about. Do not post unless you're absolutely sure that you can do all that properly. Also 1) - 3) do apply.

If you see the same article with different Message-IDs in several groups, collect the _complete_ headers of each article and check news.admin.net-abuse.misc if it's already been reported. If not, start a thread with Subject: SPAM (was Re: original Subject) in news.admin.net-abuse.misc. Include all of the headers and as much of the body of one article as you see fit.

Revenge - What to do & not to do


No matter how much we hate Spam and how much we dislike what the spammers to our quiet little corner of the Universe known as the Internet, Spam is not illegal (yet). If you try anything against the spammers, please * do not * put yourself in risk of breaking the law. It only makes them happy if you get in trouble because you were trying to get back at them.

The reason why spammers use "throwaway" accounts is because they know the e-mail account will be deleted. They usually provide either another e-mail address or a name / phone number or postal address so that prospective "customers" can be contacted. Be sure to complain to the postmaster of all e-mail names provided to make sure that this route is inhibited.

Telephoning someone


Calling someone once is fine. If enough people are pissed at the spammer and they all call the 1-800 number the spammer provides, the spammer will get the idea (sooner or later) that it is costing them more in irate people (and most especially loss of business) and it is not worth it to spam.

Do not dial any phone numbers more than once from your home. Phone harassment is * illegal * and you * can * be prosecuted in court for this. Even tho' *67 prevents your number from being displayed on their telephone at home if they have caller ID, *57 will give the phone company the number. If it is a 1-800 number there are two problems. First they can *always* get your phone number, and secondly it may *not* be a toll free number. You may be charged for calling a 1-800 number.

Likewise, do not call collect using 1-800-COLLECT or 1-800-CALL-ATT from home, once again this can be traced.

Austin comments : I would say that calling a listed non-800 number *once* collect to voice a complaint is not harassment, but justified. They sent you a postage due message, didn't they? If they don't want to accept collect calls, they should say so - and if they do, you should be a responsible person and not do it again.

AT&T Information for 1-800 numbers is 1-800-555-1212, but that only helps if you know the company name you are trying to call. Also, you can try searching for a 1-800 number (you do not have to know the company name) at :



http://www.tollfree.att.net/dir800/advsea.html (advanced search options).

Other telephone search mechanisms:





Snail Mailing someone


Likewise, one well thought out letter sent to the spammer might help convince the spammer not to do this again. Especially if the spammer was part of a corporation that didn't realize the detrimental effects of spamming the Internet.

If you decide to deluge the spammers postal address by filling out one or two "bingo" (popcorn) postage paid cards in the technical magazines (by circling a few dozen "product info" requests per card & putting on printed out self sticking labels with the spammers address), or by putting preprinted labels on postage paid cards that come in the mail in the little plastic packages, don't organize a public campaign (that they can point to) against the spammer in the newsgroup.

Scott also reminds us :

Since this is the "Spam FAQ", I'd like to point this out: You're basically Spamming the company offering information in a magazine. It costs companies money, not the one you're spamming. They get a free pile of junk which is easy to throw out. In other words, this may be harming third parties more than the intended target. I'm not trying to be Mr. Nice Guy, just trying to point out an important technicality.

Junk Mail - The Law :

http://www.vtwctr.org/casewatch/ - 'Lectric Law Library

You should also read Title 47 of the United States Code, Section 227. There is a FAQ at cornell.law.edu for the text of the law (gopher or ftp or http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/47/227.html ), and you can use DejaNews to read the USC 47 thread on news.admin.net-abuse.misc to make up your own mind (it invariably comes up) or you can look at :


In Washington (State) (for example) fax laws (RCW 80.36.540 - Telefacsimile messages) define "telefacsimile message" in such a way that could be interpreted to include E-mail. It was not originally written to cover E-Mail, but that is for the courts to decide :-). California regulates it thru Section 17538(d) of the Business and Professions Code.

Organizing a campaign against the spammer in a news group could lead to the spammer trying to get a cease & desist police order against the organizers.

Disclaimer : I am not a lawyer, 80% of the Internet is bull, free advice is worth every penny you paid for it :-).


Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards for they are subtle and

quick to anger.

E-Mail - gandalf@digital.net - Gandalf The White O- Ken Hollis

WWW Page - http://digital.net/~gandalf/

WWW Trace E-Mail forgery - http://digital.net/~gandalf/spamfaq.html

WWW Trolls crossposts - http://digital.net/~gandalf/trollfaq.html

We Thank the author; (gandalf@digital.net) of this Page and feel it is the most informative Email and Spam tracing information we have found to date.

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