What do we do with your spam?
We do not shut illegal websites down, we do not report spammers to their hosts, we do not send requests to ISPs to close the accounts of spammers, we do not waste our time with reluctant e-mail service providers to terminate the e-mail accounts of 419 scammers. Now what exactly do we do? What is the purpose of the Cyber Top Cops Spam Reporting Service?
Shutting down websites, closing down e-mail accounts and reporting spammers to abuse departments are only treatments for the symptoms of spam. Spammers and scammers simply open new accounts under new aliases each time you close down one of their accounts. It is a complete waste of valuable resources and that is why we decided to stop giving the spammers the attention they want. Governments are reluctant to put proper legislation in place and they are reluctant to take legal action against cyber criminals. Anti-spam authorities are only left with the mechanics of policy and terms of agreement violations to take action against spammers. This only addresses the problem of spamming websites or e-mail accounts and not the spammers behind them.
Our whole philosophy against cyber crime is education for the purpose of prevention. We investigate each and every spam e-mail reported to us, putting a lot of time, effort and research into finding new methods of preventing spam. The research we do enables us to identify spamming and scamming techniques in order to prevent spam from happening in the first place. In other words, our aim is to address the root of the problem and not the symptoms. We publish our findings in the hoaxes, spams and scams section of our website, as well as our anti-spam page. We teach people how to identify spam e-mails and how to treat them, in other words, not to react to the spam message, in order to make spam distribution an ineffective marketing tool for the unethical spamming marketer. The less reaction spammers receive from their spam e-mails, the less money they will make. People may argue that spammers will only send larger volumes of spam to reach their targeted earnings, but if we can get rid of all the bot networks by securing our computers with proper security software, we will eventually force spammers to use their own bandwidth and energy to send out spam. This will make spamming highly ineffective and will turn it into an industry without reward for their operators. It will give new meaning to the phrase, "Cyber crime does not pay!"
What about 419 scammers, it is obviously more important to close their e-mail accounts before they claim another victim, right? Wrong! They simply open a new account an claim even more victims, because the new account goes below the radar until someone reports it, a spam trap picks it up or when the e-mail address gets published on a public website and that specific page gets indexed by the search engines. Closing down the e-mail account of a 419 scammer may also interrupt the investigation of a scambaiter or cyber cop and gives the scammer a chance to get away. We analyse the methods of scammers, study their techniques, we watch their every move. We can learn much more from the scammers by keeping their e-mail accounts active. Scambaiters are much more successful at wasting the time of scammers if the account remains open. Once the account gets terminated, the scammer can continue sending out scam spam using a new e-mail account, without being bothered by scambaiters, until the new e-mail address is revealed through one of the methods mentioned earlier in this paragraph. We teach people how to identify scam e-mails by publishing the characteristics and examples of different types of scam e-mails on our website. This is much more effective than closing the e-mail accounts of scammers, which is in any way a futile operation. If people can identify a hoax or a scam successfully by using the knowledge gained from our research, it does not matter where it came from or who sent it.
And what about phishing scams. We investigate and research different types of phishing techniques and publish examples of new types on our website. We tell people what to look for in phishing e-mails and what to do if they receive one. We reveal the techniques of phishing scammers, helping people to identify a phishing scam before it claims them as a victim. It is therefore important to report phishing scams to us, so that we can do the necessary research and publish new types of phishing scams as well as the details of new phishing techniques on our website. You can also do your part by reporting phishing scams through the "Report Web Forgery" feature of Firefox. By doing this, you do not only contribute to the solution of the problem, but your also enjoy the benefits of being protected against websites similar to the ones you reported through this feature. Therefore you get back what you put in.
What if I lost money? Who can I turn to for help? Visit our Report Cyber Crime page for a list of organisations that specialise in the field of helping cyber fraud victims. It is sad to say that funds lost through 419 and phishing scams are rarely recovered because of jurisdictional limits, the lack of proper legislation and the absence of punishment for cyber criminals. If you fell victim to a scam, contact your local police department immediately and in the case of a phishing scam contact your bank as well. Please remember to forward a copy of the phishing or scam e-mail to email@example.com for analysis and research. Help us to reveal the methods and techniques of scammers to the whole Internet community.
Do we discourage people to report spammers and spamming websites to abuse departments? No, not at all. If you want to learn how to report spammers and perpetrating websites to their hosts and service providers, sign up for a SpamCop account and read our tips and tricks on effective spam reporting. SpamCop is already doing a great job at taking action against the spammers, so there is no sense in doing the same thing at Cyber Top Cops, another reason why we decided to use spam for research and educational purposes, instead of taking action against spammers. It is much better to report spam to several organisations, where the spam is utilised by each organisation in a different way, than reporting it to several organisations doing exactly the same thing with your spam. This is why we encourage people to add firstname.lastname@example.org to the Cc (Carbon copy) field of the e-mail when reporting spam to organisations like SpamCop, the FTC, etc. It is our mission to educate and empower people with the proper tools and knowledge to battle cyber crime more effectively. We dedicate our resources towards reaching this goal and that is why we do not have the time or spare resources to report scammers and scammers to the abuse departments.
In rare cases we make an exception to this rule, but to stay focussed on our main goal, we do not make exceptions very often. We are also willing to share our research and knowledge with law enforcement agencies that are willing to take legal action against cyber criminals and we will assist in cyber crime investigations only if there is a good chance that the guilty parties will receive proper punishment for their wrongdoings.