The return of Art Schwartz: a sordid tale

Many of you already know the backstory of this tale. Namely:

Periodically for the past couple of years, I and other readers of newsgroups like,, and the like have been spammed by a particularly slimy spammer named Art Schwartz, who collects email addresses from graphics-related newsgroups and spams his Web site,, where he says one can get Photoshop and other high-ticket graphics apps for $29.95. It’s a scam, of course; he’s a credit card fraudster, not a pirate, and those dumb enough to fall for the bait get (1) a list of pirate Web sites and (2) big credit card bills.

He’s been hosted by an outfit called Cove Software Systems (“Covesoft”) for years. Covesoft has for years ignored LARTs and permitted him to spam. Recently, as these sorts of outfits do, Covesoft went titsup and got bought by Superb Internet, the retail marketing arm of Hopone. So when some spam showed up in my main email address and one of my spamtrap addresses, I sent ’em along to Superb’s abuse address.

The next day, I get a rash of threatening emails, as documented here, from the spammer. Okay, that’s not cool–so I pick up the phone and have a nice long chat with a person at Superb who identified himself as the head of their abuse department.

The good bits:
The person I spoke to claimed Superb/Hopone have strict zero-tolerance spam policies. Okay, I ask, why is this Web site still up? We haven’t received any complaints, he says. Ah, but you have, I tell him, from me, on thus and such a date, with these headers–would you like me to send you the spam again? Oh, yes, we have received complaints, he says, but our policy is not to take any action unless we receive a number of complaints from different people. You have, I say–I can give you the email addresses of about a half-dozen Usenet readers who’ve LARTed you, there’s a conversation on one of the Photoshop newsgroups about it right now.

So then he says, Well, the official policy of my bosses is that as long as our customers pay their bills, they can do anything they want, so long as what they’re doing is not illegal and doesn’t get us into SPEWS or Spamhaus. Sez I, spamming addresses scraped from newsgroups is illegal, the CAN-SPAM law is right on point about this. You’re right, it is, I’ll pull the site right now, he says, and sure enough, stops resolving that afternoon.

Fast forward to earlier this week, when I get an email from in my mailbox. The email says We have put back online. If you feel this customer is doing something illegal, contact the police, not us. The business relationship between Hopone Internet and this customer is none of your business. Do not email us again.

So, just for the record: Hopone/Superb Internet are black-hat spam supporters. No reasonable person should touch them with a ten-foot pole–which is, of course, why you’ll find criminals like Art Schwartz using them.

The normal course of a spam-supporting business is to go bankrupst. When it happens to Hopone, it can’t be soon enough.