[Note: As of 7/11/2012 Awesomepennystocks.com has been removed from the SpamHaus DBL]
Many people were surprised when Awesomepennystocks.com and the related group of 20 or more websites stopped promoting pump and dump stock Great Wall Builders (GWBU). The last email I received from Awesomepennystocks.com was at 2:30pm EST on June 24th. Just yesterday I saw a mention of a blog post by a noted spam fighter posted on the iHub Fraud Research Team / Due Diligence message board (the only good message board on iHub). The blog post is the SpamBouncer MainSleaze blog.
The post itself is fairly ordinary — a spam fighter indicated that an email address used only to check for spam received email from Awesomepennystocks.com. The blog post is also fairly old: it was posted on June 5th. The comments are the interesting part. Andrew Barrett, a higher-up at iContact (Director, ISP Relations & Deliverability) replied the same day, saying:
Thanks for the heads-up, Catherine. I’m in Berlin at the moment, but I’ll have our compliance team drop a hammer.
Then there are a few comments from “centroazteca”, purportedly written on behalf of Awesomepennystocks.com (Centro Azteca S.A. is the entity listed at the bottom of their emails). Those comments are quite funny, especially where “centroazteca” writes, “We work with large companies such as Goldman Sachs, and only profile legitimate small companies who are looking to succeed.”
The first reply from “centroazteca” was posted on June 23rd, presumably as the people behind Awesomepennystocks.com realized that Spamhaus Block List was about to add their domain name to its list of domain names that it recommends that email providers not accept emails from (see an explanation of how blocklists work). On June 24th, Andrew Barrett posted the following comment on the blog post:
Hi Catherine, I have killed the account. I apologize for the length of time it has taken to correctly and permanently remediate the issue. I will be working with management to identify all the points at which our processes broke down, and to correct them. All the best, Andrew.
The blogger then asked why “centroazteca” had shown up three weeks after the blog post to comment, and Barrett responded by saying:
Well, I hate to name names, but it rhymes with “Spamhaus”
Tom Mortimer of Spamhaus replied to that comment (bold added):
SBL listings are public record, Andrew. It’s quite alright with us if you name names, although we do appreciate the discretion on other issues. Speaking of which, there were some other issues than simple spam in this case. I can’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that this was most certainly a customer that no reasonable ESP or ISP would want on their network. :/
Right before posting this blog post, I checked the Spamhaus block list and found that AwesomePennyStocks.com is listed as being on the list (marked as a spammer). However, none of their other domain names or IP addresses of which I am aware appear on the list. Check here to see if it is still on the list. I think it is likely that having their main domain name added to the Spamhaus block list forced Awesomepennystocks.com to change internet hosting providers and judging from Barrett’s comments it is likely they are being forced to find a new email service provider.
A cursory check of a few of the websites of Awesomepennystocks.com shows that the welcome emails they are currently sending to new subscribers are being sent using Aweber.com, which is further evidence that iContact is no longer doing business with them.
Consider the timing of the last pump email on GWBU and the comment from Andrew Barrett. I do not think it is a coincidence that Awesomepennystocks.com and related websites have not sent any emails since Barrett wrote that he had “killed the account”. This is an interesting development and may mark a turning point in the effort to fight pump and dumps.