How do solicitors extract email addresses

Rick Bergeron - CPF

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Aug 18, 1999
Canistota, SD USA
Lost Cajun Chateaux
How do all these junk email, spam or whatever your choice of words, solicitors export or extract email addresses from websites such as the Grumble? Do they pay a minimum figure to someone who goes profile by profile to copy the email addresses? Is there a software package that does this for them?

Just curious to see if anyone knows how they do it. At last count, I had several hundred email addresses that I use to track such occurances. A few months ago, one of the trade publications actually loaned their email database to a non-profit organization who in-turn rented or sold the list. An example would be if Sears asked for an email address, it would be

It is my understanding that there are businesses that do nothing but collect email addresses for distribution to marketing firms (which may have some sensible offerings) and spammers (which are like fruit flies of the internet to me).

Some of the spam offers actually are soliciting people to do this type of work(?) from their homes. "Make Big Bucks at Home working only a few Hours per Week!" These people are similar to envelope stuffers, I guess. They sit in front of a computer all day collecting data with spider programs and such and get a few cents per address.

I have tried to change email addresses, change ISP servers, and I have even sat at MY computer for hours going through the routine of "Unsubscribe Me". I don't know of any way to evade the spammers once you are targeted and your email address is picked up by somebody. There is an online organization called Spam Cops that will stop unsolicited email if the mailer persists in bugging you after you request to be unsuvscribed. I was getting a load of spam from a company whose address was "" and I turned them into the Spam Cops. They DID get the spam stopped on that one occasion but it would take more time than what it is worth to list ALL the spammers that you are receiving junk from and rat them out to the SP's.

I usually use the Block Sender on unwanted email and let it go. At least I don't have to SEE their spam in my Inbox every day.

Rick, this doesn't directly address your question - I don't know how that works - but it's related.

The conventional wisdom used to be that you should never use the "unsubscribe" link in a spam message to "opt out" because doing so would only serve to confirm that your email address is active.

A recent article I read in one of the computer magazines suggested that in some cases it may, indeed, be useful to click on "unsubscribe," (and 2-3 glasses of red wine each day might be good for your heart.)

The kinds of spam that you should unsubscribe to are the ones that are directed to you personally (and not to,,, etc.) These emails usually are professioanaly produced with full HTML code and spiffy graphics. And they have a link to "unsubscribe."

They all warn you that it may take a few days to remove you from the list. I have been doing this religiously for 3-4 weeks now, and I think it's helping. It's mostly just the raunchiest stuff that gets through now. :eek:

Several of the unsubscribe links invited me to register for a free "farewell gift" by typing in my email address. I would not recommend doing this for obvious reasons. :rolleyes:
The spam doesn't cause too much trouble. The delete key and trash can work well. All email that gets forwarded to me by someone who doesn't change the subject line gets trapped and deleted before I even see it. I do find it interesting to see which organizations actually sells and rents their email databases to others.

I never unsubscribe to unsolicited email. Since I stopped unsubscribing to the junk faxes, they have actually decreased.

Unsolicited email generated within the United States gets a reply from me with a copy of the Idaho Statute regarding unsolicited electronic communications pasted into the second line of the text. I seldom receive a second message from those folks. A friend of mine actually received a check ($100) from a solicitor asking him to forgive their mistake and not to report them to the Washington Attorney General.

I just received solicitation material from a French site today, addressed to my email address found only on the FramerSelect website and just started wondering how those folks actually get the addresses.
Unscrupulous individuals use programs to "scan the web" for valid email addresses which contain an at sign and period. In many cases they'll get them from discussion boards, or even the source code of the web page (such as the destination address from a feedback form).

I maintain several web pages for some of my clients (the "other" job) and have recently become the victim of this. I get about 10-30 viri per day, all because of the feedback form addresses. I had to re-do our forms so the actual email address is no longer there and is referenced only by an ALIAS. The alias is passed to the CGI/perl (program that runs on the server), which knows and hides the real address. Whoever is doing this seems to be doing it on a LARGE scale.

Messages tend to have a virus or trojan attached, with subjects such as "A special funny game", "to class", "Worm klez.e immunity", "w32.klez.e removal ools", "hyperlink", "onmouseout", "Spice girls vocal concert", "a good tool", "A winXP patch", "a funny website", "your password", "to revise the hip", "Let's be friends", "privacy statement", "win.opener", "a ie 6.0 patch", etc (THESE ARE ONES I RECEIVED TODAY ALONE - and it's only 7am!)

The only way to avoid this is not to post your email address publicly, or use a junk address when you do.

Some will harvest names and SELL them to these folks. Often freebie sites, contest sites, etc will do this.

Our isp lets us have an unlimited amount of addresses pointing to the domain(to our master email box), and we use a different one every time we give out the address; so we'll know who is selling it/giving it out. The address I gave for this site was TG@.....(mydomain). For PPFA I used ppfa@..... etc.. For Framer Select I use framers@... If one of these gets abused, I simply go to the isp administration program and I can block any of those aliases; so future emails go to ye ole bit bucket.

It's a very bad habit to open file attachments, unless you are specifically expecting something from someone you know. Even if its from someone you know, it could be an infected file. Most of the new infections cause your email program to send out the lil bugger to anyone in your contact list/phone book, disguised as something legitimate.

A virus scanner (such as Norton Antivirus) is no longer a luxury; but a necessity.

Just some ideas/opinion and hopefully an explanation of how they got your name...

WHY do they do it? GOOD QUESTION! :eek: :eek: :eek:

Coincidence? Ask a question one day and get an unsolicited email regarding products for direct email, including the applications for extracting email addresses and also applications for verifying email addresses so that you don't waste electronic postage sending to invalid addresses.

It's really getting deep when the direct emailers know who asks questions and then targets them with products that answer the questions.

I also received a reply from the guy who got my address from the FramerSelect website. His comment regarding the methods used.....

"I do not make any secret of how I obtained your email and am proud to produce an email which is tasteful, considered, and appropriate to the receiver. You see as an art dealer I know the importance of good frame to enhance the customer's appreciation."
There was a short period - maybe 5 days - when I received about 7-8 emails containing viruses. One of the emails had as the topic line, "The Grumble." These particular emails, which were all very similar, had no recognizable attachments but were each very large emails. They all got past Hotmail, which supposedly checks for viruses, but were picked up by Nortons. The key, I think, is to use a good virus checker and keep the definitions up-to-date. The newest versions of Nortons can update definitions as needed each time you go on line.

I've received some targeted mail after I rejoined the PPFA and my address was published, but it hasn't been heavy or intrusive.