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Spam dumpster diving

A gigabyte of email addresses for grabs

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Anti spam activists struck gold this week when they found a website, which contains thousands of zipfiles, left behind by or nicked from a spammer. Nearly a gigabyte of email addresses, unzipped.

So, where is it from? Almost certainly from TornadoPromotions.com Inc, an American company that offers services to send e-mail advertisements to as many as 150 million consumers at a time.

Its growing list of clients includes Morgan, Colling & Gilbert, Recreational Factory Warehouse, Legends Sports Management Group, American Liberty Financial and Body N Soul Spa, to name but a few.

Recently, the company purchased a 2,500-square-foot house, equipped with a 62-inch television set, an espresso/martini bar with Starbuck's-like retro furniture and walls draped in bold red, green and yellow, according to news reports.

CEO Ernie Falco III says he runs a "decent e-mail promotion company. We don't do any adult content, nothing vulgar," he was quoted as saying in a San Francisco Chronicle article. "We don't do any Viagra stuff either."

Is he telling the truth? The files do contain addresses targeted toward "Adult". Although, targeted may not be the right word here. Under "Church" it has one address "peepshow@..." Some addresses have expired long ago, according to Usenet users who began feverishly searching for their own name. So much for accuracy.

Falco and his business partner Ryan Totka created a CD-ROM database containing 40 million e-mail addresses, which were culled from the Internet using e-mail harvesting software. Lately, the emphasis has shifted somewhat. The company now provides Internet clients with top listings on major search engines. Which is why they left the dumpster in the open? ®

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