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Spam The Almighty Buck

FTC Recommends Bounty on Spammers 371

joke-boy writes "AP reports that as part of the CANSPAM legislation, the FTC has issued a report recommending placing taxpayer-funded 6-figure bounties on spammers, much like the bounties placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted."
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FTC Recommends Bounty on Spammers

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  • Innocent Spammers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cat9117600 ( 627358 ) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:27PM (#10273540) Homepage
    What about the people who are unknowingly sending spam from their cracked computers? Is this basically saying that there is a 6-digit bounty for the grandmother who doesn't know enough to keep her computer secure?
  • Yeah but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hypermike ( 680396 ) <hypermike AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:27PM (#10273541)
    Six-figure incentives are the only way to persuade people to disclose the identity of co-workers, friends and others they know are responsible for flooding online mailboxes with unsolicited pitches for prescription drugs, weight loss plans and other products, according to an agency report Thursday.

    I dont think spammers run around telling coworkers and relatives they send spam. These people keep to themselves.

    How does that quote go? The only way for 3 people to keep a secret is if 2 of them are dead.

    It works for crime because most criminals like to brag, no incentive to brag here.
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:28PM (#10273555) Homepage
    Why make the taxpayers pay for cleaning up the internet of spam?

    Make the spammers pay out the bounty. There's absolutely no reason to make taxpayers (you know, citizens) suffer and go further in debt (via the nation) for the crimes to humanity that spammers have perpetrated.
  • Re:Innocent Spammers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alatesystems ( 51331 ) <chris AT chrisbenard DOT net> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:34PM (#10273596) Homepage Journal
    Of course. She is a terrorist then. Any "compassionate conservative" could tell you that, especially John Ashcroft. You might ask him how the USA PATRIOT act has saved the world too.

    For the dense, all of the above was my cynicism exposing itself.

    I don't support a bounty unless you can find the person who actually originated it, not the grandmother with the infected computer. This is impossible because of the nature of the internet(routed through zombie after zombie).

    I think it's a really bad idea and opens the door for Ashcroft or whoever is to enforce this to say "you sent spam" and you to have no recourse.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:42PM (#10273646) Homepage Journal
    Presumably the spammers' assets will be seized. Maybe some of that money can go back into the system to pay the bounties, et cetera.
  • by The Master Control P ( 655590 ) <ejkeever@neDEBIA ... com minus distro> on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:48PM (#10273686)
    I have, in the past, made a handful of comments w.r.t. the spam problem. After thinking about it for a bit, I've come to realize that the solution is not so much in applying new technology but applying new people.

    Think about it: Right now, almost everything that lands in the spammer's inbox is signal because right now, no one in their right mind responds to offers for the hottest young teens on the net and herbal viagra. Thus, it's trivial for them to send out a hundred million e-mails and it's also easy to sort through the maybe one thousand people dumb enough to respond: It's almost ALL signal.

    But, suppose that of those hundred million people, ten million clicked the link and a million responded. The S/N ratio goes from 10:1 to 1:1000 or 1:10000. It's no longer going to be economical for the spammer to sort through so much static. It should be possible to respond to, perhaps, 1/10 or 1/20 of the spam you get. It won't take much... Just something like "I'm very intrigued by your offer. Please tell me more." You can't use a computer script to generate responses, because they can easily be filtered out just like you filter 99% of spam. You'll maybe spend 30 minutes a day to respond to 60 spams.

    Before long, the bastards will spend so goddamn much time sorting through the static that they won't be able to send more! The only problem is, what do we do to reedcuate the millions of idiots (ie the ones who create the problem in the FIRST PLACE!!!) who are (mostly) trained to pound the delete key?
  • Big picture (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:54PM (#10273722) Journal
    You know, sometimes it's good to take a step back from our collective geekdom and look at the bigger picture. I'm thinking of this from my Mom's perspective, a woman who once didn't know what the O and I on opposide ends of a power switch meant: is this a sign of the times or what?

    We just comapred spammers to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted. Spammers are, on some level, comparable to druglords and serial killers. Isn't that true, though? Especially druglords. I can so picture a spammer sitting back with his small army of a spammed-up crew protecting him.
  • by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Thursday September 16, 2004 @10:56PM (#10273729)
    I wonder if it wouldn't be better (certainly more efficient) if large ISP's gave bounties for identifying spammers on their lines. At least it would cut out a little good ol' government waste.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:24AM (#10274186) Homepage
    It's not that hard to find spammers. Except for the clueless guy the FTC had in charge of the project. The one who, after a year, realized they should try to follow the money. Isn't that covered in Introduction to Law Enforcement 101?

    There's a whole spammer infrastructure, a constellation of crooked companies that make profitable spamming possible. They're not hard to find. [] Most of them are committing felonies. So why aren't we hearing about arrests once a week or so, instead of once a year? Most of the players are actually in the US or Canada, even though they may seem to be offshore.

    Just as an exercise, I looked at the last spam I received. It was a porno spam, linking to a web site in China. But on the payment page, the form submission was to a server in Canada, connected to Bellnexxia. That's fairly common. Often, spammers don't want to process the payments through the anonymous crooked ISP that serves the data.

    What's really needed is to apply pressure to the banking system to shut down the "high risk third party billing" operations upon which spammers rely for credit card processing. A few money laundering cases would clear up that issue.

  • by dananderson ( 1880 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:26AM (#10274198) Homepage
    It's interesting the report was requested by Congress. California has a spammer, Bill Jones [], running for Senate (Republican, BTW). So we can have a spammer deciding the laws for spammers. Sort of like the fox guarding the chicken house.

    California had a state law that was to go into effect where citizens can collect fines from spammers (at least in state). Unfortunately the so-called "CAN Spam Act," nullified the state law. So the CAN Spam Act actually encouraged, not discouraged SPAM. The members of Congress are no doubt technically ignorant and easily presuaded by lobbyists (especially the Direct Marketing Association) that I don't see much hope from the old geezers (no disrespect :-).

  • technical solutions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Council ( 514577 ) <> on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:26AM (#10274201) Homepage
    (I'm new here so I don't know if this has been posted on every spam thread)

    It seems to me that the only decent technical solution to this is something like Hash Cash [], which has the end result of restricting the amount of mail a computer can send per unit of time . . . at least, it would be a good addition to any existing measures. How practical is this? Would it scale properly? Etc.
  • Re:Six Figures? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Saeger ( 456549 ) < minus author> on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:55AM (#10274302) Homepage
    What we really need to do is figgure out how to make it so that spam isn't profitable. Ever.

    What if almost nothing was worth *buying* from someone else because you could "replicate" it yourself locally? The end of (most) material scarcity is just one of the economic implications of molecular manufacturing []; it will remove a lot of the incentive behind being an asshole trying to get ahead by any means necessary. Which reminds me of a quote:

    For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. -- John Maynard Keynes []


  • by TykeClone ( 668449 ) <> on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:59AM (#10274314) Homepage Journal
    This is deluded. A $100,000 judgement against a spammer is all well and good, but if that person doesn't possess $100,000, you're up shit's creek. Are you aware of the absolute nightmare it is to actually collect on a court judgement, even for small amounts? Just because the judge says it doesn't make it so.

    That's because we don't extract the judgement from them in the form of unpleasant work. We've got a big country and we could find some nice ironic punishment for spammers - something that would require them to be unconnected and outside - maybe washing rocks on a beach in Alaska.

  • Definition of Irony (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nwbvt ( 768631 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:08AM (#10274338)
    Should such legislation be enacted, the FTC (or whoever collects such tips) will have their inboxes flooded with bogus reports of spammers from people just wanting to make a few easy bucks.

    BTW, editors, why don't you guys RTFA once in a while. The FTC is not recommending anything. All they did was figure out what type of reward would be needed should such a system be implemented. From the article itself:

    The FTC, in a report requested by Congress, did not take a position on whether such a system was a good idea.
    Way to completely miss the point of the article.
  • Re:Innocent Spammers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dasunt ( 249686 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:33AM (#10274399)

    What a great idea! How wonderful! How utterly sensible! We all know nobody has a right to operate a computer unless they first verify all code running on it to be secure. It's not the vendor's fault. Just like people who die in airline crashes deserve it because they did not verify the plane would land safely.

    I'm not expected to know 100% about my car. But if I avoid doing safety basic precautions (replacing tires when they are bald) and get into trouble (sliding into another car on a rainy night) then a good lawyer is going to rightfully pin part of the blame on me.

    Legal precedents could apply in other ways, such as creating an attractive nuisence.

  • by LinuxWhore ( 90833 ) * on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:39AM (#10274420) Homepage Journal
    How about a reduced bounty on the ISPs that knowingly host spammers?
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @07:26AM (#10275240)
    If government really wanted spammers gone, they would presumably arrest them, charge them, and punish them.

    From what I understand, the FCC and various other agencies know who they all are. With all the Carnivores and Echelons and such in place, it seems to me fairly impossible to hide your activities, Spammer or not.

    So I am left to conclude that the people in charge want spammers in place. Why?

    That's obvious. --And talk about bounties and Americans getting used to the idea of turning in Americans for fun and profit under the guise of 'legitimate' vengeance should make it all the more obvious. That and further warming people to the idea that the 'internet is a dangerous place' which needs to be controlled.

    And from what I've seen on Slashdot, it appears that the tactic is working rather effectively on more than half the posters.


  • Get rich fast (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @08:51AM (#10275558) Homepage
    The report said any reward should come from taxpayer funds because collection of civil penalties from spammers will not be enough to finance the system

    Right there the FCC has certified this as a good way to make money via fraud. All fraudsters have to do is find someone willing to be the fall guy - i.e. "become" a spammer - in return for a percentage of the reward when they're "turned in". With the above paragraph, the FCC has made the business case for this by saying that the reward will outweigh the penalty.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost