Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Simon Deals With A Spammer

Nothing much exciting happened today so I am going to regale you with a story from a few years back.

Due to being in exactly the wrong place at exactly the wrong time I found myself temporarily running a small ISP. ISP is maybe a bit of an exaggeration, I think the total client list was around 100 dialup accounts and amaaybe 40 DSL users.

The owner of this venture unfortunately had to spend some time at an all expenses paid vacation in a federal facility. I never have been able to figure out exactly what he did to 'win' this great prize, but I suspect it was some form of embezelment.

The deal was for me to run this operation for the 6 months of his incarceration and he would give me a 25% interest in his operation. Well I am pretty damn good at math and it took no time at all to figure out that 25% of fuck all, is $0. But being the nice guy that I am, I took the mission. What a mistake!

One night at about midnight I started to get 'tech support' calls from customers complaining that their e-mail was down. I discovered to my chargrin that I could not access the mail server remotely and so had to get dressed and drive down to out 'datacentre' (the data center was a large closet that we rented in an office building!).

I found the problem, the server had crashed. I then found out the reason why. Earlier that day I had signed up a new client, and the bastard was a spammer, he had crashed my server by trying to send out over 5 million emails!

I disabled his account, got the server running and went home to bed.

The next morning the moron called me and said he was having trouble signing on! hahahaha

I explained that his activity had caused me a great deal of trouble and as far as I was concerned his chances of getting his account back were as likely as Osama bin Laden winning the Nobel peace prize.

Now the one thing that I do admire in this class of person is their sheer dogged persistence, he apologized for the problems and asked if he could buy me lunch. I am always in favor of free beers, and arranged to meet him at my local watering hole. I wasn't sure how, but I was determined to obtain retrebution for my wrecked nights sleep.

Over beers he was fairly candid about his operation, it was to do with real estate refinancing, and he had bought an email list containing 125 million email addresses. His plan was to email everyone, and based on the sheer numbers game he would get 0.1% interested. And more importantly he would get rich. Then go out and buy another list and repeat as needed!

The problem was that every time he tried to get his business rolling people like me stopped him, he wanted to know what he could do.

Oh this was the opening I was looking for! I explained that what he needed to do was cut the 'middle man' out, become his own ISP and then he could do whatever he wanted. All he really needed for this was a 'beefy' computer, some big hard drives, and a high speed internet connection.

He asked me if I could arrange this equipment, and the deal was sealed. Of course I asked for money up front and literally ran to his bank to cash the cheque for $1600 for the computer.

$300 later at the computer store I had the makings of a really shitty little computer.

5 days later he called and said that the Pac Bell guys had installed his DSL and he was ready to go.

I threw the junk computer in the car and headed over. In less than 15 minutes he was online. And this was the point I left. My guess was that he was going to hit the switch on those 125 million email addresses and Pac Bell was gonna get very grumpy.

It was less than 20 minutes later that my cell phone went off. Boy he was mad as hell. They had canned his account, he was out of business, he had paid Pac Bell $200 for the installation, etc etc.

The big one was, he wanted the money back for the computer, I explained that all sales are final!

I just love it when I get the chance to screw with these people. The guy cost me a nights sleep and I ended up charging him the equivalent of $200 an hour for lost snooze time! hahahaha

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