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18 Jun 2013
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.
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:
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 publisherspayment.com says it's a company in Eagle Point, Oregon. The 707 phone number is in Napa CA, but it's handled by bandwidth.com so it's likely a VoIP number that could terminate anywhere.
The host sending the spam was server14.somdattrealestate.com [126.96.36.199], a cloud server at Rackspace probably in Chicago. somdattarealestate.com 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 client3.interspireemailmarketing.co.uk which is also at the same Rackspace cloud in Chicago as publisherspayment.com, 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.
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