Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 24, 2007

They Get Spam

With blogging comes the need to have some public email address. This inevitable attracts unsolicited stuffs - between fifty and two hundred mails per day in my case.

The usual sender is some doctor that promisses to enlarge one of my body parts or the son of a dead Nigerian government official who needs my help to transfer a million bucks to my bank account. Most of such mails get filtered automatically, but here is an extrodinary one that escaped the process. Some spammer is posing as a law firm:


That email was send from some "temp3" account with the subject "URGENT LEGAL LETTER".

I use the Advice on SPAM issued by the security center of CERN in Switzerland. The CERN folks invented the World Wide Web so they know a bit or two about this. They say (original emphasis):

SPAM and virus emails can be disguised to trick you into reading the email and/or performing an action. Here are examples of some techniques to help you recognise them:

  • fake email addresses: [..] Fake addresses may be used to send viruses. If the email looks suspicious then delete it and do not open the attachments.
  • enticing subjects: the email subject uses words to make you curious, believe the email is important, or specific to you, so that you will read it. [..] If there are attachments then they probably contain viruses. Delete the email and do not open the attachments.

Ok - "temp3" certainly looks like a fake address to me and the "URGENT LEGAL LETTER" screaming all-caps-subject-line is an obvious trap. 

The first text line of the email is asking for a response. If one responds to spammers, they have confirmed that the email address they spamed is valid and continue to spam it. This mail even says so: "to ensure correspondence is automatically saved to our Electronic Document Management System". Ha - I will certainly NOT respond to this one.

Then the message: "see the attached urgent legal letter".  Wow - they nearly got me there, didn't they. Indeed there is a 380 kilobyte attachment. A typed text page contains some 2,000 letters or 2 kilobytes. Either that attachment is a 160 page legal brief or something else. A virus, a worm, some illegal kiddie-porn picture? I will never know. As CERN recommends:

Viruses are often hidden inside attachments, so do not open attachments in unsolicited email.

Okay - I swear I'll NOT open that attachment.

There is a signature: My "faithfully schillings" and another one: "[email protected]".

Schillings? Why not Dollars or Pounds? I mean schillings sounds cheap, really cheap, like twelve pence or so. How can a few schillings protect reputations and brands?

Another part of that mail. Maybe you can make some sense out of this.


See the address? "Soho" in the UK - isn't that some London sex district? And just behind that an embedded weblink. Wonder where that one would lead to - some backroom of a red light bar in Soho?

CERN again:

  • click on a web site: if you click you could be downloading a virus. This can also be a technique to validate your email address and increase your chances of receiving more unwanted emails. Be cautious of selecting web links included in SPAM mail.

Okay - I didn't go to that site and you shouldn't either.

Does the next line reveal something about the sender? "Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority"

If I correctly remember my English lessons a solicitor is someone that 'seeks trade or contributions'. So what is the "Solicitors Regulation Authority", a 'United Spammers Association'? Thanks, I have no intend to contribute.

Now follow some lines of pseudo legaleeze gibberish. None of that makes sense to me, but then I neither know much English nor about legal issues. But one bit I wonder about. It says 'something' "is prohibited and may be unlawful."

If something is unlawful, it is prohibited. Right? Now if something is NOT unlawful, how can that be prohibited? I mean the sender is pretening to send some legal stuff and doesn't know if something is prohibited or is unlawful or is not? "May be"?

Beats me, but then again - it's just spam and now it went down the eternal bit bucket. No use to clog my hard drive with such ...

Posted by b on September 24, 2007 at 18:48 UTC | Permalink


off topic

where is craig murray's side?

Posted by: | Sep 24 2007 18:49 utc | 1

The most hideous "virus" that hit me was a warning forwarded by a friend agbout the so-called "teddy bear virus", which urges you to act immediately by going into your program files and deleting a program marked with a "teddy bear".

The joke is (was) that the file in question is not a virus, it is just an application that allows you to read certain java files.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 24 2007 19:46 utc | 2

off topic answer

Arsenal Suitor's Lawyers Are Shutting Down Blogs Left and Right

Posted by: | Sep 24 2007 20:07 utc | 3

Wow. More here too:

"If you should be browsing your visitor stats for your blog and you find any IP addresses in the range to, those visitors are from Schillings, Mr Usmanov’s lawyers."

Posted by: moonshadow | Sep 24 2007 20:37 utc | 4

re #4

b, does this information shed a bit of light on the spam e-mail you highlighted in your post? frightening light? or am i nuts?

Posted by: | Sep 24 2007 20:42 utc | 5

unfortunately after reading the piece linked to in #3 I don't think I am nuts... watch out b.

Posted by: | Sep 24 2007 20:44 utc | 6

Considering how full the OT thread is getting:
The arrogance displayed by people wanting to close down discussion on an issue becomes outrageous, along the lines of a BushCo or CheneyCorp press conference fart when microscopically dicked 'lawyers' in their silk gaiters and repressed dreams of whippings, try and close foreign based web sites.

The country I live in has nearly as outmoded and equally unenforceable libel laws as the country which Spambot client Alisher Usmanov is trying to steal. For a while here last year mobs of lawyers were running around in ever decreasing circles sending out ever increasing bills as they threatened 'offshore' based blog sites.

Then their clients, who are normally used to being the fucker rather than the fuckee, realised the position had been changed. All those threats and talk of writs had guaranteed maximum exposure for the sites they didn't want people to see.
It stopped. This will happen in england too but I suspect Mr Murray has one or more tricks to play before he moves his blog offshore.

He is keen to push Alisher Usmanov into suing him so that the whole matter can be heard. Of course that is the last thing Alisher Usmanov wants hence the quasi-legal bullying.

As far as the Arsenal sale goes that is over - Alisher Usmanov has screwed the pooch and he will have to find another english asset to steal, but the most disppointing thing about the whole affair for the poms must be the cowardice of their own media.

All that gutter press eager to be sued by has-been amerikan actors and faded royalty has largely avoided mentioning this let alone taking the sort of stand on this 'foreigner' that they would if Alisher Usmanov were an unemployed russian electrician threatening some some english rent collector.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 24 2007 20:47 utc | 7

ha ha, very droll. you had me going for a moment there...

Posted by: aubanel | Sep 24 2007 20:50 utc | 8

re #5
No, you aren't nuts.

Posted by: moonshadow | Sep 24 2007 20:54 utc | 9

B, please read this thread -- that message wasn't spam! You might be at risk for being shut down.

Posted by: NOT SPAM!!?? | Sep 24 2007 20:58 utc | 10

The message was spam. It was unsolicited and selling something B didn't wish to buy. As longs as the MoA website isn't hosted in the UK it is difficult to imagine much will occur since web servers based in countries free of english style libel laws get these letters daily and unless there is paedophilia or suchlike involved they ignore them.

That won't last of course. Eventually a way to prevent anything other than the officially mandated word from being published on the interweb will be found. However it is doubtful that Usimov's bullying will be the WTC collapse type event that would be required to change the patriot act.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 24 2007 21:10 utc | 11


That was the point of the post. Good to see you're on the ball.

Watch your back, b.

Posted by: Monolycus | Sep 24 2007 21:10 utc | 12

Seems someone else has B's droll sense of humor. Love the ad! :) There are more related posts if you scroll down. I doubt there is much danger for B. Nearly 200 blogs are carrying the story now. Like DiD pointed out, the more Schillings tries to shut down blogs the more bad publicity it generates for their client.

Posted by: moonshadow | Sep 24 2007 21:15 utc | 13

God to see some transatlantic solidarity.

Posted by: | Sep 24 2007 21:31 utc | 14

I guess I am not that much on the ball, as the point of this post entirely escaped me... in fact I thought it was out of character... got it now. DUH.

Posted by: | Sep 24 2007 21:32 utc | 15

Anyone wishing to contact the illustrious legal firm Schillings to tell them what they think about spam mail can always post it to:

[email protected]

Posted by: | Sep 24 2007 21:38 utc | 16

Can't help but wonder if it was a deliberate piece of sabotage by some underling tech at the webhosting company 'Fasthosts' when the decison to take down all the blogs and not just Murray's one.

Without such a big takedown there wouldn't have been nearly such a splash. Saying this I'm sure that the technical types will have a range of entirely plausible and totally impenetrable justifications for taking down Tory politician and London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson's site.

Props to that man/woman.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 24 2007 21:51 utc | 17

If I correctly remember my English lessons a solicitor is someone that 'seeks trade or contributions'. So what is the "Solicitors Regulation Authority", a 'United Spammers Association'? Thanks, I have no intend to contribute.

I might be being entirely stupid, but it didn't look to me that you understood that 'solicitor' is a type of British lawyer. The DX number on the last image is their internal postal address. Soho Square is a reasonable address for a firm of lawyers. Whether or not it is a spam, I have no idea.

Posted by: Alex | Sep 24 2007 22:11 utc | 18

Aww, shit!

I went to the Schillings website and went along with a few of their suggestions.

I think I've increased my mortgage by three inches . . .

Posted by: Antifa | Sep 24 2007 22:23 utc | 19

Can't seem to get to Lenin's Tomb now either.

The proprietor reprinted a Murray post on Assmanov the other day.

Posted by: ran | Sep 24 2007 22:27 utc | 20

Craig Murray on Atlantic free press:Alisher Usmanov is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker

[Editor's Note: Craig Murray, former United Kingdom Ambassador to Uzbekistan, author of the book, Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror, and contributor to Atlantic Free Press has recently had his personal blogging site - as well as a number of sites not owned by him and on the same server, taken down by his U.K. hosting company due to pressure from Schillings, a high-powered London Law firm, on behalf of Uzbeki Alisher Usmanov - the latest Russian billionaire to move to the United Kingdom. Usmanov's lawyers have gone after the host of Murray's site rather than Craig Murray himself. It seems they would prefer not to have Murray on the stand in a courtroom.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Sep 24 2007 23:29 utc | 21

Somewhat related, The Pirate Bay has reported a series of attempted crimes "infrastructural sabotage, denial of service attacks, hacking and spamming". After Mediadefenders email spilled all over the net, Pirate Bay has been able to identify the criminal masterminds that footed the bill for these for these attacks, namely big music and movie companies.

Naturally this will eventually be dropped as the police has other priorities. Goose, gander, all of that.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Sep 24 2007 23:40 utc | 22

The Tomb's back up now. False alarm.

Posted by: ran | Sep 24 2007 23:48 utc | 23

Good spoof, B - assuming it's just a spoof. I can testify that the "signature" bit about "this is a privileged e-mail, you can't disclose it if you're not the person who was meant to read it, it may be illegal" is standard practice by lawyers firms; I see these several times a week most of the time.
It also never fails to make me laugh at the sheer stupidity and arrogance of it. I mean, if you're so stupid you send an essential and top-secret mail to the wrong person, you deserve to have it released in the open. Besides, I doubt there are that many countries that would make that a crime.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Sep 25 2007 0:39 utc | 24

Just to clarify on your question about 'unlawful'.

Unlawful is 'against the law', contrary to the laws in force at the time of any claimed offence.

This is entirely different to 'illegal' the definition of which is 'a rather poorly large bird of prey'.

Posted by: beau bo d'or | Sep 25 2007 1:46 utc | 25

'illegal' the definition of which is 'a rather poorly large bird of prey'.

i thought illegals were the second cousins of beagles.

Posted by: annie | Sep 25 2007 1:50 utc | 26

related of course to hawks, not to be confused w/chickenhawks which are not unlawful but should be.

Posted by: annie | Sep 25 2007 1:53 utc | 27

I have no idea what anybody's talking about here.

Posted by: anna missed | Sep 25 2007 2:04 utc | 28

that makes two of us anna missed, but I intently

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 25 2007 2:12 utc | 29

three of us

Posted by: annie | Sep 25 2007 4:39 utc | 30

we are talking about spam - aint't we?

though some seem to think this is about craig murray arsenal which must be wrong ...

Posted by: b | Sep 25 2007 5:17 utc | 31

"Unlawful" activity can also refer to decriminalized activities - those which are prohibited by laws which are simply not enforced, like cannabis possession in the Netherlands (which is still illegal, just not prosecuted within certain limits) or prostitution (ditto).

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 25 2007 10:09 utc | 32

From Chicken Yoghurt:

If you should be browsing your visitor stats for your blog and you find any IP addresses in the range to, those visitors are from Schillings, Mr Usmanov’s lawyers.

And 5-0 to the Arsenal, demolition of Derby.

Fuck off, Usmanov.

Posted by: Dismal Science | Sep 25 2007 13:40 utc | 33

Derby is a great team. Uzbek enthusiasts, fuck off. (By the way, Uzbekistan is a great country, I spent 8 hours in the border point trying to get a train to Ashgebat in Turkmenistan)

Posted by: Alex | Sep 25 2007 22:28 utc | 34

Hill-Wood: We do not want Usmanov here
Arsenal chairman opposed to involvement of Uzbek

Controversy over Usmanov's record has surfaced since he paid Arsenal's former vice-chairman David Dein £75m for a 14.5% stake last month, then rapidly increased his shareholding to 21%. In 1980 he was convicted of offences reported to include fraud, corruption and theft of state property and served six years in prison, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union he insisted the charges had been politically motivated and that he had since been formally pardoned by the Russian government. That version of events has been contested by Craig Murray, the British ambassador in Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004.

Murray spoke out then about alleged corruption and state-sponsored brutality and he remains a trenchant critic of the former Soviet republic. After the purchase of Dein's stake he drew attention to Usmanov's convictions on his blog and published further allegations, which Usmanov's lawyers, Schillings, said were defamatory and insisted be taken down by the internet server Fasthosts. Murray's whole blog has now been removed.

Laura Tyler, of Schillings, said they did not intend to sue Murray directly because they did not want to give him a platform to express his views. Murray says he stands by the allegations, although he has no documentary evidence. "I was the ambassador in Uzbekistan. Usmanov is the country's most prominent businessman and it was my job to know about him."

Usmanov's representatives say they have documentary evidence relating to the convictions and the official pardon. They maintain that Usmanov, after the collapse of the USSR, built up his fortune, principally in mining and metallurgy, entirely legitimately. But, given the political and business conditions in those chaotic years in Uzbekistan and Russia, his career can never be as transparent as those who have made their money in Britain or the US.

Posted by: b | Sep 26 2007 8:40 utc | 35

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