- September 27, 2016
- Posted by: Kerry Tomlinson, Archer News
- Categories: Archer News, Cyber Crime, Posts with image, Privacy
How to keep those spammers out of your inbox & get a good chuckle along the way.
You may like the idea of tricking a spammer, wasting their time with useless responses, like they wasted yours. But you just don’t have time to do it right.
Enter the anti-spambot!
Brian Weinreich invented his own response generator to keep spammers busy until they get disgusted and digitally stomp off.
“I was getting crushed with spam and it was becoming cumbersome to get through my e-mail,” Weinreich, co-founder of San Francisco-based Density, told Archer News. “I thought to myself, ‘I need a way to stop this madness.’”
Stopping the madness
Weinreich created Sp@m Looper to entice spammers into conversation.
When he receives a spam e-mail, he sends it to the Sp@m Looper, which fires off a canned e-mail response that sounds somewhat real.
When the spammers answer, the bot responds again and again, catching the spammers in an endless loop of quasi-realistic conversation.
“Do you have a link to where I can read a bit more about this?” the Looper may ask.
Or, perhaps, “Alright! This looks really cool. Do you possibly have a LinkedIn or Facebook? Before doing any kind of business going forward, it’d be great to see I’m talking to a real person. Sorry! Just being cautious!”
And even more entertaining, “Ha… too funny. I was just thinking about doing this not too long ago. I hope you haven’t been reading my emails 😉 In any case, what more from me do you need? Anything? Excited!”
“How do you stop spam?” Weinreich asks in his post about Sp@m Looper. “You waste the spammers’ time.”
Sp@m Looper creator Brian Weinreich at his computer. Image from Brian Weinreich.
The result? Spammers often carry out an e-mail exchange with Sp@m Looper, looking for a way to drain money from what they think is a live target:
Sarah: My husband dead two years ago and the family members wants to kill me and my children and seat on the inheritance he left for us with bank here l am now in a hiding with my kids and the documents of inheritance is with us…
Bot: Very nice! Where abouts are you located?
Sarah: Dear Mr Jonathan, i am presently in Cote D Ivoire with my little children . I will be very glad if you can offer me the assistanc i reques
Bot: Hmmm… I like what you’re saying, but can you provide me with just a little more information? Looking for specifics.
Sarah: The money he deposited is 8.8 million dollars with UBA bank of Africa . i would also like to have your direct phone number and my is to present you to the bank as the beneficiary to this money so you can help me to claim it back because the bank will get to confiscate the fund.
Bot: Super! Do you offer a one-month free trial by any chance? I’m a bit tight on funds, but this is something I’d like to dip my toes in!
You can see the full exchange here.
“It’s simply great entertainment value with a noble cause,” said Weinreich.
Weinreich added a “hipster mode” to add random “hipster” words to some Sp@m Looper responses.
Weinreich receives requests for money, offers to build a website or develop an app, promises to boost search rankings, and more.
“I’d say a majority of the emails came from sites that looked shady,” he said.
“Anyone who promises to make you the ‘Number 1 search engine result for 10 dollars’ likely is employing some devious tactics that will hurt your business in the long term,” he added.
Those same spammers who want to trick you out of money grow frustrated when their conversations with the bot—using the name John or Jeff Turing—go in circles.
“Tons of angry responses,” Weinreich said. “People either assumed John Turing was a complete moron or realized they were speaking with a bot and were pissed they had wasted their time.”
“The irony kills me,” he added.
Another irony—Alan Turing, who died in 1954, is often called the father of computer science and cryptography. John Turing was his brother.
Can you use Sp@m Looper?
Weinreich would like all of us to join in spammer time-wasting. However, “Mr. Turing” is currently taking a break.
“Right now, it’s ‘offline,’” he said. “I haven’t had time to wrap up the feature set needed to onboard other users since I’ve been busy at Density. However, I open sourced the code on GitHub if anyone wants to take it and fork it.”
“I might get to it at some time in the future, or maybe it’ll inspire someone to build something even better,” he said.
For now, you may have to waste spammers’ time manually, or be content to read some of the many anti-spambot conversations here.
And if someone sends you this:
“Ha… too funny. I was just thinking about doing this not too long ago. I hope you haven’t been reading my emails 😉 In any case, what more from me do you need? Anything? Excited!“
…you may actually be talking to the Sp@m Looper!
Robot image from Brian Weinreich, with modifications.