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You Spammed The Wrong Girl


As an advice columnist and blogger, I get e-mail for a living, and I'm deluged. I answer almost every advice request I get (or, when I'm really snowed, as many as humanly possible). Every moment I spend dealing with spam is a moment I'm not spending answering my mail. And those moments add up. In other words, spammers are time and resource thieves, and nobody gets to steal from me and get away with it if I can help it.

Well, it came as a surprise yesterday when a spammer, apparently in the MLM business, not only thought he could mass-hijack others' time and e-mail boxes to increase his sales, but also gave clear contact information for his spam-ees to reach him. And reach him I did.

Since he had no problem bothering perfect strangers, surely, he has no problem with perfect strangers calling to let him know how they feel about spam. Perhaps you'll want to give him a little jingle at the numbers below (both are mainland USA numbers), or take a moment to e-mail him. You might also want to pass on this link to your friends who have, say, an opinion or two about spam.

Here's his e-mail I got Sunday morning:

Greetings :

My name is Michael Eisbrener and I am sorry for the unusual approach but I acquired your email address as a person who is actively involved or is looking for an online business opportunity. I did not get your personal permission to email you.

I would be grateful if you would allow me to send you details of an opportunity that I am involved in. I did not want to send you any details until I had mailed you to seek your permission first, as experience has taught me that not all leads that I acquire are genuine Opportunity Seekers. If this is the case for you then please ignore this email as you have already been excluded from future mailing from me.

If however, it is ok to send you details of my opportunity then please visit (URL REMOVED!) and leave your information. You will see the details of my program.

I work at home full time and what I show is what is working for me. Unfortunately it doesn't work for everyone, at least not so far. It does save everyone more than they spend. Many people become only a customer.

So why not give it a try?...the information is FREE anyway!...
Just give me a chance to show you a program that will make you money in the next week and months ahead.

It's easy to get started. Click my e-mail address link for one e-mail.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you very much for your time.

My highest regards,

Michael J. Eisbrener (Google search)
651-393-2838 (voicemail) or 305-421-3165 (the guy came on the line here)

You are TIRED of all opportunity e-mails? Click the remove link below and I will put you into two LARGE Global remove lists and my own personal one.

Just click REMOVE ME

Yeah, right. So, I should have to work to remove his marketing turds from the lawn of my life? Nuh-uh...especially since that's a way spammers and junk faxers know they have a "live one" at a particular address.

First, I called the 605 number. Voicemail. The 305 number gets him on the phone.

I let him know I'm, well, unhappy about receiving his spam.

"Are you in marketing?" he asks.

I tell him it's none of his business what I do. I make the point that it's unethical for him to take my time to advertise his business, to have me pay for his marketing costs. He laughs that I'm wasting my time even further and tells me "No, you're unethical."

Why am I unethical, I ask him?

"Because you claim other people are unethical."

(Well, if it isn't Staggering Genius, Inc.) I tell him that's not an explanation. I press for an explanation that actually explains something. He keeps on keeping on on why *I* am actually the unethical one.

He gives the childhood rationale that whenever you point a finger, three fingers point back at you.

And yes, he sounded like an adult male, not an 8-year-old boy.

I repeat my contention that it's wrong for him to offload his marketing costs on others, taking my time and using my e-mail address.

He again laughs that I'm wasting my time. Well, yes, in trying to reason with him. I tell him I am, at the moment, just trying to be ethical and get his side of the story. The guy says, "You have a definition of unethical that's obtuse to the world."

I doubt that. I think most people just let themselves be bullied, spammed, and otherwise taken advatage of a little more than I'm willing to let myself be. That said, I don't pick my ethical standards by popular vote.

The guy claims he only gets e-mail addresses from people who've asked for information on his site. I give him my e-mail address and tell him to send me the IP it was left from. He says he'll get back to me very soon.

The thing is, I've been list-served spammed before, and when somebody does this maliciously, they don't do it on one obscure site, and they send stuff from the nastiest sites possible -- KKK, Lyndon Larouche, and steak and lobster sites (who would think I'm some vegan, I have no idea, but there you have it). I got no slew of e-mails, only this one. You be the judge. I mean, if you don't think your notion of what's ethical is too "obtuse," like mine.

Of course, a suggestion that he's lying about where he got my e-mail address is in the first paragraph of his e-mail:

I did not get your personal permission to email you.

Again, you be the judge. If you talk to the guy or leave a message, post a comment here. And please encourage others to link to this blog item. Only by demanding accountability will anybody be accountable.

The guy e-mails me back:

In a message dated 8/13/06 10:13:19 AM, writes:

Amy, I apologize. I just looked up your email address on the list I purchased from who I thought was a reputable list broker.
I do open the contents and look at the first page or so of email files to insure the data I require is there. Your list, a substantial list, is full of emails that are not substantiated with date and ip address. ONLY THE First 300 are actually usable. The entire rest of the list is just email addresses and had I taken a better look I would have deleted the entire list. Fortunately for me I sent to only a small portion. Thank you for helping me uncover a potentially serious problem.
I have deleted the list, added your email to my remove file and to two global remove lists I work with.
My highest regards,
Michael J Eisbrener
I e-mail him back:
It would have been nice if you'd come clean on the phone instead of suggesting I'd left a comment on your site asking you to contact me. P.S. Lying is unethical.

I've been list-serve spammed before, and it's always from hate sites, never people trying to sell their services. What list service is selling my name? I want that information so I can track people who serve spammers. Please send the name and contact information.

Why do you think it's ethical at all to spam people? Your logic that my definition of unethical is "obtuse" isn't logical at all. What person wants to use their time opening their e-mail to make your marketing costs cheaper?

I'm glad I could help you figure out that this wrong, but doesn't this fall under "do unto others"? Why didn't you figure out that "cheaper and easier" doesn't translate into ethical without my help? I await your reply.

PS Are you now going to stop spamming to lists you buy as a marketing choice entirely? I'd be very interested to know.

I await your reply. -Amy Alkon

I'm still awaiting. And awaiting. Something tells me he's realized he can't just throw around illogic combined with words like "obtuse" and get away with it, at least, not with me. Since he got back pretty fast after my telephone call, and not to this e-mail, I suspect one of two things: 1. It's Sunday and he's out for the day, or 2. He doesn't have a valid answer to my question in the PS:

Are you now going to stop spamming to lists you buy as a marketing choice entirely?

Yoohoo, Mr. Eisbrener?

I'm not surprised you're not responding, but I at least deserve to know who sold you my e-mail so I can have it removed from their list...and invoice them, to boot, for using my attention as sales bait.

And let me encourage everybody: The only way people are going to stop abusing our privacy, our peace and quiet, our safety, and the rest is if we speak up when they do it. Tell them we refuse to be abused.

Hey, spammers: there's a reason I pay for an Internet connection and maintain an e-mail address and it isn't so I can play a really fun game trying to pick my personal e-mail out from the pyramid schemes, Nigerian 419s, etc.

Okay, this is just one guy and one little e-mail. But, maybe if he's chastened, and he tells two spam-happy marketing friends, and so on, and so on...

P.S. Interestingly, the guy's IP address resolves to Medellin, Columbia.


And then there was a letter to the editor from a Michael J. Eisbrener in Medillin, Columbia, in some Christian journal.
letter to ed.jpg

Yet his phone number has a Miami area code. His voicemail area code is from St. Paul, Minnesota. I find this a bit odd. Perhaps his phone bounces to Colombia. If so, I hope it costs him when people from the USA call. Just a wee lesson for our pal, who's probably a bit surprised one of his marks had such an easy time reversing the charges on spam.

You know how it goes, Mr. E -- "whenever you point a piece of"...junk e-mail, three pieces of junk e-mail (or junk phone calls) point back at you."

Or something like that.

Posted by aalkon at August 14, 2006 11:42 AM

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Comments is assigned by LACNIC , the Latin American & Caribbean Internet Address Registry.

LACNIC records say that this is one of 17 assigned to:

Empresas Publicas De Medellin

Carrera 77 39b-16

940 - Medellin

phone: +57 4 4152280

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at August 14, 2006 6:53 AM

It's easy to have a phone number with any area code you want - any VOIP service (Vonage. etc.) offers that feature for cheap.

Posted by: anonymous at August 14, 2006 9:40 AM

Interesting. I hate that you had to spend any time dealing with such an idiot. I hope he does receive a bunch of prank calls to his listed number. Karma is a bitch afterall.

Posted by: claudia at August 14, 2006 5:48 PM

I saw a shy girl I know today who said she was tempted to call him. I hope people do.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 14, 2006 5:55 PM

Thank you for all the advertising. Every 'little' bit helps.

Posted by: Michael Eisbrener at September 8, 2006 10:06 AM

This guy called ME today claiming that I was a spammer! Since I have caller-id, i googled his number and found this site. Thank-you for the information about him - However, he now knows my number is a 'live' number!

Posted by: Julie at February 11, 2008 12:55 PM


Thank you for keeping this up for me! Our interaction helped end the period when I bought leads and added them to multiple autoresponders. It was difficult two years ago and now it would be almost impossible to work from home with those ‘services’. The real spammers don't leave legit info or any way for them to be contacted. ISP's have so screwed up email that the only people who get through the filters today are the spammers. Anyone purchasing lead lists, even so called good ones, is a spammer.

Everyone I send an email now has had to leave their information at one of my sites requesting more information. I don't even call people. They call me. Yes I live in South America. Yes I have multiple phone numbers in the US and Europe that ring at my desk and all of it costs less than $50 a month for unlimited world wide calling. The planet has gotten a lot smaller and the ability to earn a living has improved for anyone who wants to make it happen on their terms.

Keep up the good work.
Michael Eisbrener
My numbers have not changed.

Posted by: Michael Eisbrener at April 28, 2008 12:32 PM

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