I was checking my MT Activity logs, and was stunned to see how much comment spam I’m blocking with MT Blacklist. This got me thinking about spam in general, and led me to this article in the Kansas City Star which details the activity of a spammer selling various kinds of insurance. The money quote (literally) is
Completed forms, in turn, are sold to agents of legitimate companies, such as IndyMac Bank, ADT Security and MEGA Life and Health Insurance. The agents say they pay $3 to $7 for each referral. (emphasis added)
I can’t see anything legitimate about a company that employs criminal methods in its business, while pretending to be at arms length from the whole thing. It seems pretty clear that the way to make this kind of spam uneconomical is to make the employers of spammers liable for civil action. While I think estimates of $2000/employee, mentioned in the story, are over the top, the economic damage done by spammers is immense – more than enough to put firms like those mentioned out of business if they were forced to bear their share of the bill.
Of course, this wouldn’t work so well against the purveyors of generic viagra, penis enlargement and so on, where the businesses are just as fly-by-night as the spammers. But every little helps.
UpdateCoincidentally, the NYT reports that dozens of spammers have been charged with a variety of offences
fn1. I’ve emailed one of them (IndyMac Bank) to see if they have a response to the KC Star story. If I get one, I’ll report it.