Thursday, November 11, 2010

Text Spam Made Its Debut on My Cellphone (Part 3)

I probably should have done this shortly after I received the text spam I blogged about before. But, I sent a test message to the email address given in the spam text, optout4@yahoo.com, to see what kind of response I would get.

I didn't use my regular email address. Instead, I used a throwaway account that I keep expressly for that kind of thing. I simply posed a question, asking how they got my unlisted number.

This is the response I received:
Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address.
<optout4@yahoo.com>: Remote host said: 554 delivery error: dd This user doesn't have a yahoo.com account (optout4@yahoo.com) [-5] - mta1276.mail.ac4.yahoo.com
Essentially, this means one of several things:

  1. the email account was shutdown due to reports to Yahoo! that the account was being used for spam;
  2. the email account had been active, but was shutdown by the owner for reasons unknowable to me at this time;
  3. the email account was hacked by persons unknown to me and they deleted the account; 
  4. the account was never active in the first place and the email address was a ruse. The reply via text would have been the only way the spammer could have any contact from their intended victims;
The last option makes little sense, since using the cellphone/telephone text replies as their only means of receiving opt-in or opt-out messages would have left the spammers with an unreliable means of communication. Complaints from individuals against the phone companies would have repeatedly resulted in those accounts getting closed and the spammer having to establish new communication lines with a new number. Spamming is all about acquiring information and/or money. If your operation constantly has to move from one account to another on a regular basis, the cost versus benefit doesn't add-up in their favor.

The first two options seem to be the most likely to be correct, though I will not discount the third choice out-of-hand. Given that a simple Internet search reveals that the email address is strongly associated with a wave of text spam would have given weight to any complaints sent to Yahoo!.

So, Round One goes to the General Public, for now.

If you live in the United States, you may file a complaint against the sender of this text spam by going to this webpage
https://esupport.fcc.gov/ccmsforms/form1088.action


Duane Browning
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