So I discovered today that I was getting a lot of spam mail that slid right through my filters...most of it by a company called Diversion.
I looked at the headers and found a few interesting things:
1) All the recipients had "real names", and the spam was directly addressed to them, as opposed to being bcc'd or sent to "undisclosed recipients".
From: Diversion Media <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Mark Scribbins <email@example.com> <-- like that
Subject: Get to Know Diversion.com for Physicians - at Your Fingertips
2) The links on the site, while going through a "Redirector" all matched, and was a sane domain, which corresponded with the link text, and which in
turn was the same as the email domain. It wasn't a long subdomain, nor was it loaded with random letters or characters.
3) The text was relevant to the subject line, which in turn was relevant to the content, which was readable instead of the markovian crap I'd expect.
I looked at one of the articles...this one, and it's reasonably well-written and
informative. Sure, a bit fluffy, but a decent read.
This didn't smell like spam to me.
I looked over their site, and found a "contact us" link. I called the number for their "advertising" department, and a person answered. Okay, too
The conversation went like this:
"Hey, how's it going. I seem to be on your mailing list several times, and I wanted to let you know that the whole domain goes to me, and I'm
getting several distinct copies of these emails from you. Normally I'd report this stuff to spamcop or whatnot, but it seems you guys are legit.
Like, if I were a doctor, I'd probably be interested in this stuff, it's well written and informative. So what I'm guessing probably happened is that
you guys bought a bogus list, and I'm just calling to let you know you may want to go back to whomever sold it to you and take it up with them."
I gave them my domain name, and was told "yeah, unfortunately this isn't the first call like this I've gotten", and "thanks a lot, not everyone would
have done what you did." (Again, not things I'd expect a spammer to say.)
Now, over time, I've gotten several spams that claim "PHYSICIAN LISTING!!!" or "50000 US MD LISTINGS!!!1!". And chances are,
Diversions either bought such a list (how accurate could such a list be?), or someone who seemed more legit bought such a list and re-sold it to them.
Welcome to the ponzi-driven internets :)
What this also indicates to me is that there are a number of services out there that "discover" domains that accept all domain-bound email. I
suppose, historically speaking, I should look for the first emails sent to those services. (As I keep lots of email, and lots of logs, this isn't
What it also means is that in my quest for better filters, I can now track everyone else who uses those lists, since the list-generators have managed to create a unique fingerprint
for their lists. While I don't expect anyone to share with me where they bought it from or whatnot, I suppose if I were in a different field, I could
offer to help legitimize these folks -- adding better verp detection, better feedback loop awareness, and the rest. And quite frankly, if I wind up blocking an otherwise legit site like this, because they bought a shitty list...oh well.
Somehow this reminds me of when I was parked in Home Depot, and there was someone running around, putting flyers on everyone's windshields, saying
"Advertise in the Pennysaver, call this number!" Huh? If the Pennysaver is such an effective means of advertisting and communications, why do you
need to be paper-spamming cars?
I mean, let's face it, marketing data is an asset, and I suspect, as Diversions is discovering right now, you get what you pay for. Or better still,
let the buyer beware!