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Thursday, 06 October 2005

Spam Return Domain

 mistersquid  has been online since late 2001. mistersquid doesn’t get much traffic, is strictly a homegrown affair. He doesn’t even have a donation link. If you’re reading this, chances are high you’re a friend, a  Slashdot  reader, or a bot. The point of this paragraph is that this site holds almost zero interest for the entire population of the Internet.

Yesterday, just after 12 pm EST, monyiliev phoned my home line. He was not pleased that I had originally posted his public and private information in the post below. I owe monyiliev an apology. I had published his phone number and that was private information. His home address is located on his company’s web page, and so is public information. Connecting his user name, his real name, and his public information, however, is something not even eBay does. I do not believe I was breaking the law by doing so myself, but I had no right to publish his phone number under any circumstance, and for doing so I am sincerely regretful.

monyiliev and I worked out our differences. My main points were that I did not appreciate his leaving negative feedback in retaliation and that all of this could have been cleared up had he responded to either of the emails I sent him over a three-month period. If he was not going to refund $3, then he could have communicated that and given me the opportunity to pursue something different or let the matter drop. Forcing me to drop the matter by not responding to email is bad business practice. monyiliev agreed, and I would like to believe he will in the future be more responsive to his eBay buyers. We also agreed to mutually withdraw our feedback ratings. The feedback opinions, however, will remain.

About four hours later, at 4:23 pm EST, mistersquid.com started receiving notifications of failure-to-deliver from postmasters worldwide at an initial rate of ten an hour and increasing to fourteen per hour by 9 pm EST. At that point, I began automatically bouncing email for mistersquid.com that does not have an existing account. The notifications of failure-to-deliver mainly involved spam for fake rolexes, and many of the emails included attachments with binary payloads to infect new hosts.

This post is not an accusation, its intent in keeping with the intention of the following email I sent to monyiliev

This is not an accusation. Please disregard this if you know nothing about this. Unfortunately, as of today I have found myself the recipient of a massive amount of spam. I am in the process of investigating the matter and will report my findings, if appropriate, both the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the state of New York. It is my sincere hope that this email surge has nothing to do with you and/or will clear itself up soon.

To his credit, monyiliev responded promptly

This has nothing to do with us. We respect everyone's privacy, and do our best to keep it that way.

All the best,

Frankly, I don’t believe monyiliev, but I admit that my suspicion has no supporting evidence and is largely post hoc ergo propter hoc. While that’s what philosophers call it, most rational human beings call it intuition, though I admit my intuition could be misguided.

For now, I have begun researching methods for discovering who is responsible for making  mistersquid  the return domain for a spam network. I know the process will be circuitous and time intensive and that by the time I educate myself enough about methods to discover who is abusing my beloved  mistersquid , the perpetrator(s) may no longer be discoverable. Still, I don’t suppose it could take as long as it took me to write my dissertation.

In the meantime, I have reported my intuition regarding monyiliev and this domain abuse to

the  Federal Bureau of Investigations 
the  Food and Drug Administration 
the  Federal Trade Commission 

Given  mistersquid  doesn’t make any money and is, strictly speaking, small fry, I don’t expect any of these governmental offices to prioritize investigating who is abusing my domain. The most I’m hoping for is that my report will help bring into being a miraculous cross-referencing of spam offenders in the back channels of these organizations.

I wonder in which field I’m going to earn that second doctorate.

Tuesday, 04 October 2005

eBay Blues

I received  my first negative rating on eBay  for an  item  for which I was the buyer. I paid immediately and received an item that is significantly damaged. The item is a Griffin Technology PowerMate and its underside is gouged.

I emailed the seller,  monyliev , on 15 July 2005 about the problem asking for a small consideration: a $3 refund for an item for which I paid $39.50. I didn’t necessarily want $3 back, but I did want some acknowledgement of the damaged item, an apology, a swap. Something. While I appreciate the functionality, aesthetics are important to me. Hey, I’m a Mac user.

I was summarily ignored. On 4 September, I sent another email notifying monyiliev that the item “WAS DAMAGED.” More ignoring. eBay allows users to leave feedback for up to 90 days (in this case until 12 October 2005), and on 30 September I decided that I should tell other eBayers about my bad experience with monyiliev. I pulled my punch, though, giving him a neutral rating captioned with

Item damaged. Unresponsive to 3 emails sent over 3 months. NEGATIVE.

While I was mistaken that I’d sent 3 emails (I’d only sent 2), I had given monyiliev ample opportunity to contact me, explained clearly there was a real problem, and left feedback which reflected the nature of my transaction.

That same day, monyiliev retaliates with negative feedback.

One of those ebayers trying to scheme money back Aking $3back Be aware. NEGATIVE

I requested monyiliev’s user information from eBay and phoned him, leaving a message (under 30 seconds) explaining that I did not appreciate his disingenuous feedback, that the item is damaged, that I was not necessarily looking for $3, and that he should call me at his first possible convenience. Of course, he will do no such thing. Still. It’s the principle of the thing.

Since then, I debated initiating a “Buy It Now” transaction solely for a second opportunity to leave negative feedback for him. I considered phoning him at 6:30 this morning to tell him just what I really thought about him and his business practices.

I settled with kvetching about all this and consolidating his publicly available information:

eBay user ID: monyiliev
[Private information removed, 5 October 2005]

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