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18 Jun 2013

Magazine agent list theft spam Email

Scientific American is a well known respectable magazine that's been around forever. So this is a normal renewal notice, right? Wrong. It's spam from a crooked subscription agent.

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2013 08:43:01 +0000


Please renew/order your subscription to SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, 1.00 year(s), 12 issues, at the low price of $ 59.95 BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW.

Please Respond by: June 26, 2013

[my street address]
[my town and zip]


Customer Service Phone Number: (707) 266-6673
Customer Service Email:

The information and attachments contained in this e-mail message are information for client/customer only. They are intended only for the use of the individual named above and the privileges are not waived by virtue of this having been sent by e-mail. If the person actually receiving this e-mail or any other reader of the e-mail is not the named recipient or the employee or agent responsible to deliver it to the named recipient, any use, dissemination, distribution, or copying of the communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately notify us by e-mail and/or telephone.

We offer over 600 magazines as an independent subscription agent between the magazinepublishers and clearinghouses in order to facilitate sales and service. As an agent we do not necessarily have a direct relationship with the publishers or publications that we offer. With your purchase you authorize us and our suppliers to process and clear your order with the publishers directly or by whatever means available. This is a magazine subscription offer, not a bill or invoice. You are under no obligation to either buy a magazine or renew at this time. However your business is greatly appreciated.
Renewals will start after your current subscription has expired. Please allow 6 to 12
weeks for processing. New subscribers please allow 6 to 12 weeks for delivery to start.
If we cannot timely fulfill your order, we may switch your order to other magazines and
give you the option to get a refund. If a renewal, please refer to the magazine mailing label to find the subscription expiration date. All orders are fully cancelable by calling within 7 days after placing an order. After that, in most cases, cancellations will not be accepted. If a cancellation is accepted, it will be subject to a $20.00 cancellation fee. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about other magazines we offer, please call our customer service number on the front of this offer.


Unsubscribe me from this list

The first clue is that even though it had my correct name and mailing address, I do not, in fact, subscribe to Scientfic American. But I do subscribe to Science News, a different respectable magazine, and the second clue is that the address they sent it to is one that I have only given to Science News. Uh, oh.

With recent paper renewal notices, Science News has been including a warning about bogus subscription agents, and now we know why. While there are many entirely legitimate agents (I used a few back when I published a small technical magazine), there are also some bad apples. Since this agent had my Science News e-mail address and mailing address, it's reasonable to assume that they are, or perhaps were, an agent for Science News and they stole the subscription list.

Since I am no good at leaving well enough alone, I clicked on the unsubscribe link, and here's what I saw:

[sleazy opt out]

Hmmn, "SN for SA", what could SN and SA be?

Figuring out where this spam actually came from is tricky. It doesn't contain the required postal mailing address (thereby making it illegal spam under the CAN SPAM law.) The WHOIS for says it's a company in Eagle Point, Oregon. The 707 phone number is in Napa CA, but it's handled by so it's likely a VoIP number that could terminate anywhere.

The host sending the spam was [], a cloud server at Rackspace probably in Chicago. has a proxy registration, and a web server in a different part of Rackspace with no home page.

The List-Unsubscribe: link, which worked at least well enough to get what I showed above, is at which is also at the same Rackspace cloud in Chicago as, but claim to be in Massachusetts, even though they have a UK domain.

Whoever they are, they're probably the same people who've been sending me fake paper renewal notices for Scientific American and Omni and likely other science magazines I've forgotten. I would think the combination of stealing the lists and sending fake renewals should be illegal, but apparently not at a level sufficient to attract legal attention.

  posted at: 18:44 :: permanent link to this entry :: 0 comments
Stable link is


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