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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Alex Shafts, CEO / World Wide Domain Names Part II

Yesterday's "Alex Shafts" spam run is the most bizarre I have seen in a long time, and clearly has been quite widespread given the hundreds of visitors who have come to this blog.
  1. Spammer appears to have lost his home, so presumably is in financial trouble. That sucks, times are certainly hard for a lot of people.. often through no fault of their own.
  2. Spammer discovers affiliate marketing. Done right, this can make you a lot of money.. assuming that you do it right.
  3. Spammer decides that LunarPages web hosting affiliate program looks good.
  4. Spammer rents a server, a mailing list and writes some ad copy. I can quite believe that the spammer bought the mailing list in good faith - often scraped email addresses are mis-sold as opt-in addresses.
  5. Now things start to go awry - the spammer's email is not CAN-SPAM compliant. The subject line is deceptive (it is "Notice Regarding Your DOMAIN NAME", the spam is about hosting). There is no physical address on the email, and no opt-out mechanism.
  6. On the plus side, the spammer is not hiding his identity, and the spamvertised domain of worldswidedomainname.com has what appears to be vaguely valid contact details (although the house currently appears to be empty).
  7. Now for the REALLY stupid part - the spammer has set up a mailing list to distribute the spam, but there are no restrictions on who can send to it. So when some addresses start to auto-respond, those responses are then re-spammed out to everyone on the list. I have seen dozens of these, but I think that my spam filter has kept out a LOT more.
  8. Spammer's affiliate account, hosting and even Yahoo! email address gets nuked from orbit. Kudos to LunarPages and IX Web Hosting for their prompt action.
  9. Who knows what will happen next? A LOT of people are really angry about the email storm that this has generated. Some may even take legal action.
There's another interesting blog entry about this at Skillett.com which expands on the story some.

So here's the scorecard for this particular bit of affiliate marketing:

  • Keeping within the Terms of Service for your affiliate program: FAIL
  • Keeping within the Terms of Service for your web host: FAIL
  • Technical expertise: FAIL
  • Legal compliance: FAIL
  • Income generation: FAIL
  • OVERALL: FAIL
Now if only Ecommerce corporation could shut down the spam coming through 98.130.1.155 then everyone else would have a WIN. As of about 0500 GMT the darned stuff is still coming through..

1 comment:

Keiron said...

Thanks for the link Conrad, it certainly is a bizarre one, and I've not seen one of these things cause this much confusion in some time!!!

Alex himself seems keen to defend his position with legal action in the comment he left on my blog (I assume you probably received the same), but I'd much prefer him to contact me and try to explain what he's upto!! :)