Gmail Spam
December 5, 2004 12:19 AM   Subscribe

I have taken specific care not to let my gmail address fall into the hands of anybody besides people I deal with in person- friends and family and such- and after several months of having this account be spam-free, today I finally got a few. How on earth do they find me?
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Computers & Internet (32 answers total)
Name generation. (, etc).
posted by easyasy3k at 12:33 AM on December 5, 2004

I've recently noticed an uptick in spam in my Gmail account too. (from 1 e-mail/week to maybe 5-10/day.) No clue.
posted by Vidiot at 12:34 AM on December 5, 2004

For Vicodin, right? Well, Vicodin and software. Slightly odd misspellings of your name in the body text? Ditto with me, and several other people I know.

Given that the one of the joys of gmail was that you could finally get, or indeed anything that resembled normal english, automatic name generation's going to work a lot better for spamming new gmail accounts than almost any others. Unless you actually chose, your spam filter's going to be getting quite a workout fairly soon.
posted by flashboy at 12:46 AM on December 5, 2004

Response by poster: so you're saying my highly ethnic name is what kept spam out of my inbox for so long?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:58 AM on December 5, 2004

Response by poster: and YES- lots of vicodin, a little software.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 1:00 AM on December 5, 2004

Ditto on the Vicodin and the Software. Whysat?
posted by stray at 1:40 AM on December 5, 2004

Confirming the trend, I've experienced exactly the same thing. Googles spam filter seems to be better than Hotmails though.
posted by bering at 2:47 AM on December 5, 2004

Me too. First four spams ever, and I've had the thing for months.
posted by coelecanth at 4:11 AM on December 5, 2004

Confirming as well. Emails about Vicodin -- about 5-10 a day,
posted by jabberwock at 4:17 AM on December 5, 2004

Makes sense -- the spam (beautifully filtered) is coming to my gmail account that is My other two gmail accounts -- nothing yet.
posted by JanetLand at 5:26 AM on December 5, 2004

Me too.
posted by Succa at 6:57 AM on December 5, 2004

One major spammer can put together ten million spams in a day, no problem. They all have automatic username generation software. They have text files of first names and surnames that run into the megabytes. So they come upon gmail and let their program riff on it. Then, of course, their program waits for the bounces to come back. The names that don't bounce back are recorded as they obviously got through to someone. The ones that do bounce back are tried again in a few months.

Why the Vicodin and the software? Because whichever spammer or spam group is targtting gmail at the moment is being paid to advertise those two things. You'll see this stuff come and go - next week it'll be Cialis and Rolex or somesuch...

Luckily, the gmail spam filter appears to be one of the best I've come across and has caught just about all spams that have appeared in any of my gmail accounts so far...
posted by humuhumu at 7:07 AM on December 5, 2004

I'd second that auto name generation theory.... here's my spam from my gmail account.

Shawnleon All must go - Rolex Watches
Shawnleong 75% Off All New Software - TOP quality software:
Shawnlepine Best software prices in the world - TOP quality software:
Shawnleow cheap oem s0ftware shipping worldwide - TOP quality software:
Shawnleo s0ftware at incredibly low prices - T
Shawnleo 75% Off All New Software - TOP quality software:
posted by sleslie at 7:12 AM on December 5, 2004

No spam yet, but I just got this out of the blue. Anyone have any idea what it means? (Cause I have no clue who this person is or what he's asking for)

"i am the leader of a clan called ^Military Mayhem^ and I would like to know
if i can be hooked up with one of your teamspeak servers you advertised for
free. i hate the company im with right now, G-Fore Gaming, Really suck!!!
please e-mail me back if you can set me one up. thanks"

posted by CunningLinguist at 7:38 AM on December 5, 2004

Dictionary attacks are a strong possibility. The other possibility is that some of your contacts have "zombie" computers that have given up your e-mail address from their address books to spammers via a trojan.
posted by adamrice at 7:42 AM on December 5, 2004

CunningLinguist: A clan is a computer gaming group. Teamspeak is Internet conferencing software used for voice chat.
posted by SPrintF at 7:54 AM on December 5, 2004

Yep, name generation it is.
For some reason I get only Brazilian spam.
posted by signal at 8:01 AM on December 5, 2004

Thanks SPrintF.
Now I'm just left wondering why me. Maybe he mispelled the email address or something.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:04 AM on December 5, 2004

I've gotten three Nigerian spams total....all neatly caught. Only one false positive, and that was on a distributed digest mail.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 8:51 AM on December 5, 2004

suddenly 10 spams hit my gmail acct, all selling "cheap rolex watches", all addressed to my proper username but with a series of numbers tacked on ( all were instantly filtered tho', as i didn't even notice them 'til this thread prompted me to look.

10 spam aren't bad, considering my domain's default acct used to get several hundred per day, til i disabled it.
posted by t r a c y at 9:01 AM on December 5, 2004

Same here. I get a couple every day, now.
posted by cribcage at 9:19 AM on December 5, 2004

Spammers are incredibly efficient. I have a domain that I bought long ago before spam was a problem. I'm sure that addresses within the domain are scatterered around in old usenet and mailing list archives. It's been years since the domain was hooked up to anything. Last week I finally park the domain somewhere and start setting up mail. Before my first test message gets through I got spammed.
posted by rdr at 9:22 AM on December 5, 2004

I've just started getting these too. Same thing - all (incorrect) versions of my user name. In each case the first four letters *are* correct though. Software, generic drugs, rolexes. They're all filtered.
posted by carter at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2004

Signal: I've been getting the Brazilian spam too (as well as the drug and software spam mentioned by others). I assumed it was because I used that address on Orkut. (And now I hate Orkut even more.)
posted by icetaco at 10:25 AM on December 5, 2004

I just started getting the Vicodin ones. They are getting caught by the spam filter though.
posted by AstroGuy at 11:15 AM on December 5, 2004

ditto with the vicodin. my username is in the dictionary ("senior") so I'm guessing I'm first on the list for spammers. at least the spam filter catches about 99% of them.

has anyone else been getting lots of spams that appear to come from friend's email addresses?
posted by krunk at 1:24 PM on December 5, 2004

I've gotten a ton of spam on my Gmail account (which I've been using for everything, including account signups/registration and such), but as some have mentioned Gmail seems to have the best spam filter out there. I can only remember MAYBE 1 or 2 squeaking through after hundreds, and I think 1 false positive in the early days.
posted by swank6 at 1:47 PM on December 5, 2004 too. But, the question is what can be done? Can we fake bounce-backs?
posted by vacapinta at 2:38 PM on December 5, 2004

I just started getting spam on my Gmail account. I'd never given the address to anybody, and it's my last name -- Jaquith -- which is very, very rare. They must have some bad-ass Rumpelstiltskin software.
posted by waldo at 3:05 PM on December 5, 2004

I got two identical pieces of spam asking me to support the Ukrainian opposition by sending money to such-and-such account number.

It's pretty weird because I haven't given my address out to anyone, and my last name is uncommon enough that I was able to use it as my gmail account name, and I only registered a couple of weeks ago.
posted by oaf at 11:38 PM on December 5, 2004

It's just a computer script trying all possiblities. I've got a 4 character hotmail account and I get all the spam with that. Google at least seems to be able to sort it properly I've only had 1 false positive (which was pretty spammy I must admit) and no false negitives. Contrast with MS where S:N is about 1:500.
posted by Mitheral at 7:54 AM on December 6, 2004

Is anyone else getting spam in gmail that is addressed to a username other than your proper one? For an example, I'm getting a decent number of spam emails with to: addresses in the format:

[first 3-5 characters of my gmail username][other random words, chars]

My guess is such "fuzzy matching" is meant to help avoid addressing errors, but in my case I'm ending up with a "catch-some" for spam...
posted by lpqboy at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2004

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