What do you do with a spammer's personal details?

I pity spammers in some way. They just seem so desperate. The recent episode with our friend ‘Vera’ continued for a week or so after the blog post that went with it, resulting in a wealth of personal information about one of the spamming team being sent over to me.

The good news is that, while the odd spam email does still slip through from them, it is nothing like the frequency I was receiving them at before. They also seem oblivious to the fact that I am blogging about their operation to the wider translation community. For now, at least.

The bad news is that with all of this information, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do. The new translation-scammers.com ‘Intelligence Group’ would welcome the information, but apart from not knowing who even they are, and given that 99% of the scams seem to originate from the person or team I’m dealing with and that they are quite intent on shutting them down, I feel a little apprehensive about sharing these details without knowing the damage they could cause. Especially if the person involved turns out to be merely a scapegoat or fall-guy.

It’s like the identity of the Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto being currently confused, which is potentially putting an innocent man’s life in danger. I wouldn’t like to get an innocent person into trouble (victim of ID theft, etc.) through aggressively pursuing a sort of vendetta against them when all they are really doing is a form of street begging, with all of the frustrating deceipt and pity tactics involved there.

So what do I know? I have the full bank details (with real name), an ID card photocopy (with matching details) and a recent colour headshot of the person purporting to be the friend of Vera (which matches the ID). All of that information was sent in order to be ‘added to our database’ and ‘brought onto the project’, of course. Now this person might just be the ‘clean’ friend with a bank account and good reputation who can process payments for the actual spam/scammer. It may do no good at all to pursue him.

If you try to retrieve the password of any of the spam email accounts in Gmail you get a suggestion that the password will be sent to h••••@2••••••••••.net which is clearly the same as the reference email address given: hamza@24translate.net - the odds of them not being the same are tiny when considering the length of the composite sections, the recent mention of the same email in context and the many mentions of this email address out and about online.

Now whether this Hamza character is real or just an alias for the person whose details I’ve received, remains a mystery. There doesn’t seem to be a way to actually make use of the personal details I have obtained to stop the spammer completely. I don’t know if their actions are illegal in Palestine, or what punishments might befall them if it were illegal, and at whose hands. I would rather sit and talk to the scammer to get them to stop, but I can’t really see that happening, short of a Skype call. Perhaps a screen capture of that conversation would clear up who was operating under which name. Or not.

I’d say the best thing for us as a community to do would be to keep gaining their IP address and complaining to their ISP until they are forced to switch provider or stop altogether. It might not even be necessary to obtain their IP address now that the ISP knows the name of the customer in question (something they would have found out in their systems from my previous inquiry - they haven’t shared this name). Continuous complaining has been known to work. But I’m at a loss for what else to do.

Now that it’s gone this far all ideas are welcome. Do please get in touch if you have a thought.

Thanks for reading. I do translation from French and Swedish to English, so if that's useful to you, feel free to connect and message me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Published by and tagged translation using 670 words.