Classic Spam:
Who's researching whom?

I used to get this perversely entertaining spam on a fairly frequent basis. The whole idea presented on this truly ugly-looking website was so nutty that it couldn't have been anything but a sucker-trap: You joined this site, then you could leave reports about others, or look up reports that others left about you (or about third parties). Exactly to what these "reports" were supposed to pertain wasn't altogether clear (although judging from the funny-smelling testimonials on the site, I bet they generally weren't nominations for sainthood), but Dr. Garfield claimed steadfastly that he had "nine (9) million" of them.

The spam has a very enticing hook: "WARNING: A REPORT HAS BEEN FILED ABOUT YOU" (note the all-caps shouting). This immediatly impels you to click on the provided hyperlink (which contains a Funny Number, possibly linked to your e-mail address on Dr. Garfield's spam list), where you find ... what? Oh, my God, the report was so bad that the snitch has actually deleted it! There's nothing at all of interest for you to read. How d'ya like that? In the meantime, of course, your visit to the site, along with the funny number, has been duly noted so you can count on getting future spams from Doc Garfield or from anyone else to whom he rents his list. Oh, yeah, he says he won't sell your address, but rule #1 keeps gnawing away at the back of my mind.

I'd actually tried to navigate the nine (9) million reports on the site by putting in various values for the ID argument in the ASP call, but I never found one with anything approaching scurrilous content, or indeed any content at all. Nearly all of them, in fact, are of the "message deleted" variety, which leads me to imagine that Dr. Garfield could have stored those nine (9) million messages on one diskette with room left over for his dissertation.

At the time of this message, the domain word-of-mouth.info was registered in the Philippines by one Richard Garfield (presumably the same "Dr. Richard Garfield" who blew his own horn on the website). The site itself was hosted for quite some time by Pacbell, who eventually must have gotten tired of the floods of complaints and shut it down. Currently, the domain appears to be inactive (but you know how persistent spammers are).

From: Return-Path: <REPORT_NOTIFY@WORLDWATCHDOG.COM>
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Wed, 16 Oct 2002 01:08:01 -0700
From: <REPORT_NOTIFY@WORLDWATCHDOG.COM>
To: <my-address>
Subject: WARNING - A REPORT HAS BEEN FILED ABOUT YOU AT WORD-OF-MOUTH.INFO
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 01:08:01 -0700
X-Priority: 1
X-MSMail-Priority: High
Importance: High
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Message-ID: <DUALBIOSxdIcNC4FqA000030c76@DUALBIOS>
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 16 Oct 2002 08:08:01.0906 (UTC) FILETIME=[25BCC520:01C274EB]
X-SpamCop-Checked: 192.168.1.101 206.46.170.244 64.162.147.203
X-SpamCop-Disposition: Blocked bl.spamcop.net

**********WORD-OF-MOUTH.INFO REPORT WARNING SYSTEM*********

******************THIS EMAIL IS NOT SPAM*******************

WARNING - A REPORT HAS BEEN FILED ABOUT YOU AT WORD-OF-MOUTH.INFO.

For those who do not already know, Word-of-Mouth.Info is an online meeting
place whose purpose is researching people. The concept is very simple.
Users submit reports about people they know and then other users can
search through and review these reports. When an interesting report is
found a user can then contact the report author anonymously through this
website to find out what information the report author has. For more
information please see our ABOUT US and FAQ pages at:

HTTP://WORD-OF-MOUTH.INFO/ABOUTUS.ASP

HTTP://WORD-OF-MOUTH.INFO/FAQ.ASP

Word-of-Mouth.Info currently has over nine (9) million reports in its
report database.

Do not reply to this email; it has been automatically generated.

In this report the report author indicated that this is a current email
address for you.

*Please understand that our system is totally automated and our system is
sending this email to you because the report author has specified this
email address. Therefore, because there is a chance that the report author
either mistakenly or purposefully provided the wrong email address, this
report MAY NOT BE ABOUT YOU.

THIS EMAIL IS NOT SPAM! It has been sent to you as a courtesy so that you
can be made aware of the report. Upon report submission report authors are
required to provide an email address for the subject of the report. Our
system then sends this notification automatically. The author of this
report entered your email address and this is why our system sent you this
email.

You are not on a list and this email address has not been saved by us in
any way.

YOU CAN VIEW THE REPORT AT -

HTTP://WORD-OF-MOUTH.INFO/VIEWREPORT.ASP?ID=<funny number>

If you so desire you may contact the report author anonymously through our
Anonymous Intermediary Email System by using the link included at the top
of the report.

If you would like to block this email address from future report
submission notifications click here -

http://Word-of-Mouth.Info/DoNotEmailList.asp


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

03203 hits since March 28 2009

Updated: Sat, 06 May 2006