Angsuman's Java Blog

News and views from my perspective as a Chief Software Architect and CEO. Focused on Java and Web Technologies.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Spammers: One down, thousands more to go. Kudos to Plaxo

Spammers: One down, thousands more to go.

Today morning I received a spam which originated from plaxo servers. It was interesting. Someone named Mr. Richard Milford felt he had my contact information on file and requested me to update it!

Here's the exerpt of the email:


I'm updating my address book. Please take a moment to update your latest contact information. Your information is stored in my personal address book and will not be shared with anyone else. Plaxo is free, if you'd like to g ive it a try.

Richard Milford

I never know anyone with that name. Then I looked at the information he had about me - my name & email address only! Something you can easily find by a crawler from my webside.
And I have never contacted a mortage company in my life, nor have voluntarily given my information to any.

This was clearly a case of spam, a wilful disregard of the laws and using my resources without my consent.

And he also gave me his contact information, see below.
I felt this clearly required some action on my part, more than just instructing spambayes to treat it as spam. Also I am afraid if I do so, many genuine emails from plaxo may be given similar treatment automatically.

So I wrote a polite email to as show below:


The email was sent to me through system by one of your member. I do not know him, never heard of him. Looking at his vCard I found he sells mortgage. I have never contacted any mortgage agency in my life, nor have given my info to any. This is clearly a spam and in violation of our company policy and as I verified it is also in violation of your policies.
Please ensure that your system is not used to send spams to in future.

PS. I am including the full email as well as the vCard of the abuser as attachment.
PPS. I would appreciate if you would let me know what action has been taken against the member.

I immediately received an confirmation of receipt email.

Thank you for taking the time to contact the Abuse Investigations
Department at Plaxo. We appreciate your help in reporting potential
violations of our Terms of Service.

We take all reports of abuse very seriously, and will respond back to you,
if necessary. If you would like to check the status of an abuse report,
simply respond back to this message and someone will contact you shortly.

Thank you again.

Plaxo Abuse Investigations

This was followed by a response from a Plaxy official:


Thank you for taking the time to contact Plaxo. I am the Trust Officer
here at Plaxo and I am responsible for addressing Trust and Security
issues regarding the usage of Plaxo.

I'll take a look at the member's account and history, and if I find the
user to have violated our Privacy Policy, their service will be revoked
and you should no longer receive further emails.

If you receiving any further spam messages, please feel free to report
them to

Thank you for reporting this abuse.

Stacy Martin

A very prompt & polite response, if I may say so. I was very much impressed.

This was followed by a short email which informed me everything I wanted to know, all done within 2-3 hours.


You wanted to know what action was taken. It wasn't much of an
investigation. The member has been disabled and will no longer have
access to our service under his currently registered email addresses.

Thank you,

Stacy Martin
Stacy Martin
Plaxo Trust Officer 'Stay Connected'

I am very much impressed with the promptness of Plaxo in this regard and their swift response. In fact I started looking to get myself enrolled in Plaxy, because I felt they are someone I can trust with my contact information.

You may be thinking what's the big deal. He can surely open another email account with say hotmail and repeat the procedure! Sure he can but now he cannot use Plaxo to keep his contact list updated which are associated with his actual email address. Also you are even less likely to heed to a spam which comes from (maybe an actual email, don't try it guys). And its a bother. Also this posting is bound to be read by few people who would give a second thought before approaching him for his mortgage needs.

Now I have also written an email to I will update this column with the results ... keep reading.

Here's the contact information the spammer gave me in case you wanted to do business with him .

Name: Richard Milford
Company: MortgageCap Financial
Phone: 212-631-4272