Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Confessions of a Spam King

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Spam. We're reading about it everywhere now and we're not talking potted meat. It's the kind that clogs up your email box every day trying to sell you everything including the moon.
Well I have a special treat for you. An interview with the "spam king".

Of course, that's not his real name. He's afraid to divulge that for obvious reasons. This person started using spam as a marketing method in the late 90's sending out 100's of thousands of emails a day and he kindly offered to tell us about how he does his dirty deeds.

Wade - Thanks for joining us today. What got you into the spam marketing industry?

SK - Money, pure and simple. Of course more people willing to spend money on the Internet really got things going. It wasn't until about 2 years ago that mass email blasting got effective although I've been spamming for years.

Wade - How many people do you send email too?

SK - Oh, I've cut back a bit but anywhere between 300,000 to 800,000 a day. I'm a small time operator. The big time guys are sending out 10 times that number every day.

Wade - You're kidding! How do they get all of those email addresses?

SK - Ahhh, I'll fill you in on a few secrets about email addresses. It is very easy to get lists of email addresses either by purchasing them or "harvesting" them. I tend to use both methods.

Wade - What is harvesting?

SK - Harvesting involves running specialized programs that go out and collect email addresses. Some scan newsgroups and pull out addresses others can be setup to work by city or zip code.
It doesn't take long running these programs to pull thousands of email addresses. With the suite of programs I use I can get about 100,000 an hour. The easiest way to get email lists is to buy them. Most good harvesting programs are expensive and for the part time spammer, lists are more cost effective.

Wade - Don't ISP's shut down spammers now?

SK - Your good ones do. But there are ways around that. Either switch ISP's every time you get busted or invest in one of the spamming programs. The program I use opens 12 channels at a time to send out emails. The ISP can't really tell what's happening other than heavy traffic. ISP's catch spammers when they get complaints from their customers. The software I use even stops that from happening. It scrambles the headers in the packets so you can't backtrack the email to the sender. You can't complain if you don't know where it's coming from.

Wade - OK, you've got all these email addresses and the program to send them out. How much money can you make?

SK - Now that's the million-dollar question. A lot depends on the product you're selling and your imagination. You've got to come up with a Subject line that catch's the attention of the reader. Most of the spam I've seen out there is very unimaginative and you can tell its spam right away. A good subject line will get your email opened and that's what counts.
Also, use a sender ID that is interesting. <> will automatically get deleted whereas will tend to get opened, as it looks legit. Another trick is to change the date on your system 10 days forward. This way, your email always stays on top in the email box until the reader manually deletes it. AS far as making money goes, you have to send out a lot of email to make any money. The response percentage is around .001 percent so you can see that it's a big numbers game.

Wade - Do you have any suggestions for our readers on how to stop spam from getting into their email boxes?

SK - You will never be able to stop all the spam but a good spam filter will help. You have to work a bit to set them up but it's worth it if you want to stop spam. Get one that works off of keywords in the message as subject line related ones are easy to get around. Don't use your regular email address to fill out anything on the Internet. Setup an account at one of the free services for use when filling out forms online. You would be amazed at the number of websites that sell email addresses from users filling out online forms. The number one thing I'll pass on is don't respond to any offers sent via email. AS soon as you respond you make it legal for them to email you again and you've just verified that the email address is a good one.

Wade - Any final words you would like to pass on?

SK - Sure. Keep on putting your email address out there for me.
I'm always looking for a new email address to add to my spam list!

Wade Andrews is a writer for the Austin Business Times and host of The Talk of Silicon Hills on Talk Radio 1370 AM in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at

The above article was first printed in the Austin Business Times Austin, TX. If you have any questions for the Spam King a temporary email address has been set up at

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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, December 31 2002, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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