A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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June 5, 2005

New chapter in Sex.com saga

You thought the tortured saga of the Sex.com domain was over?

Looks like there's a new chapter. Someone slipped a fake news story about Gary Kremen, the owner of Sex.com, over the PR Web newswire on Saturday.

The faux story reports that Kremen has been arrested for "child molestation and possession of heroin."

The same piece also was spammed to numerous Internet discussion groups in recent days. The Usenet version appeared on newsgroups including alt.music.pink-floyd, misc.invest.stocks, soc.culture.jewish, and misc.writing.screenplays.

Last Thursday, the hoaxster also managed to sneak a copy of the faux news article past the editor of the TELECOM Digest OnLine (comp.dcom.telecom).

The bogus story bears some resemblance to an actual news report, and even includes a phony quote from Kremen, in which he denies the charges but admits to a drug problem.

Telltale signs that the Usenet version of the article is a hoax: it doesn't reveal where it was originally published, let alone provide an URL to the original source. What's more, the author, "Nancy Howard," posted it to Usenet using an open proxy.

I e-mailed Kremen to ask him whether he suspected Stephen Cohen was behind the hoax. Cohen was the man who battled Kremen over Sex.com.

Kremen's reply: "Very likely."

Kremen added that incident showed "how online technology allows anyone to broadcast anything with no filters!"

Posted by brian at June 5, 2005 11:12 PM


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