Classic Spam: Tassel-loafer spammers

Some years back, after the near-collapse of the "new economy" with all its squandered promises of new ways of doing business, we saw an emerging group of spam entrepreneurs who decided that the best thing to do with the global internet was simply to turn it into their own personal billboard, with space for rent to gullible businesses who think that clogging the backbone with junk mail is a Great Marketing Concept.

The message was sent by a slick spam gang at, and is but one of dozens that I received from this mailer (or one of its associated operations such as Intervolved or EmailOffersOnDemand) without ever having given my permission or responded in any way. The message wasn't forged as far as I could tell, but it did include all kinds of links to verify my e-mail address, in addition to beacon images for tracking and a well-knotted skein of funny numbers in CGI calls. The GiantRewards website had a "no-spam" logo which, if clicked on, led you to a rather vague and circumlocutory privacy policy.

The fact that it took numerous complaints by hundreds of spam victims over many months to dislodge the GiantRewards people indicates that they were pretty well connected with their upstream provider, Level 3 Communications, which apparently chose for a very long time not to enforce their otherwise adequate anti-spam policies in this case. According to, any reports you made to Level 3 were simply thrown over the transom to GiantRewards, which no doubt extracted your address for their databases and ignored your removal request. This sort of chicanery is an excellent reason for using "blind" reporting such as that provided by SpamCop, in which your address is not exposed to the recipients of your reports while still giving them an e-mail link through which to contact you directly if required.

In their day, GiantRewards apparently knew how to wear gray suits and shiny shoes to a customer pitch, and to say the kinds of things that otherwise rational businesspeople were dying to hear about the vast commercial potential of the internet and e-mail marketing. They managed to hook a variety of famous brand names as customers, including Starbucks Coffee, The Sharper Image, Columbia House, BMG Music Service, Ramada Plaza Resorts, and (as here) Cross Pens, no doubt touting their "targeted 100% opt-in" mailing lists.

These guys didn't forge headers or sell "herbal Viagra," and they probably even used a spell-checker on their copy; however, they had no more regard for my privacy or my good will than the sleaziest of serial mortgage spammers. This, together with collusion by their upstream provider, made them a royal pain in the ass. I'm not sorry to see them go (if in fact they are really gone, and not just hiding under some new name).

From: Cross <>
Reply-To: Unsubscribe <>
Subject: Gear up for school with Cross
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<title>Win Mail</title>
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<p>Dear Friend,</p>
<p>Get ready, it's almost time to head back to school!
The best way to start a new school year is with a stylish
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with our futuristic <a href="
<<funny-number>> &c=635a&i=<<funny-number>>">Ion</a>

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pen. Check out the <a href="
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<p><font size="1">*Available on most writing instruments.</font></p>
<p>The Team at</p>
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<<funny-number>> &c=635a&i=<<funny-number>>" alt="Ion" title="Ion">

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(c) 2003-2006, Richard C. Conner ( )

03729 hits since March 28 2009

Updated: Sat, 06 May 2006