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A Few More Inches, Please ... Guaranteed?

By Gerry Patterson

Several months ago I wrote an essay on spam in which I stated that businesses do not make money from spam. I contend that only spammers make money from spam! Anyone who takes a long cold hard look at the figures should come to the conclusion that the old adage about "no such thing as bad publicity" might be true if you are in show business, but for a business trying to build a reliable reputation and establish a solid Internet presence, spamming just does not make sense. Nevertheless, as long as there are businesses foolish enough to waste money on them, spammers will continue to make a living. (Although many Internet users would not consider them as living)

However, it seems that there is at least one industry which clearly can and does benefit from spam - Internet Porn. In fact spam is an essential component of the supply chains of this "growing" industry ...

The Growth Economy.

Last year, I wrote an essay on spam, entitled Reducing Spam Rage. The essay generated considerable interest. So I wrote some follow-up items on the topic. As interest in the topic stayed high, I started to publish examples of spam in the "Spam Diaries" section of the PGTS feedback column. One example was an offer of "human growth hormone", supposedly to reverse the effects of aging. The medical advice in this offer contained URLs in the domain When I checked that domain, I also found offers of "penis enlargement", although it wasn't mentioned in the spam. I included the information in the report. Since it was published, I have noticed traffic to that spam report, referred by the major engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN etc). At first the punters were searching for "penis" and later just searching for "pillmedics".

Ok, I reasoned that other people had encountered spam that had been commissioned by PillMedics and they were checking my site. Using a newly created script to extract keyphrases, I could see that the hits have remained since February and continued at a more or less steady trickle to the present day. What on earth was happening? With my curiosity roused, I also googled for "pillmedics". I was surprised at what my search revealed. 81 separate sites in the first 100 hits from Google. The domains (and their ranking) are shown in the table below. There are some gaps because some of them occurred more than once. In many cases the domain names speak for themselves. The essay that I wrote came in at number 13.

	  1.              53.
	  3.             54.
	  4.            55.
	  6.             57.
	  7.             58.
	  8.          59.
	  9.               60.
	 10.              62.
	 11.                  63.
	 12.             65.
	*13.                 66.
	 14.                     67.
	 15.                68.
	 17.        69.
	 18.             70.
	 19.              71.
	 21.          72.
	 22.               73.
	 23.           74.
	 24.             75.
	 26.          76.
	 27.                 77.
	 29.          79.
	 30.          80.
	 31.                81.
	 32.                82.
	 34.           83.
	 35.        84.
	 36.                   85.
	 37.               86.
	 38.           88.
	 40.            90.
	 42.                   91.
	 43.            92.
	 45.              93.
	 46.            94.
	 47.              95.
	 49.         96.
	 50.                    97.
	 52.                99.

Of the 81 sites listed in the top 100 pages returned from Google, some were non-complimentary. For example the pages from my site (PGTS), ToastedSpam,, Xtdnet, SpamCop, Rhyolite, EasyWeb, Ringroad, Clan-server, SpamHaus, and accuse PillMedics of collusion with sites that either create or encourage spam. The website at the CornellCollege domain had a page that contained an obscure piece of modern prose which may have been poetry.

Although I have not personally seen evidence that proves that spam has come from the or domains, there is a considerable amount of evidence (including the example I posted) that displays pillmedics domains in the body text of spam. On the basis of this, it seems reasonable to conclude that PillMedics often encourage or commission spam from other hosts. Clan-server claim to have evidence of spam purporting to have originated from their domain. This appears to be a capture of the console reject log, which unfortunately does not contain the IP address. seems to think that is responsible for spam, and has pilloried him for scrutiny by SpamBots, to give him a taste of his own medicine. More about later.

A more serious allegation comes from, who mention PillMedics in connection with malicious code embedded in web pages. This code targets MSIE (Microsoft Internet Explorer).

Despite these detractors, it seemed that most of the sites in the above list were on good terms with PillMedics and were either linking to them or attributing content to them. It appears that PillMedics have shifted their main focus from HGH to another form of growth, namely "penis enlargement" pills. They have built up an impressive network of links with other sites to whom they provide material heavily publicising their principal product line.

"Penis Enlargement" seems to be an extraordinary success story on the Internet. One could say that it is a "growing" industry, and PillMedics make an interesting case study of a modus operandus - creating a global network of sites that link back to them.

This seems to be a genuinely new form of technology franchise for like-minded entrepreneurs, a practical demonstration of how an e-business can make money. It would be the envy of those "woodabeen if they coodabeen" dot-commers in the last century, whose sad remains littered the stock exchange floors around the world after the great twenty-first century burn-out.

PillMedics have a genuine self-sustaining virtual enterprise ... The large number of links boosts their page ranking with search engines ... which brings more customers ... which generates more links etc etc. So the theory would go.

The key to this success is the free promotional and advertising material that a business like PillMedics can supply to members of a motivated network. This consists of photographic images of good quality, organised into sets or series. Although each set follows a different theme, each one is consistent within a particular sequence. And the subject matter is usually similar, involving at least one attractive woman, partially or completely undressed, sometimes with closeups of tender parts, in poses that suggest or actually demonstrate some of the functions that a Pillmedics customer might hope to perform with his newly enlarged penis. Enough said.

So, this explains the hits to my site. It seems that many of the surfers who enter "pillmedics" into search engines might be looking for this material rather than examples of spam. And I should warn that the afore mentioned material is salacious and in some cases goes into explicit details and the portrayal of sexual acts. It will certainly offend some people. And I need hardly add that it should only be viewed by mature adults.

Ok, I probably just lost ninety percent of my younger readers, who are now eagerly typing the word "pillmedics" into Google in the hope of furthering their sex education ... which is unfortunate, because I wanted to warn any youngsters who might be reading this, about the dangers of visiting such sites with an old version of MSIE. Sites like these are exactly the type of sites that might exploit some of the well known security weaknesses in Microsoft software. So, to the minority of younger readers that heed my advice ... you will be pleased to learn that you may be missing out on a practical demonstration in computer security as well as some illustrations of "the facts of life" ... You might also consider changing your Browser!

I admit that I did not find evidence of malicious code when I checked the sites in the above list. However, that does not mean that these pages were guaranteed to be free of browser specific attacks. I was using a text only browser called "w3m", which is not only lean, mean and as close to "bullet-proof" as a browser can be, but also gives a "robot's eye" view of a URL. And since malicious HTML is highly specific, it may not actually be observed by a w3m user.

Generally the "Penis Enlargement sites" (PE), listed above are well constructed, and most robots would be happy with them. Which is probably why PillMedics have such a high pagerank. The HTML code on these pages was similar, suggesting that PillMedics may have provided example/sample pages for new network members. The photo galleries usually consisted of a series of jpeg files in a particular theme, linked to thumbnails in a table. Since the w3m browser will not "view" graphic files, I used a combination of perl and the shell to extract the jpegs and viewed them on a graphics workstation (Suse Linux). This method was fast and secure.

How Does It Work?

Next, I thought I would try to find out about how the scam worked. So I googled for "penis +enlargement +scam". A huge number of pages came back. Many of the same sites in the previous list. Almost all of them were earnest testimonials to various PE (penis enlargement) potions, stating with utmost sincerity that it "Was Not A Scam!". Many of them assured me that "It Really Works!" or they would state that "I Just Can't Believe The Results", etc, etc. Well, disbelief was my own reaction.

Some sites posted pages with pseudo-scientific discussions of male anatomy which inform the reader that the penis "Was Not A Muscle ... It Was Actually Engorged With Blood!" (Gosh! The things you learn on the Internet!)

So having been reminded about the hydraulic nature of sexual mechanics, I tried "penis +enlargement +spam +email", which really was my point of entry into this strange half-submerged world of PE. Once again the same sites came back from my query. Some of them stated that they "Did Not Send Spam!" or that they "Maintain Opt-Out Lists That Complied With All State Laws" or better still that "It Wasn't Us ... It Was Someone Else!" ... and so on.

One really enterprising site even commented about how getting some of this spam was a great conversational opener when talking to a girl! (Now I must admit that an opening line like that would never occur to me!) And of course there were many more frank and sincere testimonials that penis enlargement "Really Did Work!". Another site-owner said that he would be quite up-front, and would personally guarantee that he received hundreds of emails every day from "satisfied" customers ... and could users please remove the characters "no-spam" from his e-mail address before sending another glowing testimonial? He had just added the phrase so that his address would not be harvested by SpamBots (What? He doesn't enjoy getting spam? -- Obviously it did not occur to him that he could use it as conversation opener, next time he's in a singles bar)

An example of these testimonials - and I can't see how it wasn't written in-house:

Hi Pillmedics, I bought 3 months worth of your penis pills to give it a try, no way did I think a pill could enlarge your penis but it was worth a go. ... The results that i got were amazing, exactly how you said it would be, i had a 5 inch penis and now it is close too 8 inches!!. I recommended your product to all of my work mates and will continue to buy from you guys. This is the first time i have brought something online and i'm very very happy with it. THANKS and keep up the good work.

Ok, it seems that the PE sites have convincingly captured the market for these keywords. And the web is awash with testimonials from thousands of "satisfied" customers. Also it seems that the keywords Yohimbe, Cuscuta seed and VP-RX, are well and truly sewn up. In the face of such a sustained and energetic campaign, I feel pleased that my little contribution on the topic of spam has held onto position thirteen in this infamous list. I have no idea if there really is a drug called VP-RX ... it sounds more like a type of nerve gas that might be employed by SMIRSH (fictional nemesis of "James Bond") rather than a pharmaceutical preparation for the treatment of impotence. God knows what's in it?

These sites seem to continually change IP addresses and/or hostnames. By the time you read this many of those hosts will have disappeared ... almost as if the sites were continually being taken down!

And I wondered about any cases of a web-user being genuinely impotent and using the Internet to seek proper medical advice!

So just who are these scam-artists? And are they selling much product?

So Just Whois Pillmedics?

I first checked on PillMedics in February 2003, after one of their associates, a "physician" by the name of Dr. Don Johnson, kindly sent me some information about how I could safely and permanently reverse the ravages of time, and regain all the health and vitality of my dimly remembered youth. In February, PillMedics had a postal address, P.O. Box 6111, Perth 6064. The postcode 6064 could be one of the suburbs Alexander Heights, Girrawheen, Koondoolac or, Marangaroo. The domain was hosted by, who no longer host them. In fact no longer exist! It seems Mike has had some trouble with his ISP in the last six months!

Coincidently, now use the same PO Box number that were using back in February. And they are still located at postcode 6064, although this time they actually mention Girrawheen. Another coincidence is; the person who runs has the same first name as Mike Bowers. This other Mike whose surname is Van Essen seems to prefer the services of to host his domain name. More about him later ...

There have been quite a few Mikes in this organisation. According to an archived whois record on (see bibliography), another Mike who worked for PillMedics was based in Athens, Crete around about the time (January 2003) that Doctor Don Johnson was actually composing his offer (that he later sent to me), regarding the elixir of eternal youth.

At that time, Mike's surname was Bower (without the "s"). Despite the different spelling, he economically shared Mike Bowers' e-mail address ( Fair enough, that saves on administration costs and I guess that with a business address like "Athens, Crete", he must spend a fair amount of time in the Ionian Sea!

As of the time of writing (late July 2003), whois reveals the current information about PillMedics:

		P.O.Box 4561
		Perth, WA 6064

	   Registrar: DOTSTER
	   Domain Name: PILLMEDICS.NET
		Created on: 06-OCT-02
		Expires on: 06-OCT-03
		Last Updated on: 14-MAY-03

	   Administrative, Technical Contact:
		Bower, Mike
		P.O.Box 4561
		Perth, WA  6064

	   Domain servers in listed order:

The domain may be part of the scam. According to whois the details are:

	domain:         GWPTECH.COM
	owner-address:  Craig Freeman
	owner-address:  P.O.Box 4556
	owner-address:  6064
	owner-address:  Albany
	owner-address:  Western Australia
	owner-address:  Australia
	admin-c:        CF663-GANDI
	reg_created:    2003-02-14 11:08:21
	expires:        2004-02-14 11:08:21
	created:        2003-02-14 17:08:23
	changed:        2003-03-21 03:34:12

	person:         Craig Freeman
	nic-hdl:        CF663-GANDI
	address:        P.O.Box 4556
	address:        5678
	address:        Wogga Wogga
	address:        New South Wales
	address:        Australia
	phone:          +61 93456231

The address for Craig is false (as the name Craig most probably is). It seems that the registry entry is in the process of being removed. Nevertheless the mis-spelling of "Wagga" is intriguing, how can such geographic ignorance continue? Since Australia's national media is heavily biased towards the South Eastern States, people in the West might hear the word, without seeing it written.

So, whoever concocted the entry had little knowledge of "Wagga" (apart from the sound), and no idea of the postcodes on the Eastern Seaboard. On the other hand the scammer is more familiar with the postcodes for WA. This familiarity does not extend all the way south to Albany however. The postcode for Girrawheen on the other hand seems to lodge in his mind consistently ...

In fact as this is written, the entry for is being removed., for the time being, seems to be alive, hosted by, who have identical contact details to Quantum-tech are yet another business that has a PO box in Girrawheen! Both these domains are in the process of transformation. Mike is finally abandoning his preferred email address of, (possibly getting a little too much spam?) and the owner of, which is once again Mike Van Essen with the following contact details:

	Registrant Contact:
		Quantum Tech Pty Ltd
		Mike Van Essen   (
		FAX: none
		P.O.Box 6111
		Perth, NA 6064

It is a rather long bow ... but it is possible that Mike (since he likes the name so much - let's assume that is his name) does live in Girrawheen? Mike might live in the USA and is cleverly throwing us a red herring? But for the time being, let's suppose he really does live in WA, then we might wonder why Mike seems to focus so strongly on the US Market?

There is the occasional testimonial from Down Under, but the content of PillMedics sites seems to be better tailored for the US market ... What about us Antipodean males? Are we are so well endowed, we don't need any pills? Well, it is true that size does have something to do with it ...

Size Does Matter!

When the prick stands up the brains get buried in the ground
-- Philip Roth, "Portnoy's Complaint".

So how does the "Penis Enlargement Scam" work? On the face of it, only a dim-witted and very naive individual would believe that in the unlikely event that the pills actually worked, they would improve one's chances of success with the opposite sex.

Without over-estimating intelligence levels, it is probably safe to say that ninety-nine percent of the male population are smart enough to realise that expanding the size of one's vocabulary, wardrobe, biceps or wallet would do a far better job of enhancing sex-appeal than expanding the size of one's bedroom flute!

But in this particular market the foolish one percent is the real target audience. A genuine niche market! And in the USA sheer population size means it is a big, fat and very lucrative niche. Maybe 500,000 men? And due to their per-capita income it is likely that many might have more money than sense. As the PE sites keep saying; "Size is important!" Not the size of your wedding tackle ... but the size of your market!

In his well-known book "The Naked Ape", the biologist Desmond Morris observes that of all the animals in the world, and relative to body mass, humans have the largest penis. And, as the PE scammers seem so fond of reminding us, an erection is powered by blood. Genuine PE customers probably do believe that the penis is a muscle, and so in this regard, the PE sites do play a minimal educational role by informing them of the vascular facts of life.

Humans also have the largest brain (relative to body mass), and this organ consumes a considerable amount of energy and oxygen. It also requires a substantial flow of blood to carry out its' normal functions, greater than any other organ. The erect penis may come a close second.

An unfortunate consequence of this physiology is the inability of the human male to use both these organs simultaneously at maximum efficiency. Something which many women have observed and commented on over the last, oh, million years or so. The old Yiddish proverb quoted above by Philip Roth in his famous novel puts it more succinctly. It is something that the PE scammers use to their advantage.

The PillMedics franchise uses pornography as a promotional tool. Pornography which a few decades ago would have fetched a tidy little sum. The pornography industry has undergone considerable changes. Before the second world war it was largely a "cottage industry", the product delivered in plain brown wrappers, and hidden in bottom drawers. After the post-1960s sexual revolution, pornography became "respectable", to the extent that it almost ceased being pornography. As media and entertainment conglomerates grew to a size that surpassed even the mighty military-industrial complex, magazines like "Playboy" (run by Hugh Hefner) built global empires which came to resemble traditional mass media outlets. However in the last couple of decades there has been a massive reduction in costs, due mainly to technology change. Changing social attitudes also contributed, with Hollywood now producing what would once have been considered pornography.

Lately rising unemployment has added sauce to the e-porn pie, providing as it does a growing pool of amateurs, from many countries including the former eastern bloc, keen to try their luck in what is rapidly becoming a "cottage industry" again. Small businesses can make easy money. Digital image equipment is now efficient, portable and of course very cheap! The cost of pornography production has plummeted to such an extent that PE scammers can afford to give it away, for promotional purposes.

This is partly why spam is the ideal vehicle for the delivery of links to promotional material for products like PE. I suspect that, unlike the majority of emailers, the true PE customer feels genuinely pleased to at last get some e-mail, even if it is from PE scammer.

Whether or not their pills work, the pornographic photos on the scammers' site when studied carefully, should induce some online penis enlargement (unless the poor sod really is impotent). With his brain running at half speed one of the few remaining thoughts might be ... "Hey! I could get a piece of this ... if I send some money to to these guys!".

The more cautious customer might have doubts about the efficacy of the preparation, and the claimed improvements to "lifestyle". After a couple more hours of scrutiny of the promotional photos ... His brain slows down more ... he reads the sincere testimonials mentioned above. Great!, he thinks, It is Guaranteed! ... Well you can't go wrong with a Guarantee!

But the guarantee isn't worth the electrons it is written on. Even in the USA, the bold and brash capital of capitalism, where some people seem to have lost their capacity to feel a shred of embarrassment, who is going to put their hand up and admit to doubts, fears and feelings of inadequacy about the size of their one-eyed trouser snake?

More to the point, if they make a claim, How are they going to prove that the remedy didn't work?? ... Ok don't answer that. It was rhetorical. Still it is the USA! I could be proven wrong. An unhappy PE client could pop up on one of those amazing TV shows (such as the The Gerry Springer Show), which feature Americans discussing intimate aspects of their lives in great detail ... in conjunction with a court case, which reveals all! ... No! I don't want to go there ... just kidding!

Although, it would be interesting to find out just how many customers (victims?) have asked for their money back. According to the PE sites, none of them have ever asked for a refund. Not so surprising really.

In truth there would be far greater cause for concern if the preparations actually did work. Since that would mean that the pills contained bio-active constituents and would need to be investigated by food and drug authorities as a top priority. All of which could lead to dire consequences for the scammer.

In the long run, selling a placebo is much safer for the victim and the scammer.

Ironically, the PE scam has resulted from a rare example of an almost Ideal Market. The mythical specimen that used to be drawn on blackboards in Economics 101 classes. In this case it is the pornography market, a classic Ideal Market, fuelled by high demand, rapidly decreasing costs, technology change, "globalisation" and an almost limitless number of suppliers. All of which has resulted in the price of a formerly expensive product being driven towards zero, along with the production cost. What was formerly a scarce and sought after product (pornography) is now so cheap and readily available, it is nothing more than burley, thrown overboard to entice stupid fish up from the bottom of the Internet Pond.

All of the above poses an ideological dilemma for those who espoused "Free Market" solutions for everything. "It is inevitable", they said, "Everyone's doing it -- we have to become internationally competitive". Those voices that insisted so stridently that we shut up and take our Free Market Medicine are the same voices that squeal loudest and longest at what their sacred market has delivered - porno and penis placebo pills!

The bleating protests have amalgamated into a shrill cacophony of outrage. The inevitable calls for legislation, stiffer penalties, firm action ... anything to stop the naughty unregulated market from functioning for possibly the first time ever, as a text book example of an ideal market, has lately reached a wailing crescendo of indignation that reached the grassy hilltops in Canberra. There it caught the ear of politicians eager to be "seen to be doing something" rather than actually doing something.

In Australia legislators have moved against this rampant online market with all the swiftness and decisiveness of dead sheep. Taking their cue from the US, the Australian government has opted for supply-side regulation only. An approach that has consistently and spectacularly failed for far more substantive illegal industries such as the illicit drugs trade, which of course involves the manufacture, marketing and distribution of a physical product. If supply-side regulation and enforcement fails to have an impact on a hard physical industry like the drugs trade, the approach has no chance of being applied to a soft and ephemeral industry that is as pervasive and fleet of foot as the new e-porn industry appears to be. E-porn business is not only fast moving but so economical that most of them could literally run on the smell of an oily rag (or perhaps that should be used knickers?). Worst of all (for the would-be enforcers), the product (pornography) is virtual!

Nevertheless, in a determined effort to make a complete laughing stock of themselves and most of our social institutions, the Australian Parliament outlawed Pornography on the Internet. It is still hard to believe that they actually did it! The hoots of hollow laughter had hardly died down from this effort, which would have to be considered one of the genuine low-lights in their derisible record in communications and IT, when the government foreshadowed that they would cap it by Banning Spam! After much anticipation and debate, the legislation has been framed, and will soon become law. Spam will be outlawed in Australia! (see bibliography). Frankly, I don't know what to say about that ... I am almost lost for words!

Despite the best efforts of legislators, e-porn remains one of the few online businesses with steady growing profits ... That is until prices actually reach zero! And the PE scammers seem to have become an integral component of the industry adding an important revenue stream which will help maintain profits in the face of decreasing prices. Like others in the e-porn industry, PE scammers have become less savoury denizens of the net, swimming effortlessly in the global information flows. Even if Mike from Girrawheen does indeed live in Girrawheen, it would be difficult to identify him or his business. And if the authorities got close, he could easily melt back into anonymity only to re-emerge with an entirely new alias. In any case Mike from Girrawheen, if he exists, is only one Aussie swimming in an international pool. The scam is an almost perfect self sustaining system, and should bring a steady trickle of funds, mainly from the USA. Yes size really counts! And judging by the number of sites in on the scam, the cash-flow continues to this very day.

And did I mention China? Well I should have. Because the potential of China both as a market for and a source of e-porn is awesome. Now that is bound to put some steam in our global trousers!

Meanwhile, the dinosaurian vested interests that have tied up gambling, so effectively and for so long must be looking over their shoulders with a considerable amount of trepidation. Right wing Christian fundamentalists, in any country must be apoplectic with rage! Have been for hundreds of years in fact.

Things look bright for the e-porn industry in general and the PE scammers in particular. There is only one cloud in their silver lining. A dark brooding cloud on the horizon of the almost ideal PE free enterprise blue sky ... Every time the PE scammers contact their dull-witted potential customers, they also contact millions of non-customers, most of whom are not nearly so happy to hear from them. Now, if the PE scammers could just work out a way to contact their marks directly without annoying those other millions, they really would have the perfect scam. And we could leave them to get on with business ...


Thanks to Dan Byrnes, historian, poet, journalist and sometimes enraged spam victim, for editing and comments. One of which was so good, I posted it here.
Deeko.Net Archived whois listing for PillMedics. It seems that PillMedics had a little Mediterranean holiday in late 2002. Rawtocash / js.fortnight virus. This site names pillmedics as one of the sites that is the ultimate destination of a virus that hijacks MSIE.

Senator Alston Australian Govt To Ban Spam. *** Removed *** At last, we can all rest easy! The Australian government, through the auspices of the DCITA, is going to rid the world of spam. Just like they rid the world of pornography. According to this lightweight official piece of government flim-flam, the DCITA is going to achieve this by applying "spam repellant", in the same way that one might apply "Aeroguard", in order to repell mozzies from a BBQ on the patio. This document would be highly amusing if only it wasn't meant to be serious!

Ed: Unfortunately this classic document has been removed. Possibly the DCITA were feeling a little embarrassed about it? I only wish I had taken a copy of it, before it was swept under the carpet. It used to be located at:,,0_1-2_1-4_115938,00.html

There is a follow-up to this article called The Spam Tide Rises, which examines how ineffective the legislation has been.

EFA Submission to DCITA re Internet Censorship Regime. For those of you who failed to notice the DCITA rid the world of pornorgraphy, you will be pleased to learn that you are not alone. This assessment by Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) adds weight to the view that the ill-conceived censorship regime has been a waste of time, effort and taxpayers' money. More seriously this document casts considerable doubt on the accuracy and honesty of the data that the government has published, in an attempt to justify the legislation. To date, very little information such as this has surfaced in mainstream media channels.

ZDNet Australia may send spammers to gaol. There seems to be less official pronouncements regarding the long awaited anti-spam legislation. Just mindless pap like this article about "sending spammers to gaol". One earnest government spokesman said on talk-back recently that (the law would be effective because) "all that was required was to make an example of a few individuals". You could be forgiven for thinking that there is a deliberate attempt to discourage discussion of the new law. Could this be because they already realise that it will turn out as gormless and ineffectual as most of their policy in communications and IT?