Email Abuse

Spam, Chain Letters, Hoaxes, Fraud, Viruses & Worms

Got Spam? The FTC email address to forward illegal spam to is uce@ftc.gov. Be sure to include complete header data. There is a lot of junk email that may be illegal in Washington State. Some citizens even fight back within the legal system.

The "Nigerian" 419 Scam seems to be very active. There are many variations of this. It is a very common Internet scam. For general e-mail hoax information including bogus virus warnings check out Hoax Busters.

One of many other scams was reported in a Seattle Weekly article.

If you are tired of receiving chain-letters, then refer those who send them to the Anti-Chain Letter. While there are many viruses infecting unsecured computers, there are also many hoaxes about non-existent viruses. Some even try to convince naive people to delete certain system files from their own computers. In order to help educate those who need it, there is the Gullibility Virus Warning.

Certain viruses and worms do exploit security holes that from an infected computer can send email that may appear to be from someone whose email address was harvested from the address book or other targeted files of the infected computer, you may even receive an infected email that appears to be from someone you know, but in fact it may not be from them at all. The "from" line can be faked by viruses and worms (and scammers). Some ISPs have unsophisticated automated email managers (auto-responders) that will "return" an infected email to the email address in the "from" line, even though that is not the real source of the email, these poorly thought out processes just help to spread the virus or worm. Two online articles about Klez and the "from line" are Klez Don't Believe the From Line and Klez Worm, Not Sender, Hates You.

Learn about reading email headers, the "from" line is often forged (for deception) by illegal spammers and by some viruses and worms in an attempt to fool people and some automated email handling software about where the email really came from. The forging of an email address is often called "spoofing". By examining email headers you might be better able to determine the true source of an email that has a spoofed return address. Many email reader programs default configuration settings hide email headers from plain view, there are ways to get email programs to reveal the full, unmodified email header data.

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Updated March 16th, 2004 - webeditors@scn.org