Trial provides a peek into how and why some spammers work.

This ABC News item about the recent trial in Virgina of big-time spammer Jeremy Jaynes gives you an idea of just how profitable an operation it is as well as how many idiots are out there. Apparently they number into the tens of thousands:

During the trial, prosecutors focused on three products that Jaynes hawked: software that promises to clean computers of private information; a service for choosing penny stocks to invest in; and a “FedEx refund processor” that promised $75-an-hour work but did little more than give buyers access to a Web site of delinquent FedEx accounts.

Jaynes, going by Gaven Stubberfield and other aliases, had established a niche as a pornography purveyor, said Assistant Attorney General Russell McGuire, who prosecuted the case. But Jaynes was constantly tweaking and rotating products.

Relatively few people actually responded to Jaynes’ pitches. In a typical month, prosecutors said during the trial, Jaynes might receive 10,000 to 17,000 credit card orders, thus making money on perhaps only one of every 30,000 e-mails he sent out.

But he earned $40 a pop, and the undertaking was so vast that Jaynes could still pull in $400,000 to $750,000 a month, while spending perhaps $50,000 on bandwidth and other overhead, McGuire said.

“When you’re marketing to the world, there are enough idiots out there” who will be suckered in, McGuire said in an interview.

A one-man operation pulling in over $400,000 a month for little more than filling up inboxes around the world with offers for crap. This is another one of those things that makes you wonder how people can be so stupid as to buy into this crap. I’ve noticed that a lot of the spam I’ve gotten recently are offers for Rolex watches. Who are these people that think they can get a Rolex watch dirt-cheap from an email offer full of typos and intentional punctuation mistakes intended to get the message past email filters? The offers for university degrees are even more ridiculous. The idea that one guy could pull down that kind of money (Jaynes is estimated to have a net worth of around $24 million) is amazing when you consider how many other spammers are out there. Are they all making that kind of money? And who the hell is spending it??

11 thoughts on “Trial provides a peek into how and why some spammers work.

  1. Now you tell me.  Is it too late to cancel my order for ten Rolexes?  I gave the guy my Visa number…

    No kidding people are stupid.  How can anyone believe the Nigerian scam?  Yet they rake in the dough.  “There’s a fool born every minute” is outdated- more like “every second”.

  2. His income makes me ill. Geez. What’s sad is, unless we (that’s the public at large, not you, or me, etc) stop responding, they have no incentive to stop trying. Ugh.

  3. Spammers are one of my pet peeves.  As long as a few people bite, they will stay in business.  I don’t get much spam, but besides the notorious spam magnets Yahoo and Hotmail, I’ve found that having a domain is an invitation to spam.  I’m going to look into SpamCop to see if they can help me cause the spammers some trouble.  I would be glad to report every single one if it helps put them out of business.

  4. Report as many as you possibly can. One of the anti-UCE sites out there also recommends that you copy the FCC. They apparently have a special email set up to receive spam complaints.

    For your own sanity, you might want to cycle through email addresses. This is much easier to do if you own your own domain name.

    * Have one email address, a POP box, that catches everything. Don’t ever send or directly receive email at this address.
    * Have one forwarder for your friends and family. Route this to your POP box, above.
    * Have another one for any online commerce you conduct (maybe more – you decide)
    * Have another forwarder for any other sites that require membership
    * have another forwarder (separate from all the others) for your domain administration / hosting / whathaveyou
    * have a few “throwaway” disposables – to give to sites or people you don’t necessarily want to ever hear from again

    Regularly change the nonfamily-friends forwarders (discard the old forwarders and start using new ones – just not something simplistic like adding a number or special character)

    You may want to have more forwarders, or fewer – your choice. This will allow you to discard email addresses once they get coated in spamslime, though. Just don’t forget to update any companies / groups with whom you absolutely must stay in contact – like your domain registrar, etc.

  5. I bet they all don’t make nearly that much. In any business, some people figure it out or have enough headstart to really rake it it.

    As for the emails, well, everyone buying and surfing a lot nowadays has two or three, or not? I got one for ‘all and everything’, one for ‘serious’ e-commerce and one private, for friends only.

    What really worries me is that one day one of those close friends is going to catch a virus that steals adress books – and presto – my well-kept secret (adress) will be sold in the spammer markets.

  6. Y’know, I get a lot of spam—but 95% of it gets filtered out by various POP tools (Thunderbird’s spam filter at home, IHateSpam in Outlook at the office).  The rest?  Just like having to sweep the leaves from the front porch now and again.  Damned if I’m going to let spammers drive me from my mail account or my domain.

  7. I used to report all my spam, but it just got too much. I was spending way too long analyzing headers and tracking down web hosts. I did get a few spammer sites shut down but not enough to give me any real satisfaction. When you track a spammer to a spamnest webhost sitting in Russia or Pakistan you know there’s no chance of nailing them.

    So I resorted to blocking. My domain host uses RBLs which filter most of the junk. I have SpamAssassin running at home to catch anything that gets that far. About 1 per day makes it as far as my inbox, and depending on my mood I’ll either delete it or report it.

  8. Spamcop will analyze the headers for you – which cuts WAY down on the spam-reporting time.

    It’s a bit like voting: you can’t always see the direct results, but every single voice counts.

  9. Shit sells. As long as there are sufficient nimrods that will actually open their wallets and remove a credit card and then enter those numbers into a computer in order to purchase some spammers bullshit then they will exist. Just do what I do. Learn to love it and take an oath before the temporal god on Earth GW (Kill the Brown People) Bush promising if you are ever to meet a spammer that you will drop him off in south central LA with a sign riveted to his chest stating the rap music sucks. That’ll serve em right!

  10. If you want some seriously powerful spam blocking, try SpamBayes. It’s open source, so it’s free and bugs get fixed fast. I’ve been using it for months now and couldn’t be happier.

    After about four days of training it was as effective as the filtering in Thunderbird, and after two months it was blocking 98-99% of spam with hardly any false positives. Very impressive.

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