Two days ago, our real estate forums were hit by a Giant SPAM Bomb. I expect this kind of behavior from shady characters in Eastern Europe and Nigeria, but this appears to come from a Consumer Advocate, someone who is supposed to protect the public! The following is the post from this user:
Foreclosures are already up by 53% and millions more are at risk of losing their homes in the next 12 months. This consumer protection website is offering a FREE trip for two to Las Vegas for a historic homeowner protection workshop – check it out!!
This was posted 21 Times on our forums within a period of less than 1 hour (the posts have since then been removed)!
Normally I’d just let something like this go, but the post takes you to the website of American Mortgage Educators, operated by Consumer Advocate Harj Gill. I think there is some serious irony that someone is SPAMMING a web forum to send people to a consumer advocate’s website, and there is NO ONE that forum administrators, users, or the general public hates more than SPAMMERS!
In addition, I wonder why someone who operates a forum on their own site would seemingly go and SPAM other forums. It is just asking for trouble.
Before sharing this information with you, I wanted to give Mr. Gill the opportunity to explain what was going on. I sent him the following email two nights ago, marked urgent, with an image of the post itself.
Today my forums were inundated with 21 SPAM messages in a period of less than one hour, directing people to your website (see attached). I’d like to get an accounting from you as to why you or someone affiliated with you would do such a thing. If it was you, I’d like an explanation. If it was someone who works with or for you, I’d insist that you get an apology from this person for me, and that you take the appropriate disciplinary action. Locating and removing these posts cost me time and money, and damaged my site’s reputation as being a place people can go without being inundated with SPAM.
I look forward to resolving this matter with you.
I have still not yet heard back from anyone. If the forum posts were written by some random person, I’d expect to get a response denying any responsibility. If they came from someone in the office, someone affiliated, or Mr. Gill himself, I’d expect in the very least, an apology. The complete lack of a response sends a bad message, especially since Mr. Gill represents someone who is supposed to look out for people. I don’t know for sure who posted all the messages, but they certainly wanted our users to view the website of Mr. Gill.
The user who posted this SPAM, chimaera9000, using the email [email protected] (note the anonymous email address – not one from the company), posted from the IP Address 188.8.131.52.
Image was of IP Lookup after deleting 20 duplicate posts
Just to be sure that it wasn’t some random website promotion (SEO) company doing the dirty work, I did an IP location lookup and it returned that the post came from a computer in Yelm, Washington.
This city also happens to be the location that a certain website is registered to. All I did to confirm this was look at the website’s whois information:
It is pretty easy to figure out that either Mr. Gill, or someone working for or associated with, him is the one who was SPAMMING us. What are the odds that someone not involved with his company was responsible? Well, Yelm, Washington has a population of 4,409 (2004 census) . . . do I need to really say any more?
The Catch: What about the Free trip for 2 to Vegas that this website is offering?
It turns out that the free trip is just a contest to win a free trip for a “Historic Workshop” for the low everyday price of only $3595.00!
I’m not questioning the workshop itself, but the methods of getting people to find out about it, SPAM. In addition, I think there is certainly some irony that a consumer advocate who is “Standing up for YOUR Rights without Compromise” is offering a “Mortgage Awareness & Protection Workshop” for such an inflated price. Odds are that anyone in need of the info being shared at the workshop are not the type of people who can easily afford that much cash.
Maybe someone should have a workshop on protecting yourself from overinflated workshops!
From the American Mortgage Educators website:
Consumer Advocate Harj Gill
cordially invites you to register for a
chance to win a trip for 2 to the
historical “Know Your Rights” workshop
where 10 powerhouse speakers in their
respective fields will provide you
with the education of a lifetime.
To be held at the
World Renowned Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas, NV
3 nights and 3 days
Roundtrip airfare for 2
Workshop registration for 2
The TOTAL VALUE of this AMAZING package is $3,595
Click here to ENTER FREE DRAWING
(You may register to win as many times as you want – the more you register, the better your chances of winning.)
Tell all of your friends and family about this
ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY
Offer expires Dec. 31, 2006
I guess this whole thing really just rubbed me the wrong way. I thought that everyone would be interested that someone supposedly “working on behalf of the consumer” appears to be nothing but an everyday SPAMMER!