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

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January 3, 2006

Violent Admins Against Spam

In June 2000, a taxi driver named Reid Walker got fed up with trying to unsubscribe from Davis Hawke's "Banned CD" spams. So, as detailed in Chapter 3 of Spam Kings, Walker used a comment form at one of Hawke's ordering sites to bomb him with hundreds of complaints. The next day, a grumpy Hawke removed Walker's email address from his mailing lists.

Some people take their retaliation even further. In May 2003, a guy named Fred said he belonged to a group known as "violent admins against spam (VAAS)." Fred introduced a free Windows utility called FormFucker (FF). The tool was designed to flood spammer order forms with bogus data. "Give them a few thousands realistic looking orders, and these guys are pretty screwed," wrote Fred in the Nanae newsgroup.

A number of people quickly signed up to use FF, but Fred also got a lot of criticism for, as one anti-spammer put it, "fighting abuse with abuse." About a month later, Fred stopped promoting FF online. But soon a similar tool, a Java application called FormFlood, appeared on the Internet.

More recently, a web developer named Robin Grimes created a site called PhishFighting.com that's designed to mess with web sites created by phishing scammers.

The latest project of this sort goes by the ungainly name Kick A Spammer In The Nuts Daily. It's headed up by an anti-spammer named Darren Brothers. Right now, the project is mostly manual. Brothers is trying to round up volunteers to poison the leads database of a ROKSO-class mortgage-and-pills spammer named Alex Polyakov.

Says Brothers: "The more we poison their leads database, the more work they've got to do to clean it up, and the fewer brokers will buy their leads in the future. We're going to give them a reputation as a trash leads seller, so no one will buy their leads."

Problem is, Polyakov apparently operates hundreds of domains. So Brothers says he needs lots of help. (Eventually, he hopes to release a program called Formicator, which will work a lot like FF, to automate the process.)

In an email, Brothers explained his goal: "I'm trying to starve [Polyakov] of resources by cutting off his income, raising his costs, and wasting his time. It's not enough to beat him up so badly that he stops spamming... I want to break him financially. I want him so poor that he can't even consider buying one domain."

Brothers says he recently received some telephone death threats from Leo Kuvayev, whom Brothers believes is partners with Polyakov.

Yikes. Isn't this all getting a bit too personal?

Posted by brian at January 3, 2006 12:10 AM


And I recently found another project that's different, but is also designed to make trouble for spammers. This time by running up their bandwidth bills:


Posted by: Spamhuntress at January 4, 2006 4:09 AM

Hi Spamhuntress. I should have noted that the SpamVampire you mention is also the work of Darren Brothers.

Posted by: Brian at January 4, 2006 9:21 AM

Has there ever been any indication that spammers will stop spamming if attacked? Far as I can tell, it just makes them more determined to strike back.

Posted by: J.D. at January 4, 2006 8:12 PM

I don't like the vigilante approach. I'm using Blue Security's service at the moment, and I prefer their approach of filing orderly complaints. They also do this form-filling, but it's not a 'bombard' approach. Only 1 form-fill per spam received.

I think approaches like theirs are more likely to be successful in the short run.

In the long run, they simply displace junk mail onto others, which doesn't solve the problem, just puts it in someone else's mailbox.

(in answer to the 'other' question, no I haven't noticed much drop in amount of spam received, but I do feel better about actively complaining about the spam, rather than just ignoring my spambox and hoping the spammers will get a better job.)

Posted by: Dyl at January 5, 2006 7:57 AM


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