TWSD: Mail known spam trap addresses


One of the things we all “know” is that if spammers get their hands on spamtrap addresses then they’ll stop sending mail to those addresses. This is true for a lot of spammers, but sadly it’s not true for all.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I consult for all types of mailers, from those who just need a little tune up to those who want me to help them avoid filters and blocking. During some of these consulting projects, I use my own spam folder as research and provide information on the spam that I am receiving from them.
A few years ago I was working with a company who hires a lot of different affiliates to send acquisition email. A few of their affiliates had really poor practices and they were trying to figure out which affiliates were the problem. I handed over a number of mails from my personal spam traps, in order to help them identify the problem affiliate.
I told them, and their affiliate, what my spamtrap addresses were. And, for many years I stopped receiving that particular spam. But, over the last few weeks I’ve seen a significant uptick in spam advertising my former client.
I’m certainly not trying to convince anyone that handing over spamtraps is a good thing. But there is at least some evidence out there that they’re not even competent enough to permanently remove traps. I really have to wonder at how sloppy some marketers are, too, that they’ll hire spammers and not at least hand over a list of addresses they know are bad addresses to mail.
I really thought spammers were smarter than that. I am, apparently, wrong.
EDIT: Of course, mailing this spamtrap gets them nothing but a little ranty blog post here. It doesn’t result in blocking, or disconnection from their ISP or their ESP or anything else. I suspect if there was actually an affect, like, say, I started forwarding this mail to Spamhaus or other filtering companies, they might stop mailing this address. Anyone want a 20 year old, slightly used spam trap?

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  • It’s a good story, and I’m not going to disagree with it. ‘Probably scumbags’ is probably the right call.
    But let me play devil’s advocate for a minute: the reason why spamtraps, once compromised, are considered less useful is still valid: a pure spamtrap receives pure spam, but a compromised spamtrap could receive spam that was submitted by the compromisee to the competing affiliate they’re trying to discredit, or by the vengeful ex-employee, or by the wanabee-spamfighter who now knows that this spamtrap is connected to somebody important enough to have their voice heard — I mean, that whole “subscribe some important antispam person to this bullshit single-opt-in list” thing has been going on since before I got into this game in 1999, so as far as tactics go, it’s ancient in Internet Time.
    A spamtrap that has been compromised CAN be a useful tool to the bad guys, assuming that it touches somebody intelligent., And since you can’t know, you kind of have to assume that it has.
    Besides, if these guys ARE probably scumbags, there’s probably other evidence than the compromised spamtrap. Use THAT to convict ’em.

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