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How Do You Feel About Spam?
Does it make you feel all warm and glowy inside when you're in the middle of, say, reading something challenging, and you see your e-mail icon bouncing, and you think it might be something important, something about you and your concerns?

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And then, do you still feel that warm, glowy feeling when you discover that, yet again, you've put aside what's important to you, interrupted your day, broken your flow, because some time thief has decided to barrage you with spam?

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..day after day, hour upon hour, in two of your e-mail accounts? (The five e-mails in the top part of this blog item are from only one of my e-mail addresses, and only from one day -- August 29 -- even though the 9:53pm one is dated August 30.)

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...despite your calling and e-mailing and asking to be taken off the scumbag's lists?

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The spammer's name is Robert Sexton, and he isn't hiding out somewhere in Romania sending me e-mails offering me a bigger penis. No, the genius is e-harassing me and countless others from right down the pike in So Cal.

Sexton's e-mails brag about his work for, among others, this woman:

This is the placement we do for Kathryn Bishop, a Realtor in Los Angeles,

After having zero luck being taken off Sexton's list, I realized that people mentioned in his e-mail probably support what he does, or they wouldn't allow themselves to be mentioned, right?

Maybe I'd have some luck getting off Sexton's list if I enlisted Kathryn Bishop, the above-named real estate lady in the Valley. I called and e-mailed her, but the e-mails from Sexton kept coming and coming.

I finally got her on the phone, and suggested that she Google Robert Sexton and she'd see that a few people on the Internet are a wee bit pissed at being spammed by him. She said "I'll deal with it when I get back to town." (I hope by telling Sexton to take my e-mail address off his list.)

FYI, you can report spam just by forwarding it (with the headers exposed) to SPAM@UCE.GOV, which I did:

SextonIPaddress.jpg

I also filed a complaint with the So-Cal Better Business Bureau here.

UPDATE: This guy is something else. I just got an e-mail from him, not long after getting Ms. Bishop on the phone.

SUBJECT: Formal Notice (Cease and Desist) for Amy Alkon - This is NOT SPAM, Amy ..

In a message dated 8/29/07 10:52:53 PM, bob@starposition.com writes:

Ms. Alkon

It's come to my attention you've been contacting my business references and saying derogatory things about my company. I'm also aware of your rather shrieking, manic comments you've left on my voicemail, and the two or three times you've called my company.

Let me lay it on the line for you, clearly. That's called 'tortuous interference with a business' which can carry civil penalties under the California Civil Code. If for some reason you continue to have any contact with either this company, or any of my business references, I will refer this to legal counsel, who will subpoena AOL, and then serve you with notice to appear in Court.

If for some reason you do not wish to be contacted by my company either by phone, email, fax, or carrier pigeon, it's actually very simple. All you have to do, minus the shrieking, is to say 'Don't contact me' and that's how it works. One of my Testimonials was nice enough to forward me your email address, so that's why I am contacting you. Now, what appears to be frosting you a bit is you do not wish to be contacted via email. That's not a problem, it's called using the 'reply' button, and simply specifying which email address or addresses you don't want to have contacted further. That's done within an hour or so during the weekdays. That's actually quicker than Federal law requires.

So, now that I've basically laid things out for you, all you have to do is a> specify which other email addresses you don't wish contacted, and b> not contact my references further. And please do so without the shrieking. It's a bit unbecoming.


Best Regards,

Robert Sexton
Director of Business Development, Star Position US and Star Position UK
Phone: 800.481.2979, ext. 2001
Direct: 949.215.0022

Star Position US Website: WWW.STARPOSITION.COM
Star Position UK Website: WWW.STARPOSITION.CO.UK

Proud member of the Better Business Bureau
Keywords: Search Engine Positioning, Search Engine Placement

Here's my reply:

Yeah, I saw you sent somebody else one of these threatening legal letters (Google "Robert Sexton" and spam and numerous pages about people complaining about being spammed by you come up -- including one with you threatening the person with legal action). I'm not scared. I said nothing defamatory about you - nothing but the truth - which is that you're spamming people right and left, including me, and I wanted to be taken off your lists, but got no action by asking you to be removed.

And lo and behold, it seems I did just the right thing by calling Ms. Bishop, who (apparently) endorses you in the e-mails you've been repeatedly harassing me with.

Until I did, you didn't respond to a single e-mail I sent (for example, one I just pulled up from this address on August 9, 2007, 7:04 pm, asking to be taken off your list).

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(To show how effective that was, here's yet another piece of life-interference from Sexton; this one, from the 24th. Hmmm, what happened to that supposed "hour or so during the weekdays" for removal?)

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I need my time for my work, not for constant interruption by you. How creepy of you that you think it's okay to barrage total strangers with unasked for, unwanted e-mail. How many e-mail a day do you send, and where do you get the lists of names?

Cease and desist? Funny, that's what I've been asking from you. Oh yeah -- I've saved the e-mails asking to be removed that you didn't respond to, in case you're wondering. Maybe, in the future, you'll be responsive when people ask to be removed.

P.S. You're breaking the CAN-SPAM law by not providing a return address or an opt-out. Each violation is subject to an $11,000 fine.

Finally, I find your business practices repellent. I pay for AOL and value my time, and you have taken it time and time and time again. What right do you have to do that?

Here are the addresses to remove so I can have my life back.

NOTE -- Bishop wrote me this e-mail:

Amy, I do appreciate that you've let me know that Robert Sexton is doing this with my name. My question to you is -- why do you blame me and talk about me as a Realtor you'd never use, when in fact, I didn't know he was doing this?

Sincerely,

Kathryn Bishop

But it seems I'm not the first to contact her. A guy on grassrootsnetworking writes:

Yesterday I had received about 20 copies of the email below on my computer from Robert Sexton.

He is a BIG time spammer for sure. I have received hundreds of these e mails through the course of the year. My guess is that he might be taking advantage of people as well.

Please read the email below. If you have received these e mails as well and you would like to help find out if he provides a legitimate search engine marketing service, please call him, ask him what he does, what his charges are and for a list of referrals and we can compare notes.

Today I called Kathryn Bishop, Certified E-Pro Realtor and she told me he charges her about $1,100.00 a year for one term.

I did the search for "LOS ANGELES REAL ESTATE" on Google and did not find her.
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=LOS+ANGELES+REAL+ESTATE

Hey check out this search Robert Sexton can't even get his clients site to come up if they search their own name.
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Kathryn+Bishop%2C+Certified+E-Pro+Realtor+&btnG=Search

There is something strange going on around here?

UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 3, 2007: There's more from the guy. Simply not to be believed. Here.

Posted by aalkon at August 30, 2007 11:01 AM

Comments

P.S. You're breaking the CAN-SPAM law by not providing a return address or an opt-out. Each violation is subject to an $11,000 fine.

Wow...what an entitled prick! If anyone needs to be reported for violating CAN-SPAM, it's him. With that attitude, he's not just asking for it...he's screaming for it!

Posted by: Doobie at August 30, 2007 1:36 AM

I particularly loved how he chastised me for shrieking at him.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 1:57 AM

Shriek away, girl!

Posted by: Gretchen at August 30, 2007 5:33 AM

Not to come off as an ass but why not just add this person who I personally feel is a jack ass to your AOL spam/block list. I think that would have saved a lot more time then calling Kathryn Bishop. Now if sticking it to this person who I personally feel is an ass hat was fun (and the intent of the dialog) then I applaud both the effort and the effect.

I think you should set up a side company on getting spammers to go away.

Posted by: vlad at August 30, 2007 6:10 AM

As long as my vocal chords are vibrating!

It's funny -- I'm reminded of the desired effect when somebody says, "You're really a bitch," and how flat it falls when I answer, "And?"

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 6:12 AM

This is how I do my part to stop spam.

The guy is this brazen because nobody else calls him and gives him a bad day. Or because nobody or few people are reporting him to the FTC (spam@uce.gov).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 6:28 AM

Maybe he's just never heard a woman shriek before?
[slutty laugh...]

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at August 30, 2007 9:21 AM

Well, you know how some men have these really sexy phone voices? From the sound of this guy, the only woman he has shrieking for him are those he won't stop spamming.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 9:43 AM

I would probably have done as Vlad, but I am thrilled that Amy called up Bishop. That was the right action to take, and it's apparent from the later google searches that Bishop is most likely a fraud and shill and working in cohort with Sexton on some fraudulent search optimization spam scam.

The two lawyers that started all of this are detailed here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canter_&_Siegel it's related to "The Tragedy of the Commons"....

Posted by: jerry at August 30, 2007 9:47 AM

Or when he won't pay them after...

Posted by: vlad at August 30, 2007 9:47 AM

It's just puzzling to me, if Bishop is as in the dark about this as she claims to be, why I found this on his site:

"I've found Star Position to be very helpful in getting me unique placement in one of the most competitive real estate markets out there - the greater Los Angeles, California area. I'm pleased with their results, and I have just placed my fourth keyword order with them over the last few years. I highly recommend them."

Kathryn Bishop
E-Pro Realtor
Keller Williams Realty
12711 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, California 91604
TELEPHONE: 818.432.1503
www.kathrynbishop.com

Are these not her words recommending the guy? Seems...unlikely!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 10:03 AM

You looked up Ms Bishop in "L.A. Real Estate" but couldn't find her. Go to the California Dept. of Real Estate & you can find her.

Posted by: Brian at August 30, 2007 2:14 PM

Amy, did you ever know that you're my hero?

Posted by: marion at August 30, 2007 3:57 PM

Aww, thanks! Coming from you, especially, that means a lot!

And Brian, I think the point is, she's supposed to come up on top in an Internet search thanks to this guy's company.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 4:09 PM

Amy, get a life....I think you bring this sort of the thing upon yourself. I guess what comes around goes around.

Posted by: Sam at August 30, 2007 5:42 PM

I wonder if his phone number is real and if it can be tracked to an address, if not that, perhaps his email can be tracked by someone who is tech-savy.

As a spammer, he should be worried that someone might seriously find him and kick the shit out of him. How many of us have had that fantasy?

Posted by: rick at August 30, 2007 6:30 PM

Amy, get a life....I think you bring this sort of the thing upon yourself. I guess what comes around goes around.

I bring this sort of thing on myself? How, by having an e-mail account?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 30, 2007 6:52 PM

Amy, kick their asses.

PS BBB is ineffective, they simply log the complaint. In TN the Department of Consumer Affairs has teeth. They take care of business.

Posted by: Roger at August 31, 2007 5:09 AM

Thanks, Roger. I'll see if we have one of those, too.

Mr. Sexton fucked with the wrong girl.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 31, 2007 8:25 AM

Did you ever report him? What was the outcome?

Posted by: amy at March 16, 2008 9:11 AM

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