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Businesses Canada Crime Spam The Internet

Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Spammers You Know? 333

courteaudotbiz writes "For years, a business named Compu-Finder has been sending spam all around the province of Quebec, Canada. In their emails, there is a phone number where we can reach them, and an unsubscribe link that you can click and seems to work, but even after asking them on the phone, by email or with their unsubscribe link, to unsubscribe me, I still receive 10 — 15 spams a week coming from this company. Many bloggers, journalists and radio chroniclers talked about them, but they seem to be untouchable. Still, it is easy to find the names, addresses and phone numbers of the shareholders and administrators of the company. How can we, collectively, take action to make them understand that we do not like their mass mailing practice?"
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Spammers You Know?

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  • by NixieBunny ( 859050 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:49PM (#37986566) Homepage
    Document it thoroughly and submit a report to the authorities. If that doesn't work, go to their offices and switch off the main power panel a few times until they get the hint.
    • by Hanzie ( 16075 ) *

      I lock them in my basement, then Christopher Walken and I prank them.

    • If that doesn't work, go to their offices and switch off the main power panel a few times until they get the hint.

      Also helps against neighbours who play loud music in the middle of the night...

      • by mcavic ( 2007672 )
        I live in an apartment building where all of the master breakers are accessible, and I've often wanted to do that, but never had the balls.
    • Document it thoroughly and submit a report to the authorities. If that doesn't work, go to their offices and switch off the main power panel a few times until they get the hint.

      I was thinking more along the lines of thermite bomb on top of the main building transformer. Problem is that their servers are probably virtualized on some offshore blade farm.

      • No, their host is theplanet.com in texas. (do an nslookup on their latest site name theutraining.com - - they keep changing it, for obvious reasons).

        Report it to abuse@theplanet.com

    • ...If that doesn't work, go to their offices and switch off the main power panel a few times until they get the hint.

      Uhhh...yeah...speaking of "laws against that"...

    • Next time you send them an email or letter, be sure to CC your Attorney General.

  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:49PM (#37986568) Homepage Journal

    How can we, collectively, take action to make them understand that we do not like their mass mailing practice?

    Are you under the impression that spam continues because people think we like it? That if they only understood how much we don't like it, they would stop?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      How can we, collectively, take action to make them understand that we do not like their mass mailing practice?

      Are you under the impression that spam continues because people think we like it? That if they only understood how much we don't like it, they would stop?

      I just hope that doesn't mean you are one of the mindless masses who believes that spam is sent out purely to make people angry or waste their time. People of even moderate intellect realize that spam is all about money, and the only way to stop the spam is to stop the flow of money to the spammers - or at least make it more difficult for them to get so much money so easily.

      • I always wondered who would even read a spam message, let alone respond to it. Has anyone here ever met someone who bought something off a spam email? Someone must be doing it, I just can't imagine who.

        • The issue with spam is that it is so cheap that even incredibly low rates of return can still be profitable. Like one in a million rates of return, or even the prospect of one day getting a single hit.

        • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

          People fall for those Nigerian prince scams a few times per year.. reasonable to expect if someone can fall for that, someone can fall for anything. More importantly, the cost per spam is so cheap that even if you only get a few people per million emails, you probably make money.

        • Commerce isn't the majority of spam these days... most of it (that I've ever seen that is) is worm chatter. Bots trying to spread the infection.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Alternatively, make their expenses exceed the income or make the degradation to their quality of life exceed the value they derive (tell their kids "your daddy is a dirty spammer and the whole world hates him").

        One must be careful not to cross any legal boundaries, but that leaves plenty of room for a bit of personal feedback when you know their physical location.

    • Correct. It continues because they think it is effective.

      Contact the group being advertised for.
      Tell them you will not use their services, explain why (including the firm).
      Don't use their services.

      • by The_K4 ( 627653 )
        It continues because they think it is effective. I'm sure they can see if it's making them money and therefore effective. Until something happens that causes them to lose money it is effective for them.
        • by pugugly ( 152978 )

          Thus the issue is being handled at the wrong end. Create a spam system yourself, and spam Quebec. Some small number of people will respond positively to your campaign. Use the profits from the campaign to hire assassins and have those people killed.

          When you can no longer afford to hire killers to eliminate people that respond positively to spam, the problem will have been defacto resolved.

          In order to eliminate ethical concerns, this process should probably be automated - otherwise the profits might actually

      • by wisty ( 1335733 )

        1) Start a business.
        2) Send spam, ostensibly advertising your competitors.
        3) ... ?
        4) Profit!

      • True. The thing with spam, like much advertising, is that it's based on wishful thinking and something almost like superstition. They spend money on advertising, and unless they're a huge megacorporation doing serious market research, they just sort of hope that it pays off. Unless there is a big dive in profits that correlates with a marketing campaign, ideally with many angry letters to give the marketroids a hint at what's going on, they'll assume it's all hunky-dory.

        They spam, profits are roughly the sa

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        You can even take the "think" out of there..

        Spam is effective because it's ultra cheap and there are just enough people who will go for it.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        I have done this once or twice. Its amazing how much people don't get it when you call up complaining about their advertising practices.

        Generally the people willing to advertise with spam are of the opinion that, if you don't want their service, you should just hit delete, and not call them.

      • by gmack ( 197796 )

        Report them to their ISP.

    • Set up a filter that forwards all the messages to the shareholders and administrators.
    • How can we, collectively, take action to make them understand that we do not like their mass mailing practice?

      Are you under the impression that spam continues because people think we like it? That if they only understood how much we don't like it, they would stop?

      Are you under the impression that spam continues for the fun of it, just to annoy people?

      Root cause analysis my friend. There would be no spam if there were not plenty of idiots still generating click revenue behind it.

    • by Onymous Coward ( 97719 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @02:30PM (#37988086) Homepage

      Rather, his request is a thinly-veiled plea for vigilante/mass action from the Slashdot community. That kind of making them understand.

      Like calling 1.800.861.6618 [theutraining.com] or emailing them at conseil@theumanage.com [mailto] (ooh, that's the first time I've made a mailto link in a /. discussion — wonder if it'll work) or at conseil@www.cfcible.com [mailto], or just visiting their website a bunch.

      Which could actually happen, I wouldn't be surprised. I stand by, curiously awaiting report of the results.

  • by gearloos ( 816828 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:50PM (#37986578)
    Usually having a phone number is great!... for the spammers. It now gives them another reference for you and more info to sell and abuse. as for unsubscribing, well, that just shows them that a live human actually is at that address and reading email from spammers.. Goldstrike if you called and unsubscribed.
    • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:18PM (#37987142) Journal
      Why was this modded down? It's all too true. Don't unsubscribe, don't call. All that does is confirm that you look at their spam. Mark the offending messages as spam, and filter them out, that's all.
    • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:32PM (#37987346)

      as for unsubscribing, well, that just shows them that a live human actually is at that address and reading email from spammers.. Goldstrike if you called and unsubscribed.

      If they use the unsubscribe link in order to actively maintain you on their list, that smells like fraud to me.

      Remember that something doesn't have to be in direct contravention of your country's Data Protection Act (or equivalent) to be spam -- contract law still holds, and if they offer a way to unsubscribe, you take it and they don't unsubscribe you, that's a breach of agreed terms.

      • by cdrguru ( 88047 )

        Yes, and considering the value of the relationship you can sue to collect your $0. The "agreed terms" are certainly being abrogated but you do not have anything of value happening here.

        A court is more likely to fine you for wasting their time.

      • Unfortunately I don't think there is any sort of contract created by clicking/following an unsubscribe link. No exchange of goods or services or money, etc (consideration).
              Mind you I'm not a lawyer or any sort of professional legal person and am going on my limited knowledge of US law, maybe Canada is different or there is something I'm not aware of.

    • by richlv ( 778496 )

      actually, they somehow seem not to like when people call them. i usually look up some number, cal it. i start with "hi, do you receive spam ?" - "um... yes" (who doesn't ?) - "do you like it ?" - "...no" (some get suspicious here, some don't) - "then why do you send spam ?"

      and here i take some time to rant about spam. sometimes they are very like "sorry" and such, then i just rant for a while. sometimes they are aggressive and go like "what's your problem, just delete it" - then i become slightly more rude,

  • with pitchforks and torches
  • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:50PM (#37986586) Homepage Journal

    Really, it's the only way to get through to some people.

  • Add a entry in your mail server to drop everything from their netblock. Better yet, block them at your DNS, too.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:51PM (#37986622)

    Publicise the names and personal details of their CEO and board of directors.
    Subscribe their email addresses to every spam product and service you can find.

  • Have you considered contacting your ISP and asking them to filter that sender domain?
  • by what2123 ( 1116571 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @12:55PM (#37986692)
    I can speak on this company from a first hand account. I work for an ESP, I actually manage all our mail servers and work closely with ISPs and mail vendors to help out GOOD CLIENTS. I say this because Compu-Finder (although they have an official name that is different) was a client of ours. They were a BAD-CLIENT. We have many tools that are in place to help our clients ensure that best practices are followed as well as easily available to contacts of the client, e.g opt-outs and suppressing those contacts from future emails. Compu-Finder did everything they could to get around built in mechanisms to keep "contacts" subscribed. Well Finally after battling with them on changing their practices we finally fired them. They are the kind of company that makes me cringe because I know there are real, legitimate, marketers out there that do use email to engage clients and keep them up-to-date but they are the ones that make it bad for any sender.
    • by fifedrum ( 611338 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:00PM (#37986796) Journal

      and I work on the other end, supporting a few million email accounts. I like ESPs like you, because you work diligently to keep your senders on the up and up, but this scumbag will just move on to some other ESP, or worse, start connecting with hosted email providers like us, and spam from there.

      There is no way to defend against it EXCEPT to put their phone numbers and domains in black lists from the start. That, and as per a suggestion above, kill it with fire.

      • You should be familiar with MAAWG then. I am a committee member and one major point that comes up with is Vetting. For the most part, we are attempting to have ESPs have an open network of communication regarding business that are known as bad or corrupt in some form and literally BAN them from sending from a MAAWG member. This of course isn't live or current yet but eventually it could work to promote much better sending via known, good ESPs, not the fly-by-sender ESPs that exist everywhere.
  • Have you considered taking them to court?

    Or you could just filter or even tarpit their mail servers and forget about it. If you use free webmail just click the spam button on each mail and sooner or later they will get blocked.

    I think there are a few companies like that. I get constant spam from a bunch of jokers calling themselves clubline football.

  • Naturally, you want to use the CAN-SPAM act, and send it to spam@uce.gov.

    Oh, wait, you wanted something effective, didn't you?

    If you want to fight spam effectively you need to focus on the prime motivation behind spam - money. Spam is sent out because people make money sending it out. Ordinarily spam is sent out by a company other than the spamvertised company, which gives you a few more avenues to explore. There are, however, a few things you can still look into.

    First, who is the registrar behind
    • The CAN-SPAM act loses what little punch it has as soon as you cross the state line from New York into Quebec . . .

    • by Sancho ( 17056 ) *

      The first sentence of the summary says

      For years, a business named Compu-Finder has been sending spam all around the province of Quebec, Canada

      Is CAN-SPAM Canadian?

  • cosumer rights here are shit. Get some signs, friends and park your ass at their door. Piitch forks could be used if not enough sings are available.

    • Re:This is Canada (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:08PM (#37986938)

      Ah, but it's Quebec.

      Make sure they follow the language laws, if not, report them to the language police. They're apparently quite vicious.

      Also, Quebec has very special status in Canada since they basically want to do everything themselves and only give token attention to Ottawa (they have their own sales tax - QST, that the Harper Government (tm) is paying $4B or so for them to change it to an "H" to implement the HST which would do the same thing). Quebec can easily make it very hard for a business that's not obeying its laws to do business inside Quebec, even if they're not in Quebec.

      It's why in Canada there's lots of things that are "excluding Quebec" - not just sweepstakes/lottos/etc, but also products that basically are unavailable to be shipped to Quebec. They have the requisite French, but they don't meet some other part of Quebec law and are therefore disallowed.

      • Quebec has a special legal status in Canada because Canada is still, last I checked, a federation.

        That being said, Francophones are welcoming, friendly people. Some people live here without ever uttering a French word and Quebecois go out of their way to accommodate them. Those who want to learn French are actually annoyed by it.

        Montreal is a truly multicultural city, and every small culture is free to express itself, in all manners, restaurants, soccer team fans, and they are and do feel appreciated.

        Look a

  • Small claims courts are easier if you're a local. There's no way I could sue them, but you could.

  • by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:01PM (#37986804) Homepage

    Just block their domain and get on with your life. If you value your time at, say, $20/hr, how much are you willing to spend in order to get nothing in return?

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:09PM (#37986970) Homepage

      Ironically, getting nothing is exactly what he wants. It's funny how much time we spend trying to get people to stop wasting our time.

    • by Nanoda ( 591299 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:17PM (#37987136)

      After all the spam I've gotten in the past ~15 years? If I found out there was a spammer in my own city, I'd be willing to spend at least a couple of evenings trying to shut them down.

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:51PM (#37987614)

      If all you are interested in is money, then indeed the best thing is to do nothing. If however you value other things, then the return might be worth it.

      Not everything can be easily calculated in an amount of dollars.

    • by Onymous Coward ( 97719 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @02:01PM (#37987742) Homepage

      At first glance we see this is the personally efficient way to handle the situation. Block their mail and move on. But then we might wonder if we're being a little selfish, not engaging our computer skills to help out others, the many others who are negatively affected by this spam. A little altruism is generally recognized as a noble thing...

      This could lead us to thinking about the systems that have been developed for reporting spam, how individuals have been empowered to spend little effort in reporting, and how, when summed, that individually trivial effort, of thousands and thousands of people, collectively makes powerful anti-spam effect.

      Then maybe we complete the circle, realizing that we are the beneficiaries of these powerful anti-spam systems, that our time is greatly saved by these systems, and that we are not just being altruistic in our contributions, we are helping ourselves.

      The personally efficient way to handle many things is this way, being helpful to the larger community that you are by nature a member of, and personally capitalizing on the beneficial effects of the economies of scale and other mass dynamics/synergistic effects.

      This is where selfishness meets altruism. So, why not help others, when you are really helping yourself?

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      Just block their domain and get on with your life. If you value your time at, say, $20/hr, how much are you willing to spend in order to get nothing in return?

      The satisfaction of seing a spammer ruined would be worth several hours of my time for me. Sure it is pure and evil revenge. However, doing to them the only thing that makes them stop is... well, the only road you can take to eventually make them stop.

      Blocking their domain seems like the low-cost solution. Until you realize that you need to block not only their domain, but hundreds of others as well. Increasing the risk of spamming by making them pay, on the other hand, has effects beyond the one you sued o

  • I heard on IRC that they use pirated software to spam, although I have no first hand knowledge or documentation. Are there not paramilitary heavily armed SWAT team like organizations that break down doors, like we have in the land-of-the-unfree to your south?

    Also CP is sold by spammers, and they are spammers, so they probably traffic in CP, correct? The legal system loves to bust CP distributors.

  • I've had the issues as the original poster. So, about 6 years ago, when I was about to change email addresses anyway, I signed up for an account at Spamgourmet.com [spamgourmet.com]. I hoped that I would never need to worry about unsubscribing again.

    It works perfectly. I place unique characters in every address that I give out online. The first 'n' messages to a particular address get forwarded to my main address. After that, they get eaten by spamgourmet. I have to manually increase the limit or designate an exclusive

    • Another Thumbs up for SPAMGOURMET, every vendor gets their own, count limited, email address. (alternatively, an unlimited exclusive sender so discship@netflix always comes through and I don't have to keep resetting the count) This lets me know when and to whom they sell the address. Good Stuff. You can even download the code and set up your own relay if you are a corporation and want to provide a similar server for your users under your own control.
    • Thats a pretty cool idea, but from looking over their site, It seems a little flawed. This only works so long as everybody else is ignorant to the existence of spamgourmet. If somebody was to realize what was up, they could take your frombigcorp.3.spacecowboy@spamgourmet and instead just send it to frombigcorp.20.spacecowboy@spamgourmet, you don't really have much control over that part. It only works if the person treats the email as a normal verbatim email. I can pretty easily write a script that takes an
  • by cronos1013 ( 1412777 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:08PM (#37986930) Journal
    There is a simple and SUPER fun way to combat this. Get the google toolbar with auto fill for forms, and sign up for every free thing on the market you can with their address. This was done to a spammer a couple years back in the US and I guess once your postal mail volume reaches a certain ammount they stop delivering it, and bill you if you dont pick it up. If 10000 people sign them up for 1000 deliveries of junk real mail, they might get the picture. Maybe....
  • by wintercolby ( 1117427 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ybloc.retniw'> on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:10PM (#37986978)
    I got a call from a telemarketer on my cell phone at 3AM one day. I called the number back and found that it was a standard voice/prompt setup. I randomly dialed buttons until I got to a dial by extension choice. I then dialed every extension I could think of, leaving voicemails on every line, stating that the next time I get called on my cell phone at 3AM I would sue the company out of existence. Where I live the law is on my side on this, it is illegal to call before 9AM or after 7PM here. It must have gotten through to one of the people I left a voicemail for, because they never called again. Harass them more than they harassed you by wasting their time, and they'll find a way to stay out of contact with you.

    And never, ever, ever click unsubscribe from anyone but the most reputable companies. It lets the spammers know that someone at that address actually reads those emails, and they don't mind sharing it with their sister companies.
  • Has Spamhaus never heard of these people? How about other spam blockers? If you ISP isn't subscribing to blocklists then maybe your issue is with them.
  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @01:17PM (#37987112) Homepage
    There are some people or companies that will clean up their act when they have been sued. Sometimes it takes more.

    Within a week after I had been contacted by one drug spammer that I sued, my spam load went down by 50%.

    Another Spammer I sued, put in place a strong anti-spam policy and apparently quite effective.

    When I went after Avtech Direct (Arlene Sediqzad and Gary Hunziker ) for spamming, I also helped arrange 21 lawsuits against them. After this was over, Sediqzad told me she wish she never heard of e-mail, and had not heard of it until Gary Hunziker got her into using it. Another spammer, Robert Smoley [sun-sentinel.com], stopped, only because he was charged, pled guilty, and sentenced to 40 months. They also seized over $40M of money and property from him. I think that is one of my most productive 45 minute phone calls with an IRS agent ever.

    But this company you talk to is like Smoley, or Ralsky who needs to be sued multiple times or imprisoned for a while before they stop spamming.

  • Make sure every Spammer and their dog knows their business email address. And keep an eye open for changes to follow suit.

  • Then the harassment will stop.

    We need a few examples made.

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      Nah, firebombs are too impersonal, and then you need a message sent out of band...messy.

      Far better to do it up Cartel style...find them... leave them hanging from bridges, with the word "Spammer" cut crudely into their flesh.

      It may be tempting to scrap "OPT OUT" followed by your email address... but this is not recommended for reasons that are left as an exercise for the reader.

      Which is not to say the former action is recommended, mind you. However, I am pretty sure that I wouldn't cry over the brutal loss

  • Or, even better, if you can get their fax number how about full-color Goatse in the mail or by fax? By email too, but Goatse coming out of a fax machine seems like it would be a nice gift to send them.

  • I read about someone who responded to them with a carefully written contract, saying that they have the email address for business purposes, and by emailing him at that address, they were entering into a business relationship with him. In doing so, they were liable for his billing purposes, and that every email would be billed at his normal billing, in hour increments.

    And that continuing to email him was considered an agreement of terms. And ask them to kindly provide their billing address.... and legal ser

    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      One should go one step further. The problem with your proposal is that a free speech argument would be made. You are not offering a service to the individual, and there is no way that receiving any kind of mail is going to be counted as a service by any court. You need to supply a service to the spammer.

      Ad to your letter that one of the services that your business provides is "marketing consulting", and that the address they are sending the spam to is the evaluation request address. Thus, by submitti
  • It rhymes with "shmashmit shmurder".

  • You can report them to the state attorney general. I've heard of auto-dialer companies that were shut down recently by the attorney general's office.
  • FightSpam.gc.ca [fightspam.gc.ca]

    The legislation hasn't been passed yet, but it's on the table.

    • by rgviza ( 1303161 )
      I thought Canada had an opt-in rule. I used to work for a major bank and we weren't allowed to send email to Canadians until they opted in. In the US you can send spam until they opt-out. I have no idea whether or not the rules are enforced or violators get fined up there, but that's the law as it was explained to me by the legal department at the bank when the opt-in law in Canada was passed.
  • Sue them! That's the American way! Or do Le Québécois not think they are in North America?

  • I do not recommend posting their mailbox address on Slashdot. And if someone were to do so, I do not recommend subscribing their office to all sorts of catalogs and junk mail subscriptions. That would be irresponsible!
  • precision orbital strike come to mind... but in all seriousness, as i work at a hosting company, just give theirs a call and detail the problem.

    heres a little snip from the mx for the domain...
    220-crescent.web-dns1.com ESMTP Exim 4.69 #1 Tue, 08 Nov 2011 13:15:43 -0500
    220-We do not authorize the use of this system to transport unsolicited,
    220 and/or bulk e-mail.
  • by yotto ( 590067 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:17PM (#37994984) Homepage

    Send them an email, carboned to every email address for everybody in the company you can find. That email says something along the lines of:

    I am getting a large amount of spam emails from your company. I have tried normal channels to get them to stop, but they have actually gotten worse. I am appealing to you to put a halt to these emails. I will forward you examples of the emails I have received.

    Then set up an auto-forward rule that forwards every single spam to that same list, with the text:

    Here is an example of the spam I am receiving from your company. As I acquire more examples, I will forward them on as well.

    I bet they'll stop in a few days.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken