In June last year, the mailhub for the PGTS site was busier then usual processing some egregious spam from a Florida spam gang. This spamming incident was a global event and it has subsequently catapulted CashBlasterPro into the Internet Hall Of (Small Time) Infamy. At the time your blogger cast aspersions as to the authenticity of the purported author, Robert Kuntz. However, as it turns out, he may actually exist!
When your humble blogger first encountered the CashBlasterPro spammers, it seemed that some of the names associated with them belonged to people who were already well-known on the Internet, for activities other then spamming. And so dear reader, your blogger rather hastily concluded that the names were phony. However, information has since come to hand that they might be real. Of course there is The Robert Kuntz ... The famous game-designer ... You can read about him on Wikipedia. But the other Robert Kuntz, unlike his famous baby-boomer namesake is a Gen-X email marketeer, who initially hailed from California, and then moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, and later to Florida ... And he is, well, dear reader how can I put this? He is more than famous! ... He's not just famous, he's IN-famous!
Some of the businesses (the other) Robert was associated with during his travels from California to Florida included companies with less than illustrious titles, such as Tips4Profits.com, Y2K Highway Inc and CashBlasterPro. However we should not hold his poor choice of company nomenclature against him. More serious was an incident during his time as CEO of Y2K Highway, when the SEC filed a complaint against him and his company, for Internet fraud and spam. Details of this complaint can be found in SEC Litigation Release No. 16556
And last week, all the way from north eastern USA, came news of a case in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court, involving The Cervelle Group of Florida. It is alleged that this group were engaged in Pump and Dump scams. This was rather old news, dear reader, since the case began over a year ago. However it was brought to your blogger's attention by a resident of Pennsylvania who had occasion to read this humble blog, and felt inclined to pass this little tidbit along with the additional information that the Cervelle Group employed the same (CashBlasterPro) Florida spam gang to do the pumping.
To date, your humble blogger has not confirmed this rumour ... However, it does seem that the Cervelle domain is hosted by a Florida company called AnyThingEmail.com. Now, you may think dear reader, that any company based in Florida, the spam capital of the Free World, with a name like "AnyThingEmail.com", is hardly going to be selling cookies for the local girl guides group. And if that thought did cross your mind dear reader, I must say it is a cruel thought indeed ... Cruel but probably fair. It also poses the question is there really a BJ Bishop? And what has become of him? And what happened to the Buzzbot and the Web 2.0 Upgrade of the entire Internet at the click of a mouse?
And also dear reader, if you are not up to date with Internet investing, you might wonder ... How exactly do Pump and Dump scams work?
The scam is, like many post-modern scams, an old one wearing new Internet apparel. It is a form of securities fraud. In the USA it was sometimes called Microcap Stock Fraud, because it often involved so-called Microcap companies. It works like this ... The stock price of the company is ramped up by promulgating false rumours, purporting to be inside information. If the rumours catch and spread the perpetrators can offload their inflated stock for a considerable profit.
The modern variant is more likely to involve companies traded on the NASDAQ Small Cap market, and the scammers usually employ electronic means such as email to spread the rumours. The most common electronic instruments are:
Spamming: The tried and true method of touting for fraudulent, criminal and/or other dubious activities. Spam is a key ingredient of most Internet fraud. The more modern variants might employ botnets, malware and phishing to amplify and accelerate delivery.
Splogging: This describes the activity of creating fake or contrived "blogs". Splogs usually contain some fake news, some fake postings, some fake replies and possibly even some fake replies to the fake replies. Eventually you will get to the hook. This is usually constructed with fake passion ... It's used to be easy to spot ... Last year it would have looked something like this:
I am really, really passionate/pumped/excited/blown away (choose over-blown hyperbole) about this new (insert scam here) that I just discovered on the Internet and I can't wait to share with you all ... I think it is great these guys are offering this for totally FREE! (or CHEAP! etc) You'd better get in early and take advantage of this fantastic/fabulous/amazing/unbelievable (choose additional hyperbole) offer while it lasts! etc., etc.Now, of course there is lots of passion around on the Internet. Genuine bloggers who are passionate about knitting and macrame, Microsoft, movies and movie stars etc., etc. There are even some such as your humble blogger who is a dispassionate advocate for Open Standards, Open Source, genuine competition and netiquette. And your humble blogger must add, as an aside that if Open Standards, Open Source and netiquette were widely adopted it would significantly reduce the incidence of Internet crime. Genuine blogs differ from splogs, in that they generally show evidence of regular maintenance. Usually, if a splog contains news or opinion, the material has been plagiarised ... And ironically, now that spammers and scammers have taken a cold shower along with the banking and finance industry, some splogs carry warnings about scams!. Your humble blogger's own musings have been plageriased on some of the latest generation of splogs. In some cases "fake news" is posted on a complete fake news website! (e.g. The Google Easy Money Scam)
Spengling: This is, yours humbly confesses, a neologism, coined to describe the activity of spamming or attempting to spam search engines. In the good old days of the Internet, this was merely a matter of putting invisible key words on the page. These days spengling strategies are more elaborate and may try to take advantage of the fact that search engines are faceless monoliths quietly crunching the network of links that form the backbone of the Internet. And they give more credence to particular sites. Therefore, as an extreme example, a link from Slashdot or New York Times online has more weight than a link from MyBuzzBot.com. The fraudsters create a large network of splogs all linking to one another ... And then contrive to get a quality link from an established site, which will lift the ranking of the network of splogs. Most search engines will (eventually) take counter-measures, as will most reputable webmasters and gatekeepers ... However in the case of get rich quick schemes or pump and dump scams, by the time the link has been removed, the scammers will have departed with their money, leaving an empty shell.
So what will happen to the CashBlasterPro spammers now that the SEC seems to be catching up with them? Perhaps, after all this, it is possible to say that there is such a thing as bad publicity?
Yes, Dusty, They're Not Just Famous! ... They're more than famous ...