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Showing posts with label Somnath Bharti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Somnath Bharti. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Headlines Today: More evidence against Somnath Bharti unearthed

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Somnath Bharti - porn site operator?

I seem to have written a lot about Somnath Bharti lately, and he's certainly a topic of interest in Indian politics. I'm not going to go on about his links to TopSites LLC (watch the video if you are interested), but I wanted to look at these persistent comments that Somnath Bharti was some sort of porn site operator.

If you want the really short version it's this - I've never seen any evidence that Mr Bharti has owned or operated a porn site. That's it.

But what are the links to porn, and where is there confusion?

allwebhunt.com links to porn and pro-pedophilia sites

It is beyond all reasonable doubt that allwebhunt.com is connected to Somnath Bharti. This was a directory of sites that was rapidly taken offline when the Times of India exposed the connection. Some of the more unsavoury contents of that site include a set links to pro-pedophilia sites which had been copied from the Open Directory Project (which had deleted them years ago). That's a pretty poor sense of judgement in this case, but it is really down to sloppiness rather than actual malice in my opinion.

But allwebhunt.com also linked to more regular porn sites, including the examples pictured below.

These entries appeared to be paid or sponsored ones, but the sites themselves are not Mr Bharti's and it does amuse me that some of the India news outlets criticising Mr Bharti for this do exactly the same things themselves.

Ultimately, allwebhut.com (and its predecessor topsites.us) directories are simply a catalogue of available sites, some of those links may be questionable but they do not imply ownership or mean that anything illegal is happening.

Ownership of teens-boy.net

One of the sites that Mr Bharti owned was teens-boy.net, according to historical WHOS records from 2005:

Domain:        teens-boy.net
Record Date:     2005-01-08
Registrar:     GOTNAMES.CA INC.
Server:     whois.gotnames.ca
Created:     2004-11-26
Updated:    
Expires:     2005-11-26

Domain teens-boy.net

  Date Registered: 2004-11-26
    Date Modified: 2004-11-30
      Expiry Date: 2005-11-26
             DNS1: ns1.www--search.com
             DNS2: ns2.www--search.com

  Registrant

                   My Directory LLC
                   PO Box 7334 - 101591
                   San Francisco, CA (US)
                   94120-73

  Administrative Contact

                   My Directory LLC
                   Somnath Bharti
                   PO Box 7334 - 101591
                   San Francisco
                   CA
                   US
                   94120-73
                   415-462-3044
                   530-504-8433
                   listings@mydir.org

  Technical Contact

                   My Directory LLC
                   Somnath Bharti
                   PO Box 7334 - 101591
                   San Francisco
                   CA
                   US
                   94120-73
                   415-462-3044
                   530-504-8433
                   listings@mydir.org

        Registrar: GotNames.ca
teens-boy.net had been a gay porn site until late 2004 as it appears in the Internet Archive [link is probably not safe for work]. The Internet Archive does not have any pictures on it in this case, but it is clear what the site is about by looking at the text.


It's an odd site for Mr Bharti to have in his name. But what did it actually look like after he bought it? The Internet Archive gives the answer again [this link is OK]. We can see that it just acts as a redirector to dirs.org which is yet another clone of the TopSites directory.




I guess this might have been an attempt at SEO, the domain was bought with a lot of other non-porn domains which also forwarded in this way. As far as I can tell, when the domain registration was up the domain simply expired at the end of 2005, it was re-registered by an unrelated party in 2007.

DVLPMNT MARKETING, INC and www-goto.com confusion

Webnewswire.com ran a story looking at the WHOIS details of www-goto.com, a site that had been registered to Mr Bharti in 2005:

Domain:        www-goto.com
Record Date:     2005-05-18
Registrar:     INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D/B/A DIRECTNIC.COM
Server:     whois.directnic.com
Created:     2004-12-08
Updated:    
Expires:     2005-12-08

Registrant:
 Media  LLC
 1158 26th Street #528
 Santa Monica, CA 90403
 US
 310-857-6666
Fax:530-504-8433

Domain Name: WWW-GOTO.COM

Administrative Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath sales@dirs.org
 1158 26th Street #528
 Santa Monica, CA 90403
 US
 310-857-6666
Fax:530-504-8433

Technical Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath sales@dirs.org
 1158 26th Street #528
 Santa Monica, CA 90403
 US
 310-857-6666
Fax:530-504-8433

Record last updated 05-17-2005 03:09:40 PM
Record expires on 12-08-2005
Record created on 12-08-2004

Domain servers in listed order:
    NS1.WWW-GOTO.COM    202.14.69.2
    NS2.WWW-GOTO.COM    202.14.69.117
They then looked at the current WHOIS details which are:
Domain:        www-goto.com
Record Date:     2014-02-06
Registrar:     DNC HOLDINGS, INC.
Server:     whois.directnic.com
Created:     2004-12-08
Updated:     2013-06-12
Expires:     2014-12-08 

Domain Name: WWW-GOTO.COM
Registry Domain ID:
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.directnic.com
Registrar URL: http://www.directnic.com
Updated Date: -001-11-30T00:00:00-06:00
Creation Date: 2004-12-08T11:03:22-06:00
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2014-12-08T17:03:22-06:00
Registrar: DNC Holdings, Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 291
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@directnic.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.8668569598
Domain Status: ok
Registrant Name: Domain Administrator
Registrant Organization: DVLPMNT MARKETING, INC.
Registrant Street: Hunkins Plaza
Registrant City: Charlestown
Registrant State/Province: Nevis
Registrant Postal Code: NA
Registrant Country: KN
Registrant Phone: 011-869-765-4496
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax:
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: dvlpmntltd@gmail.com
Admin Name: Domain Administrator
Admin Organization: DVLPMNT MARKETING, INC.
Admin Street: Hunkins Plaza
Admin City: Charlestown
Admin State/Province: Nevis
Admin Postal Code: NA
Admin Country: KN
Admin Phone: 011-869-765-4496
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax:
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: dvlpmntltd@gmail.com
Tech Name: Domain Administrator
Tech Organization: DVLPMNT MARKETING, INC.
Tech Street: Hunkins Plaza
Tech City: Charlestown
Tech State/Province: Nevis
Tech Postal Code: NA
Tech Country: KN
Tech Phone: 011-869-765-4496
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax:
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email: dvlpmntltd@gmail.com
Name Server: NS1.VOODOO.COM
Name Server: NS2.VOODOO.COM
URL of the ICANN WHOIS Data Problem Reporting System
http://wdprs.internic.net
The creation date for the domain is still 2004, so the domain has never dropped and been reregistered, it has been in continual existence since that date. The rather mysterious DVLPMNT MARKETING, INC certainly does seem to be connected with porn domains, but is this company controlled by Mr Bharti? No.


A look at the historical WHOIS details again yield some clues. The domain expired in 2008 and ended up being controlled by the registrar DirectNIC..
Domain:        www-goto.com
Record Date:     2008-12-19
Registrar:     INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D/B/A DIRECTNIC.COM
Server:     whois.directnic.com
Created:     2004-12-08
Updated:     2008-12-09
Expires:     2009-12-08
Previous Screenshots
2008-12-18 screenshot
Reverse Whois:

Registrant:
 directNIC.com
 Expired Domain Name
 650 Poydras Street
 Suite 1150
 New Orleans, LA 70130
 US
 504-679-5170

Domain Name: WWW-GOTO.COM

Administrative Contact:
 Domain, Expired expireddomain@directnic.com
 Expired Domain Name
 650 Poydras Street
 Suite 1150
 New Orleans, LA 70130
 US
 504-679-5170

Technical Contact:
 Domain, Expired expireddomain@directnic.com
 Expired Domain Name
 650 Poydras Street
 Suite 1150
 New Orleans, LA 70130
 US
 504-679-5170

Record last updated 12-09-2008 06:13:27 PM
Record expires on 12-08-2008
Record created on 12-08-2004

Domain servers in listed order:
    NS0.EXPIREDDOMAINSERVICES.COM    69.46.228.236
    NS1.EXPIREDDOMAINSERVICES.COM    69.46.228.237

DirectNIC reserve the right to auction off expired domains and the next WHOIS entry sees the domain being controlled by a domain parking company. It is unlikely that Mr Bharti or any of his associates received anything for this domain, it was essentially scrapped.

Is there any other evidence linking Somnath Bharti to porn?

Over the past couple of weeks I have re-examined the TopSites LLC business plus Mr Bharti's own Madgen Solutions from my own records and other public sources. These revealed all sort of interesting facts and allegations about Mr Bharti's activities.. but absolutely nothing that suggest that he owned or operated porn sites.

Of course, perhaps there is evidence that I am not aware of, but I would be very surprised if there is.. you can always send me an email if you have anything that will prove me wrong.


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Somnath Bharti's allwebhunt.com linked to pro-pedophilia sites

Delhi minister Somnath Bharti's allwebhunt.com site was linking to pro-pedophilia sites as late as 31st December 2013, according to Google [warning: I do not advise that you click on the links in that page]. Here is a screenshot (some descriptions may offend) (if you have difficulty with seeing the text, try this version). The ownership link between allwebhunt.com and Mr Bharti is described here.

That content was most likely taken from a controversial category at The Open Directory Project which no longer exists.

The Open Directory Project does try to be all-inclusive in what it catalogues, but I suspect that pro-paedophile sites were something that it felt it could not condone.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Headlines Today (India): Somnath Bharti's spammer connection

I'm not sure what all this fascination is with Mr Bharti's alleged connections to porn.. I've never found any evidence that he has hosted or owned sites with pornographic content. But there's certainly a great deal of evidence linking him with spam outfit TopSites LLC.

Somnath Bharti denies link to TopSites LLC in 2004

This is Somnath Bharti's denial of any involvement in TopSites LLC (explored here and in other posts). I believe that the evidence of Mr Bharti's involvement is overwhelming. However, here is a copy of the original email he sent me complete with mail headers so that independent individuals can look into its authenticity.

Return-Path: <somnath.bharti@gmail.com>
Received: from unknown (HELO blade5.cesmail.net) (192.168.1.215)
  by c60.cesmail.net with SMTP; 14 Nov 2004 13:43:23 -0500
Received: (qmail 5069 invoked by uid 1010); 14 Nov 2004 18:43:22 -0000
Delivered-To: spamcop-net-dynamoo@spamcop.net
Received: (qmail 5045 invoked from network); 14 Nov 2004 18:43:21 -0000
Received: from unknown (192.168.1.101)
  by blade5.cesmail.net with QMQP; 14 Nov 2004 18:43:21 -0000
Received: from rproxy.gmail.com (64.233.170.197)
  by mailgate.cesmail.net with SMTP; 14 Nov 2004 18:43:21 -0000
Received: by rproxy.gmail.com with SMTP id r35so540853rna
        for <dynamoo@spamcop.net>; Sun, 14 Nov 2004 10:43:20 -0800 (PST)
DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; q=dns; c=nofws;
        s=beta; d=gmail.com;
        h=received:message-id:date:from:reply-to:to:subject:mime-version:content-type:content-transfer-encoding;
        b=AItQWQnfUOPREzb2USZ1AAdfuMy54ME4VonsHz7VdB93Wd8apOkFSOrdqjkbLLFqI6nUaFy2cKrbLXTrFSLC0p5Kj2ZdwK0Qb6CFZjbS24HecjymNLUahhMUBp3AbEb0M/t/EXhC4N0HZeCD06YP/TK7XF0dZaqNweevm4cXL4E=
Received: by 10.38.102.45 with SMTP id z45mr1019046rnb;
        Sun, 14 Nov 2004 10:43:20 -0800 (PST)
Received: by 10.38.151.16 with HTTP; Sun, 14 Nov 2004 10:43:20 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <4e0e2d5304111410431d08a7bb@mail.gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 10:43:20 -0800
From: Somnath <somnath.bharti@gmail.com>
Reply-To: Somnath <somnath.bharti@gmail.com>
To: dynamoo@spamcop.net
Subject: surprising and serious
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.0.0 (2004-09-13) on blade5
X-Spam-Level:
X-Spam-Status: hits=0.0 tests=RCVD_BY_IP version=3.0.0
X-SpamCop-Checked: 192.168.1.101 64.233.170.197 10.38.102.45 10.38.151.16

Hi Conrad,

I was taken by surprise to find you listing my name, one of my
properties address and my picture in an article on a company named
"TopSites LLC" on your site. I don't know on what basis you have been
talking so emphatic without cross verifying with the person you are
talking about. To my utter surprise, you have been having this article
on your site accusing me of being related to a company I have heard
only through your article. Please have the same removed ASAP and
explain to me what made you write all this about a person, not even
remotely attached to any such company.
Please acknowledge of this email and have any and everything related
my name, my pic and c-28 address removed. I am available at
+91-9891819893, if you have anything to talk about. Also, post on the
same page an apology for this grievous mistake on your part.


--
Regards,
Somnath Bharti

Monday, 3 February 2014

More on Somnath Bharti's link TopSites LLC spam sites

Somnath Bharti is apparently still denying any connection to TopSites LLC, but yet his company Madgen Solutions hosted several TopSites LLC domains back in 2004, and his name even appears at the registrant on several historical WHOIS records.

The following list is not comprehensive, but it does show a selection of the TopSites spam domains with Mr Bharti's name on them, plus the date that the WHOIS entry was recorded.

topsites.us


Record Date:     2004-01-12
Registrar:    
Server:    
Created:    
Updated:    
Expires:    

Domain Name:                                 TOPSITES.US
Domain ID:                                   D1947066-US
Sponsoring Registrar:                        INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D.B.A. DIRECTNIC.COM
Domain Status:                               ok
Registrant ID:                               IMG-525234
Registrant Name:                             Somnath Bharti
Registrant Organization:                     TopSites LLC
Registrant Address1:                         PO Box 7334 - 101591
Registrant City:                             San Francisco
Registrant State/Province:                   CA
Registrant Postal Code:                      94120-7334
Registrant Country:                          United States
Registrant Country Code:                     US
Registrant Phone Number:                     +1.4152945300
Registrant Email:                            listings2@www-topsites.com
Registrant Application Purpose:              P1
Registrant Nexus Category:                   C21
Administrative Contact ID:                   IMG-525234
Administrative Contact Name:                 Somnath Bharti
Administrative Contact Organization:         TopSites LLC
Administrative Contact Address1:             PO Box 7334 - 101591
Administrative Contact City:                 San Francisco
Administrative Contact State/Province:       CA
Administrative Contact Postal Code:          94120-7334
Administrative Contact Country:              United States
Administrative Contact Country Code:         US
Administrative Contact Phone Number:         +1.4152945300
Administrative Contact Email:                listings2@www-topsites.com
Administrative Application Purpose:          P1
Administrative Nexus Category:               C21
Billing Contact ID:                          IMG-525234
Billing Contact Name:                        Somnath Bharti
Billing Contact Organization:                TopSites LLC
Billing Contact Address1:                    PO Box 7334 - 101591
Billing Contact City:                        San Francisco
Billing Contact State/Province:              CA
Billing Contact Postal Code:                 94120-7334
Billing Contact Country:                     United States
Billing Contact Country Code:                US
Billing Contact Phone Number:                +1.4152945300
Billing Contact Email:                       listings2@www-topsites.com
Billing Application Purpose:                 P1
Billing Nexus Category:                      C21
Technical Contact ID:                        IMG-525234
Technical Contact Name:                      Somnath Bharti
Technical Contact Organization:              TopSites LLC
Technical Contact Address1:                  PO Box 7334 - 101591
Technical Contact City:                      San Francisco
Technical Contact State/Province:            CA
Technical Contact Postal Code:               94120-7334
Technical Contact Country:                   United States
Technical Contact Country Code:              US
Technical Contact Phone Number:              +1.4152945300
Technical Contact Email:                     listings2@www-topsites.com
Technical Application Purpose:               P1
Technical Nexus Category:                    C21
Name Server:                                 NS1.WWW-TOPSITES.COM
Name Server:                                 NS2.WWW-TOPSITES.COM
Created by Registrar:                        INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D.B.A. DIRECTNIC.COM
Last Updated by Registrar:                   INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D.B.A. DIRECTNIC.COM
Domain Registration Date:                    Thu Apr 25 00:01:49 GMT 2002
Domain Expiration Date:                      Sat Apr 24 23:59:59 GMT 2004
Domain Last Updated Date:                    Tue Jan 06 21:40:07 GMT 2004

>>>> Whois database was last updated on: Mon Jan 12 15:40:10 GMT 2004 <<<<
==================================


top--sites.com


Record Date:     2004-02-14
Registrar:     INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D/B/A DIRECTNIC.COM
Server:     whois.directnic.com
Created:     2003-11-08
Updated:    
Expires:     2004-11-08

Registrant:
 TopSites LLC
 1300 Evans Avenue
 PO Box 7334 - 101591
 San Francisco, CA 94120-7334
 US
 415-294-5300

Domain Name: TOP--SITES.COM

Administrative Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath sales@topsites.us
 1300 Evans Avenue
 PO Box 7334 - 101591
 San Francisco, CA 94120-7334
 US
 415-294-5300

Technical Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath sales@topsites.us
 1300 Evans Avenue
 PO Box 7334 - 101591
 San Francisco, CA 94120-7334
 US
 415-294-5300

Record expires on 11-08-2004
Record created on 11-08-2003

Domain servers in listed order:
    NS1.WWW-TOPSITES.COM    202.154.161.61
    NS2.WWW-TOPSITES.COM    202.154.161.62

==================================

top--sites.net


Record Date:     2003-10-23
Registrar:     INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D/B/A DIRECTNIC.COM
Server:     whois.directnic.com
Created:     2003-10-17
Updated:    
Expires:     2004-10-17

Registrant:
 Worldwide Management
 946 NW CIRCLE BLVD. #248
 CORVALLIS, OR 97330-1410
 US
 530-688-9820

Domain Name: TOP--SITES.NET

Administrative Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath listings2@www-topsites.com
 946 NW CIRCLE BLVD. #248
 CORVALLIS, OR 97330-1410
 US
 530-688-9820

Technical Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath listings2@www-topsites.com
 946 NW CIRCLE BLVD. #248
 CORVALLIS, OR 97330-1410
 US
 530-688-9820

Record expires on 10-17-2004
Record created on 10-17-2003

Domain servers in listed order:
    NS1.WWW-TOPSITES.COM    202.9.152.26
    NS2.WWW-TOPSITES.COM    202.9.152.24


==================================

www-topsites.com


Record Date:     2004-02-10
Registrar:     INTERCOSMOS MEDIA GROUP, INC. D/B/A DIRECTNIC.COM
Server:     whois.directnic.com
Created:     2003-08-31
Updated:    
Expires:     2004-08-31

Registrant:
 TopSites LLC
 PO Box 7334 - 101591
 San Francisco, CA 94120-7334
 US
 415-294-5300

Domain Name: WWW-TOPSITES.COM

Administrative Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath listings2@www-topsites.com
 PO Box 7334 - 101591
 San Francisco, CA 94120-7334
 US
 415-294-5300

Technical Contact:
 Bharti, Somnath listings2@www-topsites.com
 PO Box 7334 - 101591
 San Francisco, CA 94120-7334
 US
 415-294-5300

Record last updated 12-19-2003 12:07:24 AM
Record expires on 08-31-2004
Record created on 08-31-2003

Domain servers in listed order:
    NS1.WWW-TOPSITES.COM    202.154.161.61
    NS2.WWW-TOPSITES.COM    202.154.161.62


==================================

dirs.org


Record Date:     2005-07-23
Registrar:    
Server:     whois.publicinterestregistry.net
Created:    
Updated:    
Expires:    

Domain ID:D104710290-LROR
Domain Name:DIRS.ORG
Created On:01-Aug-2004 17:35:04 UTC
Last Updated On:30-Jun-2005 16:42:32 UTC
Expiration Date:01-Aug-2006 17:35:04 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:Intercosmos Media Group Inc. (R48-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:ODN-638485
Registrant Name:Somnath Bharti
Registrant Organization:Media  LLC
Registrant Street1:1158 26th Street #528
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Santa Monica
Registrant State/Province:CA
Registrant Postal Code:90403
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.3108576666
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:listings@www-goto.com
Admin ID:ODN-638485
Admin Name:Somnath Bharti
Admin Organization:Media  LLC
Admin Street1:1158 26th Street #528
Admin Street2:
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Santa Monica
Admin State/Province:CA
Admin Postal Code:90403
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.3108576666
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:listings@www-goto.com
Tech ID:ODN-638485
Tech Name:Somnath Bharti
Tech Organization:Media  LLC
Tech Street1:1158 26th Street #528
Tech Street2:
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Santa Monica
Tech State/Province:CA
Tech Postal Code:90403
Tech Country:US
Tech Phone:+1.3108576666
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:listings@www-goto.com
Name Server:NS1.WWW--SEARCH.COM
Name Server:NS2.WWW--SEARCH.COM



==================================

teens-boy.net


Record Date:     2005-01-08
Registrar:     GOTNAMES.CA INC.
Server:     whois.gotnames.ca
Created:     2004-11-26
Updated:    
Expires:     2005-11-26

Domain teens-boy.net

  Date Registered: 2004-11-26
    Date Modified: 2004-11-30
      Expiry Date: 2005-11-26
             DNS1: ns1.www--search.com
             DNS2: ns2.www--search.com

  Registrant

                   My Directory LLC
                   PO Box 7334 - 101591
                   San Francisco, CA (US)
                   94120-73

  Administrative Contact

                   My Directory LLC
                   Somnath Bharti
                   PO Box 7334 - 101591
                   San Francisco
                   CA
                   US
                   94120-73
                   415-462-3044
                   530-504-8433
                   listings@mydir.org

  Technical Contact

                   My Directory LLC
                   Somnath Bharti
                   PO Box 7334 - 101591
                   San Francisco
                   CA
                   US
                   94120-73
                   415-462-3044
                   530-504-8433
                   listings@mydir.org

        Registrar: GotNames.ca
Back in 2004 these were all hosted on an IP address of 202.14.69.2 (at least for a period of time) which has now been reallocated to a firm in China, but at the time was registered to:

inetnum:      202.14.69.0 - 202.14.69.255
netname:      MADGENSITES
descr:        Madgen Solutions Pvt. Ltd. provides collocation services, shared
descr:        hosting services, private servers hosting, mailing solutions and
descr:        mailservers and is located in Malviya Nagar, New Delhi, India
country:      IN
admin-c:      HM339-AP
tech-c:       HM339-AP
remarks:      send all spam and abuse reports to abuse@madgen.com
mnt-by:       APNIC-HM
mnt-routes:   MAINT-IN-MADGEN
status:       ASSIGNED PORTABLE
remarks:      -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
remarks:      This object can only be updated by APNIC hostmasters.
remarks:      To update this object, please contact APNIC
remarks:      hostmasters and include your organisation's account
remarks:      name in the subject line.
remarks:      -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
changed:      hm-changed@apnic.net 20040817
changed:      hm-changed@apnic.net 20040929
source:       APNIC

person:       host master
nic-hdl:      HM339-AP
e-mail:       hostmaster@madgen.com
address:      C-28, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi-110017, India
phone:        +91-11-26672214
fax-no:       +91-11-26672214
country:      IN
changed:      somnath@madgen.com 20040922
mnt-by:       MAINT-IN-MADGEN
source:       APNIC

DomainTools hosting history for www--search.com shows the presence in Madgen's IP range of 202.14.69.0/24.



You can see a spam report from 2005 also identifying Madgen Solutions as the culprit, and we know from Mr Bharti's own filings [pdf] that he was connected with Madgen Solutions.


There is no doubt that this is this is the same Somnath Bharti as this one. And here are some spam reports directly connecting Madgen Solutions to the TopSites spam [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] that were made at the time.

But it seems that Mr Bharti is still denying everything and claims that this is part of a conspiracy organised by the BJP. Presumably the BJP own a time machine and went back a decade to plant the evidence? Or is the truth rather more straightforward?

Headlines Today (India) "Investigation report: Interesting history of Somnath aka Spamster Bharti"

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Times Now covers the Somnath Bharti story


Somnath Bharti's allwebhunt.com site exposes inner working of spam outfit

Recently I covered the somewhat surprising news that a former top spammer Somnath Bharti is now a minister in the Delhi regional government in India. That story has now made it to the front page of the Times of India, deepening the controversy about Mr Bharti's ethical standards.

I was interested to see Mr Bharti's response to these accusations:

Denying involvement in spamming, Bharti emailed TOI saying: "Back in early 2000, server of Madgen Solutions Pvt Ltd was entrusted with an associate by me who misused it without my consent/knowledge. When the matter cropped up, I came to know that the said associate had generated mass emails soliciting business and had also impersonated me on multiple occasions. On exploring I found out that the emails generated were for a legitimate business, originating from a valid traceable IP address and in proper compliance with the laws applicable in the US, ie CANSPAM Act, then... hence this breach of trust between me and this associate of mine was not pursued in a court of law."
I have to rely on the accuracy of the Times of India with this quote, although the way the TOI has presented it this does like a direct quote from Mr Bharti himself.

Before I start picking apart what Somath Bharti said, it is worth pointing out that the only time I have ever heard anything from him was when he made a flat-out lie claiming that he had never ever heard of the company involved (TopSites LLC), despite having his name listed as CEO on the company business card.


Just for good luck, the person sending me that information also sent me a copy of a very young looking Mr Bharti to prove his identity.

He looks a bit different today (source)


The evidence linking Mr Bharti's Madgen solutions with spam is overwhelming and does not seem to have been denied in the TOI interview, although you can see the reports made at the time here.

But let's look at Mr Bharti's statement to the TOI more closely..
"Back in early 2000, server of Madgen Solutions Pvt Ltd was entrusted with an associate by me who misused it without my consent/knowledge."
Well, this is kind of odd because the TopSites LLC spam did not start until 2002 at the earliest, and and Bharti's outfit was only identified much later than that (see this example). So Mr Bharti's memory is either faulty, or this is just an poorly though-out excuse, or maybe he meant the "early 2000s"?

But Mr Bharti's fingers have always been all over the TopSites business, such as the WHOIS details for the original domain used in the spam, topsites.us:


However, that is just a name on the WHOIS records. We can also see his name on the internal databases of one of the many clone sites of TopSites that was set up:


That information comes from a poorly-secured TopSites clone called allwebhunt.com hosted on a server at 119.82.71.132 (Citycom Networks, India) along with Mr Bharti's own personal website of somnathbharti.com.


allwebhunt.com was rapidly taken down after it was exposed in the Times of India, but you can still see an archived copy here, indicating that the operation was running until at least 2011.


The website was exceptionally poorly coded and exposed all of its internal details to the internet. Here's a screenshot of some of the code listing internal users.


The names of Mr Bharti are all over this particular operation, so it is unlikely that he did not know exactly what was happening. He even went as far as to use a TopSites domain on his somnathbharti.com home page back in 2003.

My conclusion is that despite Mr Bharti's protests, I believe that he was intimately involved in the spamming operation that his company Madgen Solutions was performing on behalf of TopSites LLC.

But there remains one further unanswered question. Back in 2005 the TopSites business was put up for sale claiming an annual turnover of 1.8 million US dollars. And although Mr Bharti's business partners would probably have pocketed the majority of that money, it would seem highly unlikely that Mr Bharti himself did not share in some of those profits.


Exactly how much did Mr Bharti make from this spamming operation? Even the people who did payment processing got a 9% cut..

..I have no idea. But perhaps somebody might like to find out :)

Friday, 24 January 2014

Somnath Bharti: when a spammer becomes a government minister

More than a decade ago I came across an outfit called TopSites LLC which was running a spam operation which was pestering webmasters to renew their listings in the Topsites directory which was basically an unlicensed rip-off of the Open Directory Project in what was basically a business directory scam.

I documented the saga in a five-part series (plus a couple of follow-ups) and eventually TopSites shut up shop, with the main person behind it (Paul Aunger) cashing out from the business and buying into another firm called Inova Technology instead. There's a long story to that particular business and its I won't cover it here, but if you're really interested a trip to InvestorsHub is kind of interesting.

Part way through the TopSites spamming operation, they picked up a partner in India called Somnath Bharti. India was an ideal place to send spam from because it had no anti-spam laws at the time (and is still very lax in this area), so the act of spamming by itself was not illegal.. although the act of selling paid directory listings when they were actually free is a lot more questionable.


Mr Bharti denied any involvement, but since I had a copy of his business card it was pretty clear that he was lying. After I identified him, Mr Bharti was listed in the Spamhaus ROKSO list which is basically a list of the world's worst spammers. An example of the spam can be found here, linking Topsites to Mr Bharti's Madgen Solutions.

I didn't really pay much attention to Mr Bharti after that, although for a long time my site was the number one result in Google for Somnath Bharti which must have irritated him, and I did learn that he moved from IT to become a lawyer.

So I was rather surprised to find that Mr Bharti is now a government minister at the centre of a growing political storm in India, and now journalists are beginning to check his background, which is leading some of them back to what I wrote a decade ago.

Now, I'm not an expert in Indian law (and detractors of Mr Bharti say that he isn't either) but anti-spam laws in India basically do not exist, and certainly a decade ago I don't think that there was anything under Indian law that Mr Bharti was doing wrong. Even so, he was successfully sued in California [doc] for those same spam emails. Rather more seriously, being involved in a business that sells worthless directory listings is certainly legally questionable, although no case about that aspect was ever brought against Topsites or Mr Bharti.

One thing is certain - Mr Bharti lied about his involvement with TopSites. After I published details of his connection, he sent a somewhat threatening email denying involvement but inadventendly confirming it at the same time:
    Subject: surprising and serious
    From: Somnath [somnath.bharti@gmail.com]

     
    Hi Conrad,
    I was taken by surprise to find you listing my name, one of my properties address and my picture in an article on a company named "TopSites LLC" on your site. I don't know on what basis you have been talking so emphatic without cross verifying with the person you are talking about. To my utter surprise, you have been having this article on your site accusing me of being related to a company I have heard only through your article. Please have the same removed ASAP and explain to me what made you write all this about a person, not even remotely attached to any such company.
    Please acknowledge of this email and have any and everything related my name, my pic and c-28 address removed. I am available at +91-9891819893, if you have anything to talk about. Also, post on the same page an apology for this grievous mistake on your part.
    --
    Regards,
    Somnath Bharti

In that email, Mr Bharti emphatically denies involvement, but confirms that the photograph and address I published of him are correct.

What Mr Bharti didn't know was that I had a copy of his business card, not only confirming his connection, but listing him as CEO.


If you are interested in researching the topic for youself, a good place to start is Google Groups, especially searches relating Topsites, Bharti and Madgen Solutions (Bharti's IT company). I don't know if Mr Bharti is still denying his involvement in Topsites, but the evidence is damning if you look for it.

By TopSites LLC's own admission, they were turning in $1.8 million a year by 2005. How much of that money made its way to Mr Bharti is a mystery. And quite how Mr Bharti reconciles his questionable past business practices with his membership of an anti-corruption political party is also a mystery.

I don't know if Mr Bharti accepts or denies his role as a spammer for TopSites LLC, but his name is all over several public records and I also have private unpublished data that places him firmly near the centre of the operation. Perhaps he thinks that selling something that should be free is also an ethical way to do business, I don't know. And how does he explain a blatant and rather pathetic lie about involvement? That's something I don't know either. But I would certainly be interested in seeing what he has to say for himself..

Update:  after being exposed in the Times of India, Mr Bharti denies being reponsible.. but I look deeper at his involvment with the spamming operation here.