New Spam Trick?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I received an email (two, actually) today that I’m pretty sure is spam. If it is, it’s a technique I haven’t seen before — trying to trick webmasters into updating broken links to point to the spammer’s web site. Here’s the email, with my comments interspersed and any mention of external URLs stripped so as not to give this guy any publicity:

I think I must have gotten your email address wrong. I am sending this email to both addresses I could find in hopes you get it this time.

This introduction has lots of problems. He’s sending this to “both addresses” he could find. The two addresses he sent to are not actual accounts, though. Nor are they addresses that I have ever used anywhere. I received them because I have a catch-all account that gets any email that is not sent to a real email account. That leads us to the other problem here: If he had tried to send this email previously, my catch-all would have caught that too, but it didn’t.

Just a friendly note to say that your link to [URL removed] (on your page is out of date. This page is no longer available. If at all possible I would appreciate it if you would update it to our new website at [URL removed]

If by chance I have got the wrong email address for the person responsible for updates to your website could you please forward this email to the right address.

PS. If you could drop me a note when you are done it would be really great.

He was right, the link was broken. So, I went to his site. There was no mention of the site I had previously linked to. Actually, there wasn’t much mention of anything — it looked like a very poorly built portal. A quick whois lookup on both domains showed no connection between the two sites.

I decided to just delete the link from my page. Whether or not this guy was legit, his site was completely irrelevant to what I originally wrote about. Since the site is gone, it’s easier to just get rid of the link.

Anyway, this is a warning to webmasters out there: Do a little research before accepting someone’s link update. Strangers with candy, and all that…