> spam? copyright © 2009–2018 Adam J. Wilt  
Think you got spam from this site? You didn't; here's how to track down the miscreants search

Spam "from"

I don't spam.

I don't condone spam.

The spam did not come from

You may have received unsolicited email, a.k.a. spam, with an return address on it.

I've been "joe jobbed" – spammer(s) are falsifying From: and Reply-To: mail headers to appear as if they come from, i.e.,
From: "Sam Hammer" <>
From: "Melanie Nash" <>
From: "Lorrie Clifford" <>
No such users exist – all of these (and similar) addresses are fictitious.

You may also receive spam from "", because many of the spambots installed on unsuspecting users' PCs raid the mail programs' address books and use the names therein as "from" addresses.

If you trace through the headers of the spam, you will see lines such as "Received: from (", which invariably reference random, often nonexistent IP addresses, not the actual servers hosting my domain. Services like SpamCop can scan these headers for you, helping you determine where the spam originated from and letting you report the offender to the hosting ISP.

Aside from defaming my reputation, the spammers forging these fictitious addresses are in violation of the US Federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 by "materially falsifying header information in multiple commercial email messages and intentionally initiating their transmission" (whether directly or by automated processes, often through "zombie programs" - spamming viruses infiltrated into the computers of unwitting victims).

You have several courses of action in dealing with this and other unwanted spam:
  • Report it to your Internet Service Provider - Some ISPs actively prosecute spammers clogging their subscriber's mailboxes with unwanted junk mail. If your ISP has a contact point (via email or website) for reporting spam, send the entire spam email including the all-important header information to that contact point.
  • Report it to SpamCop – SpamCop maintains a blacklist of spammers and provides online tools for determining–and shutting down–the real source of the spam.
  • Report it to your state Attorney-General or to the Feds – (Note: if you're outside the USA, ignore this step!) The CAN-SPAM Act mostly leaves it to the states to enforce the law. If your state provides a contact point for reporting spam that violates the law, use it. It may also be possible to report it to the Federal Government for enforcement purposes; if anyone has useful pointers on how to do this, please contact me so I can publish that information here.
  • Ignore it and delete it, or use a spam filter – This is the easiest option. While it's worth reporting spam to SpamCop and your ISP, the spammers keep moving from account to account. Like other parasites, they're very difficult to squash permanently. I highly recommend using a good spam filter on your email system to keep this junk from cluttering your inbox. While I use the excellent filtering built into Apple's Mail program, there are many suitable add-ons for other mail clients.

Contact me via email (but not about spam, please!)

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Last updated 2018.05.24