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Gmail Spam
6 spam messages right after signing up

 6:22 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

My own gmail account gets virtually no spam, but I signed up for my parents yesterday and have already received 6 spam messages - how do those guys do it?

The address isn't wildly difficult (theSURNAMEs at gmail.com) but even so, it surprised me.

Do they just go through all the possibilities?



 6:27 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Spam for "Discount Software"?

I've been getting them lately as well. They must have a way of going through the servers or just trying all possiblities.

I don't know, but it's interesting.


 6:28 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not only do they shoot through a load of possibilities, GMail also helps them by delivering emails sent to none existent mailboxs to their "best guess" at the correct recipient.

On the plus side so far every single one has ended up in the spam folder like all good spam should :)

- Tony


 6:34 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

GMail also helps them by delivering emails sent to none existent mailboxs to their "best guess" at the correct recipient.

I suspected this. That's dangerous!


 7:06 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

It took aroud 5 weeks for me to receive my first piece of spam. Now I get around 2 - 3 a day all in teh spam box. Very pleased.


 7:08 pm on Dec 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

GMail also helps them by delivering emails sent to none existent mailboxs to their "best guess" at the correct recipient

If you're thinking of this thread [webmasterworld.com], then I had understood that to mean only that gmail ignored periods and spaces, not guesses at names.

<edit>Toned down -- jeez what side of the bed did I wake up on today? </edit>


 2:18 am on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

[snip ... just easier for me to test this than make wild guesses]

Hmm ... time for a small experiment methinks.

- Tony


 5:19 pm on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've been doing my own experimentation. My gmail account name is 15 characters long (with a period in there, which we already know doesn't matter.) I've tried 'forgetting' one of the letters and I've tried switching one of the characters for a nearby letter in the alphabet and a nearby letter on the keyboard.

These I suppose would be the three scenarios which an email provider would plan for if they considered adding some kind of 'recipient guessing' feature. I did a very unscientific three trials per scenario.

Gmail didn't deliver any of those messages to my inbox. So, right now, I'm thinking the guessing recipient idea is just the "ignores periods" standard.


 5:24 pm on Dec 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

GMail also helps them by delivering emails sent to none existent mailboxs to their "best guess" at the correct recipient.

Not true at all.

It just ignores the period (.) and anything after a plus (+)

webmaster.world@gmail.com -> webmasterworld@gmail.com
web.masterworld@gmail.com -> webmasterworld@gmail.com
webmasterworld+rocks@gmail.com -> webmasteworld@gmail.com


 1:02 am on Dec 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

webmasterworld+rocks@gmail.com -> webmasteworld@gmail.com

Ooh why does that one go to webmasteworld instead of webmasterworld? :P

Tropical Island

 11:30 am on Dec 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not true at all.

It just ignores the period (.) and anything after a plus (+)

Sorry, but I have to disagree. I am getting SPAM addressed to a name similar to ours but not ours. When I checked the source info it does not show our actual address anywhere.

As an illustration just take my member name here which is Tropical Island (this is NOT my e-amil address). We use a name like Tropical.Island at Gmail. Mail is arriving addressed to something like Tropicalasla at Gmail.

As someone said before this is disturbing. While I think it's admirable that Google is trying to send incorrectly addressed mail to the correct box this is obviously mail that was not intended for us originally and it's just a matter of time before someone gets a piece of mail that they shouldn't be allowed to see.

This is a policy that Google should look at. I like the idea of ignoring the period however the rest should just be returned to sender.


 8:23 pm on Dec 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Tropical Island, I can't duplicate your experience with my account. I've tried to send poorly addressed messages to myself and they don't go through.

Are you suggesting that using english words (like "Island") as opposed to proper names (like "Joe") will trigger a misspelling filter? Or that this functions with any type of account name?

Does this occur only when there are periods used to demarcate those words (even though we know G ignores periods)? Or that G is intelligently breaking apart "tropicalisland" into the two separate words "tropical" and "island?"

Tropical Island

 11:55 pm on Dec 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

The address is separated by a period and is the English language name of our Island.

The reason I was able to pick it out was that it was addressed, like some SPAM messages are, to the name on the address. Like "Tropicalasaila - special widgets offer".

Looked odd so I checked out the header and source and it was addressed to something like Tropicalasaila at Gmail.com.

It has now been deleted however as we receive hundreds of SPAM messages every day I will keep the next one in case anyone at Gmail wants to see it.

P.S. Just checked our Spanish version of the same name and out of 40 SPAM there was one addressed to a name similar but not that close to the correct one. I did not delete it.

This is definately an existing reality. It may or may not be just for place names but the mail I'm getting is not even close to the normal mispellings of this name.

P.P.S. Let's not forget that this is a Beta version of Gmail and they are trying to be innovative. The conservatism will come when the first harmful error occurs and they will correct it.

They may have a system that can tell that there is no other address close to that particular spelling and assume it goes to it. Let's give them time to try new things and get the kinks out.


 2:43 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Tropicalasaila at Gmail.com

ahh, i see what you saying. Spammers usually rhyme it and send to all address variations in BCC or CC. Like,
TropicalIsland <-- Woohoo!

Tropical Island

 4:14 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

We have now checked three different accounts and it's happenning to all of them.

The mail is all from one source - a software vendor who does just that - spews out a variation of spellings.

Too bad it's all SPAM - would love to receive something different.


 11:20 pm on Dec 20, 2004 (gmt 0)



 1:50 am on Dec 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry but I'm unable to replicate this. Care to make a new account and post a screenshot?

Tropical Island

 11:11 am on Dec 24, 2004 (gmt 0)


With all due respect I can assure you we have three accounts where this is happening.

I do not feel that it is necessary to create a seperate account just to prove it to you.

If you send me your e-mail address I will forward the next one to you from our account attached to the e-mail address in the website in my profile.

Tropical Island

 12:20 am on Dec 28, 2004 (gmt 0)


Check your e-mail for a copy of the misdirected SPAM that you requested.


 1:14 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I checked- and he's right. Very weird. I asked Gmail but no response yet.


 1:26 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I could be brute force spam.

I could also be an e-mail address that is harvested had its original domain replaced with many of the common free e-mail domains including gmail.com


 2:12 am on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

No no- it is addressed to a different email than the recipient.

Tropical Island

 1:26 pm on Jan 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

No no- it is addressed to a different email than the recipient.

And it's not from any e-mail address we've ever had. There are also different variations of the same theme.

It's a shame that Google doesn't do the SPAM filter first and then the redirect to the closest address. If they did that then 99% of the issue would disappear.


 2:52 pm on Jan 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've always figured that spam where my addy doesn't appear anywhere simply had my addy bcc'd. Is it possible that's the case here? Is there any way of finding out?

Tropical Island

 2:06 am on Jan 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have checked the source code and there is no direct address that is mine.

My 10 year old has also been receiving mail from the same company. His account has never been published and the mail he gets again is variations of the real address - never the exact address.

This is definately something in the Gmail system. As I stated earlier if they would just filter out the SPAM before sending it on to the closest address the problem would be eliminated.

OR just don't do it unless it is the exact address with or without the dot in the name.

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