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

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August 5, 2005

Dateline tracks down a porn spammer

Spunk Farm logoInteresting spam story on NBC's Dateline program this evening. Haven't seen a link to the video, but there's a text version of the report here.

The somewhat self-congratulatory "hidden camera investigation" chronicled how NBC tracked down a spam affiliate for a porn site called SpunkFarm.com. [Caution: that domain currently is a hornet's nest of pop-ups.)

NBC apparently was prompted to do the investigation after the affiliate, who turned out to be a man in Montreal named Jean Yves Cotes, sent some zoo spam to a woman in Texas who was offended.

Kudos to Dateline NBC and correspondent John Hockenberry for providing mainstream America with an appreciation of what anti-spammers encounter every day: spammers go to amazing lengths to hide their identities.

But I had the feeling that Dateline's crack research team was trying to make the hunt look harder than it actually was. (Granted, bringing your cameras on a salacious visit to a Las Vegas porn convention sure produces better prime-time TV than searching the copious clues on the news.admin.net-abuse.sightings newsgroup.)

Fact is, Dynamic Pipe (aka Webfinity aka Python Video aka Global Media), the outfit behind Spunkfarm, has been on the Spamhaus ROKSO list of the world's biggest spammers for at least two years. (Again, poring over the details of Dynamic Pipe's ROKSO record isn't nearly as sexy as a meeting in an alley in Toronto.)

As for Jean Yves Cotes, the affiliate who was sacrificially given up by Spunkfarm ... my guess is he's just a lazy guy trying to make a quick buck. In other words, a chickenboner. I'm not sure the apology Hockenberry wrung out of him was all that meaningful in the grand scheme of things.

Posted by brian at August 5, 2005 11:29 PM


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