This is outside the usual topics of this blog, but I wanted to share my experience as a “public service”. If I have missed something, please let me know.
I am not an internet expert, nor have I figured out how or why I receive as many spam emails as I do. However, I do know that simply clicking on a particular “unsubscribe” link can have the opposite effect. It verifies to a spammer that there is a real person there. So recently when I received an unsolicited “Free 30-day membership” from DirectBuy, I did some checking and this is what I found:
The email came from a company called Twilight Media Group in Humble, Texas. An online search for Twilight Media Group reveals nothing. No website or even a reference to their existence. All of the unsubscribe links go to various addresses at zblocked.info. which is a domain recently registered by Twilight Media Group. The address listed is an industrial area adjacent to Houston Intercontinental Airport. A search of the address reveals dozens of companies of varying repute that use that address with unique box #s. So likely it is one of those “rent a storefront” places for people who need a temp address other than their house. The phone number listed on the web registration belongs to a Browning Ferris recycling center in Abilene, TX. So if I want to find out where they got my name, I can send a letter to this “box #” and pray or call a recycling center several hundred miles away. Doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. So let’s dig a little deeper.
The admin contact is email@example.com. If we look at abouge.info we learn that it is owned by Agile Promotions of Beaverton, Oregon (though they spell it Beverton in the registration). The name Agile Promotions not only makes me nervous, but like Twilight Media Group, does not show up in a search as a legitimate company. Abouge was registered a month before zblocked. So let’s keep clicking.
The admin contact for abouge is Robert Sanders or firstname.lastname@example.org. The address is also an industrial park, this time in Beaverton with multiple box numbers and according to a Google search, a host of questionable activities. Abara is also owned by Agile Productions and was registered on the same day.
So, unless DirectBuy did not authorize these people to solicit, they appear to have contracted with people who are making zero effort to operate like a legitimate firm planning on being around awhile. This seems odd for a national firm like DirectBuy. However…
If you research the PO Box the email lists for DirectBuy, one discovers that Twilight Media Group is not the only entity that sends out DirectBuy emails with potential spam links (See article here) The company that this poster reports was created about the same time as the others and also has a box # address.
If that’s not all bad enough, when you Google DirectBuy there are paid listings for sites such as Userbuzz.com and Consumerreview.org that are made to appear like consumer driven sites but one “review” after another raves about how great DirectBuy is. Registration searches for both of these sites list unlisted owners and one an unpublished number in San Diego. There are no other companies reviewed on these sites.
If DirectBuy is such a great thing, why do they have to resort to such measures to sell memberships? If they are not responsible, and are an honest company, where is the evidence that they are doing anything to stop it?