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

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February 22, 2006

P2P spam scam

Spam Kings describes how spammers like Robert Todino have made money (and gotten into trouble for) sending fraudulent ads for free government grants.isaveclubcom-sm.jpg

Looks like a version of that email scam has appeared on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. Someone has been spamming Gnutella with junk files promoting a bogus buyers' club site called efreeclub.com.

Since peer-to-peer networks are regarded by many authorities as a land of outlaws, I doubt anyone in law enforcement will care. And that's what makes this p2p promotion of efreeclub.com such a great scam.

As of this writing, over 1,700 people have forked out $19.95 to join efreeclub.com, according to PayPal records. Judging by the numerous online complaints about efreeclub.com and similar predecessor sites, I'd be surprised if anyone received any of the "hundreds of free products" promised by efreeclub.com.

If you use Limewire or Bearshare or a similar program, it's sometimes impossible to avoid efreeclub.com's junk. Somehow the scammers are intercepting audio searches and returning the same 134 kb mp3 file regardless of the user's search terms. The audio is of someone doing a bad imitation of Bill Clinton and encouraging listeners to go to efreeclub.com. There are also Windows Media, image, and exe versions of the same spam.

This scam has been going on at least since 2004, when a similar p2p spam offered a "free iPod" via membership to sites including isaveclub.com, esaveclub.com, edirectclub.com, and Clearoutclub.com.(Click the image above to see one of the junk jpg files for isaveclub.com.) Gnutella spam in general has been around since at least 2000.

Instead of using PayPal or credit cards, most of those alternate sites request bank routing and account information -- perhaps as a way to prevent members from disputing charges.

As one web user so aptly opined: "www.isaveclub.com is an intelligence test, send him money, you flunked it."

Who's behind this scam? Hard to say exactly. No search-engine hits on 416-208-3122, the Toronto phone number in the PayPay record for efreeclub.com. A recorded message says all customer service reps are busy.

But 416-222-3190, the fax number in the site's who-is listing, produced a couple hits, including this one. When I called, a guy named Ashok answered but then hung up on me when I asked about efreeclub.com.

As noted, since this is a scam primarily affecting p2p users, I doubt anyone like Canada's National White Collar Crime Centre will be interested. But maybe they'll surprise us.

Posted by brian at February 22, 2006 11:36 AM


wow. that's why you really gotta think about it before you do anything. On the internet if something is free, I would say dont do it, since there is no reliable way of proving if it is true or not...

Posted by: L at April 8, 2006 9:31 PM


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