How to Tell We’re In a Recession

All the old cockroaches are crawling out of the woodwork to feed.

Incredibly, unbelievably, I’m actually starting to see spam from two of the Web’s former most notorious spammers, streamate.com and webpower.com again. Old-school spam fighters will doubtless recognize these names–porn sites notorious for their spamvertising back in the day, who’ve kept a (relatively) low profile for years. I can remember being flooded under an avalanche of spam from these guys like five or six years ago.

Well, they’re back. Just a trickle now–an email advertising live sexy Webcams here, a set of cloaked redirectors that hop from server to server to server before ending up on Webpower there–and it makes me wonder if times are getting tough in the porn spam business. Maybe there’s some belt-tightening happening, folks aren’t buying as many subscriptions to pay-for-play Webcam sites these days, the owners of the sites are wondering how they’re going to make the payments on their Ferraris…who knows.

Webpower is a particularly interesting case, in that kind of yucky “I study cockroaches for a living because I’m fascinated by insects that eat their own young” kind of way. They started out making a gadget to allow remote control of sex toys over the Internet–a program you’d run and a little box you’d plug your vibrator into. The box had a suction cup that would attach to your computer monitor, and the program would flash a colored square on the monitor to send commands to the vibrator.

They got out of that business pretty quick–I don’t think anyone’s really made a profit on Internet controlled sex toys yet–and started doing porn Webcams instead. Their Web front page doesn’t suggest anything about them–just says “WebPower is an internet services and infrastructure company with offices located on both the West Coast (San Francisco bay area) and East Coast (South Florida)” with links to a “web services division” and a “web conferencing division”–but their bread and butter is live cam sex, and they’ve been in the spam business for almost as long as spam has been around.

It’s amazing to see this particular blast from the past. I haven’t been spammed by these guys since about the time I started dating Shelly.

Anyone familiar with an outfit called Suavemente?

So lately, my inbox has been flooded with an unusually large amount of spam This spam is advertising Web sites with URLs such as klhrvbhqw dot com, hyaiocgsk dot com, dcghffxba dot com, and ipwbquigi dot com — you know, nonsensical domains made up of random letters, usually a sure bet that it’s a throwaway spam domain the spammer plans to use once for a single spam run and discard.

All of these domains are hosted at the same ISP, an outfit I’ve never heard of before called Suavemente.

Now, two things about Suavemente scream “bulletproof spam host” to me. The first is they didn’t bother to register the .com; their only URL is suavemente.net. The second is that they’re headquartered in the US, but their front page proudly screams High-speed offshore. In the world of ISPs, “offshore” normally means “we allow our users to violate American law, safe in the knowledge that their servers can not be subpoenaed or subject to American jurisdiction.”

So at first blush, Suavemente stinks of “owned by spammers, run by spammers for spammers.” However, I can’t find them on the usual compilations of known rogue ISPs; they are listed in the ISP hall of shame, but that’s about it.

And they respond to abuse complaints. They don’t respond by shutting down their spammers, but they do respond nonetheless. Text and headers of an email I just received from Suavemente’s abuse department

Spam poetry

“Harry potter loves hottie lover, who loves mighty shocker poker.”

Spam for yet another penis pill site (are there really people in the world who honestly believe that taking a pill can make one’s penis bigger? For real?), but the poetry is quite nice.

Come, let me introduce you to my mighty shocker poker!

Bizarre spam, now in Russian!

So I get an enormous amount of spam every day. About half the spam I get is in Russian, with another quarter (half the remaining) in English. The rest is more or less evenly divided among Spanish, Polish, French, Hebrew, and Arabic, in more or less that order.

Every now and then, something truly bizarre lands in my email. Case in point: this Russian language image spam, which as near as I can tell is an advert for a company that makes the gigantic rectal probes used by space aliens when they abduct human females and anally examine them. Cut for not-work-safeness

Eat your spam…and LIKE IT!!!

So over the past two weeks or so, this journal has been under constant attack by LiveJournal comment spammers; I’ve been averaging about 2-5 pieces of spam a day, mostly for penis enlargers, “herbal Viagra,” and tooth whiteners, in comments to various posts.

Interestingly, all the spamvertised Web sites are hosted by the same ISP: Sago Networks, an American Web hosting ISP located in Atlanta.

I’ve emailed the abuse team at Sago Networks repeatedly. They refuse to take action against their pet spammers unless LiveJournal actually provides them with the LJ server logs showing the placement of the spam.

Now, here’s the interesting thing. Sago Networks is headquartered right across the street from my office. I mean that literally; right across the street. You can see their building from my front door; they’re a ten-second walk away.

I woke up this morning to still more comment spam, all of it hosted by Sago. If this continues, I think I’ll walk over there and ask them in person why they like hosting spammers so much. (Not like I don’t already know the answer: money. It’s profitable to host spammers, at least in the short run.)

I’m thinking of putting a Spam Supporter Hall of Shame on my Web site, listing pro-spam outfits like Sago and Pipex (who do not consider Usenet spam to be “spam,” and permit their customers to spam Usenet newsgroups with impunity) and the email exchanges I’ve had with them, so people who don’t like spam supporters can make informed decisions about who to host with.

[EDIT] The Sago facility across the street from me is their data center. Their corporate headquarters are (ready for this?) in Tampa, about five minutes from my old Tampa office. They’re stalking me!

Spam subject line o’ the Day

“Stupidly polygamy.”


I get a lot of spam. I mean a lot of spam. I know everyone gets a lot of spam, but I get a quantity of spam every day that’s just quite unreal.

About two-thirds of the spam I get is in Russian. Of the remaining spam, a good bit of it is in French, a lot of it is in Spanish, some of it is in German, some of it is in Chinese, a little bit is in Italian, a little bit is in Polish, every so often I get the odd occasional bit of spam in Hebrew (usually advertising a Web site I can’t make hide nor hair of but featuring expensive American electronics and watches with large bold prices and bulleted lists), and today I got my first spam in Arabic.

I was puzzling about that a while ago. Yesterday, I started working on a new page for my polyamory site, which lists all the mirrors of the page tat have been translated into other languages, and it clicked.

I did a Google search for my name in non-English languages, and found translations of my poly pages in Russian, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, and Hebrew, each with an email link to my primary AOL address. This suggests that spammers are actually scraping email addresses from Web sites and taking note of the language tags in those Web sites, and selling the email addresses scraped from the non-English sites (probably at a premium) to people who spam in languages other than English.

Today’s Arabic spam puzzles me, though. I can’t find any mention of my name or email on any Arabic-language Web sites, at least not via Google.

Spam subject of the day

“SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:  aliphatic   coercion   amtrak”

Now, if you’re going to comply with the law and put the “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT” in your subject, why bother to use a hash-busting random word generator in the rest of the subject line? People who’re filtering spam are going to filter on the “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT” part of the subject line!

Unless it’s not random, and the spamvertised Web site really is about sexually explicit rape scenes involving organic compounds with an open-chain structure on trains…

…and if it is, man, there’s a kink I never knew about!