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trolling e-mails and trouble contacting friends


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I've been using e-mail to talk to a lot of my friends but I've nticed a disturbing pattern lately. I haven't been able to reach my friends via e-mail but I'm getting a heck of a lot of spam and virus e-mail and spoofed messages. This got to be a problem last summer and is getting worse as time goes by.

I recently sent e-cards to some of my friends at the holidays because I haven't been able to hail them through regular e-mail. So I get the message saying that e-mail has been picked up by so and so but I don't geta response from my friend. Okay, maybe they're busy with the holidays. But then one of my friends allegedly did send me a holiday greeting , too. It even gave the e-mail address of the sender. I go there and read the e-card then I try to send my friend a regular e-mail using the address that I've got in my address book and which the card greeting service sent to me as the recipient e-mail address. But guess what? Suddenly the e-mail address of my friend is no longer valid. Even if I try to copy paste the e-mail address into the "to" box and send it off I get a bounce back.

I also have been a member of a pen pal group for many years and have never had trouble with the service but now I get trol messages, viruses and whatnot in my box. And when I do the copy paste of the e-mail adds of the folks in the pen pal list and attempt to send e-mail, it gets bounced back each time.

I have to emphasise that I met some of my current pen pals through this same servise (and it is a legitimate pen pal group and not a spam or pornographic service or any other unsavory thing). I know that spam is on the rise and people are sending spoof mail but this is very serious. I've also received troll spam giving locations near to where I reside which suggests that the troublemaker(s) may know something about my own location.

I would like to know if it's possible for the troll(s) to have intercepted my outgoing mail and reorganized it and sent bad e-mail to my friends to prevent us from talking to each other? I generally use the public terminal at a local library and although I'm careful with my password, the site administartor is still able to scope e-mails used on the terminals. And this did not really become a problem until I began to use the terminals at that particular location. But since the town isn't really all that large there are very few options for sending and getting e-mail. I'm also concerned that should I get e-mail set up at my home, couldn't the trolls intercept the e-mail from my home? I have also received crank calls and at times I wonder if they are related. An aquaintance told me that many of the crank calls can be and are computer generated these days.

I know this is a long post but I really need help with this problem. Many of the folks I keep in touch with via e-mail are very dear friends of mine and we always keep in touch with each other. I don't want trolls to interfere with that. Any and all advice is welcome.


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Your query is so wide open in so many directions. First of all, the way things work. You type in an e-mail on a computer .. there's a copy there. There's a copy on the network server of the network that computer is on. There's a copy on that network's ISP system. There's a copy on the receiving ISP's syetem. There will be a copy on the recipient's computer. And that's just a 'clean' example .. there may be a dozen more systems that the e-mail in question travels from your screen to thier screen. If you want to get paranoid, there are many places for someone to "look" at your e-mail. The real question would actually be more like .. what is in your e-mail that someone might risk getting fired, charged, et. for taking the time to track down your e-mail in amongst all the other e-mails clogging up the same systems? You make no mention of using tools like PGP, which some proponents liken sending plain e-mail to sending your snail-mail on a postcard .. it's open to anyone that wants to take the time to pull your postcard out of that mound of letters that other people put inside of an evelope as a means to prevent damage / exposure / mis-handling of the contents.

As far as your receiving more and more bad e-mail ... not sure where you've been as that increase has been the news of the day for years (only recently confounded by an AOL press release stating that they have managed to block/filter enough spam that it looks like spammers are finally giving up on mass AOL doistribution?) As a part of that, perhaps some of your "dear friends" have given up their 'old' e-mail addresses due to getting over-run by spam spew, maybe that address was forged into a spam run and the results of that caused them to change addresses. It sounds like you need to call some of those dear friends to find out what's going on ...????

Sending e-cards ???? Ouch!! Just guessing at numbers, but a majority of those damn things are nothing but scams to gather up "known-good/valid" e-mail addresses.

I don't know what town you may be referring to, but .... e-mails include header data that identify where it came from and where it's headed. The data I see (as Moderator) places this post as coming from a town that has a major university. 12-13 years ago, I regularly hit a Denny's there on my road trips to/from the east coast. Recall one stop, looking/feeling my best, having been on the road for 10+ hours, the last 3+ while running with a truck convoy running at 85+ mph (CB still has its uses <g>) ... was particularly knocked out by a young lady .. in amongst the bars-have-closed, party-ran-out-of-beer crowd .. she was working hard at prepping for an upcoming test .. algebra/calculus/something along that line ... she was majoring in Advertising, if I recall correctly ... I remember stepping her through a couple problems, cleared some misconceptions, solved another problem in a way different than suggested by her instructor which seemed to make more sense to her, etc ... I distinctly also remember that she never sent me any e-mail either <g> ... suggesting that rejection happens all the time and maybe some of those folks don't want to talk to you anymore ..????

"I generally use the public terminal at a local library" .. not your most trusted site to be using for personal use .... The library system here is a "donated service" (others would call it a tax deduction) by a local ISP ... and I know for a fact that these systems are a headache to maintain due to the range of clueless users to the hackers elite getting their hands on them and the library staff having no concept of the Internet experience (beyond that young boys seem to like pictures of naked women <g>) .. on and on ...

"crank calls generated by computers" ...???? Mainstream marketers do use computers, predictive dialers, etc. that certainly use computers ... however, the term "crank call" usually infers something else, not usually under the control of a computer.

Bottom line, you appear to be asking here for someone to evaluate the way you use and handle your e-mail. That's a bit hard to do, especially when having no view of the stuff that's has got you going. If you can find the time, just start reading other Topics here .. you're bound to pick up bits of knowledge here and there, eventually enough bits will accrue and that light will go on ... things will start making sense <g>

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There are no "Trolls" intercepting your messages.  :D

Post one of the reject messages here and someone will be able to help you.


Wazoo and Merlyn,

I'm using the computers at the location you hinted at in your above reply because it's easier than using the terminals at the public library. But as a matter of fact I have been getting an increase in spam when I was using the public library. But I will peruse the topics here to see what more I can pick up about how spammers operate. But I do have this question, though. A couple of years ago I had a problem with spam and reported it to my e-mail service and that's how I found out about spam cop. In the meantime I had been attempting to teach myself how to interpret headers to ascertain whether or not a message may have been spammed or not. At that time I learned that the IP of each e-mail must be different whenever a message is sent out even if the domain name is the same eg happy[at]yaddayada.net with IP 123.456.78 and a big indicator of spam would be if the IP is identical each time*.

So after a while I got so inundated with spam that I tried to ignore it and for a while I was able to do so but then when I began using the terminals at the public library system I noticed an increase in the spam, the bouncebacks of sent messages, etc. Like I said above, I also am a member of a pen pal group and I got replies from new members but I decided to check the headers. Well, one particular individual had the exact same IP for three of the incoming messages. In the past I understood that recycled IPs were spam so my real question is if I get e-mail's from so and so but the IP is identical each time, is that an example of spam, hoaxes, etc? Because the sender seems "okay" in all other respects, I don't see any virus attachments just personalized e-mail as I had been receiving from people who are also members of the same pen pal group. BTW, could I post one of the rejected messages without revealing my own e-mail identity? I'd probably have to give you the domain name of the recipient so that you would know whether or not the e-mail addy is fake, wouldn't I?

I took a semester of computer science at university but we weren't dealing with internet services so everything about the Net I learned by trial and error. So I hope to get good advice here from you folks at spamcop. :D


*I just made that sequence up, I hope it's not a real IP

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At that time I learned that the IP of each e-mail must be different whenever a message is sent out even if the domain name is the same  eg happy[at]yaddayada.net with IP 123.456.78 and a big indicator of spam would be if the IP is identical each time


Sadly I think you'll find that the experience of most people is the opposite.

The source of the spam as denoted by the IP address of the originating mail server invariably changes. Most of the duplicates of spam I receive, for example, will be identical in content - even in the supposed originating Email address, but will have come via a different mail server and therefore IP address. Genuine Email rarely changes IP address of the original server except where a large ISP has multiple mail servers with different IP addresses.

The advantage of the SpamCop blocklist is its ability to identify which servers are currently being used to distribute spam and its flexibility which allows the server to be delisted once the spam stops flowing. So, comparing the originating IP with the SCBL would be a better indication that an Email might be spam.


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At that time I learned that the IP of each e-mail must be different whenever a message is sent out even if the domain name is the same eg happy[at]yaddayada.net with IP 123.456.78 and a big indicator of spam would be if the IP is identical each time*.

I'm thinking that something was lost in the translation. The IP addresses found within an e-mail header are the Internet Protocol Addresses of the servers involved in handling that e-mail. For example, a local ISP here may have 1,000 users that send/recieve e-mail via the same server, so all mail from all of then will reflect the same IP address of that ISP's e-mail server. And all mail sent from those folks will keep showing that IP until the ISP makes some changes.

I'm suspecting that somewhere along the line, someone confused the "IP must be different" while explaining something about the "Message-ID" string. Most main-stream e-mail apps will generate a new Message-ID string for each message, usually based on a bit of randon-number generator, possibly tied into things like tome of day, message length, subject line contents, whatever ... just to attempt at making that ID string unique. On the other hand, this is also open to forgery, so it's not something to place an extreme amount of trust in ....

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