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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Spam, Scam, Thank You, Ma'aM - FreeIQ Vendor On The Loose?


Just want to get this out of the way.  There's a big misconception floating around - that I somehow like, or thrive off of, controversy...

I wish.

The truth is... I can't stand it.

So, before I clue you in on the latest, let me reiterate what this blog is about...

Here (when I'm up to it), we can discuss pretty much anything about the world of marketing whether it is good, sound, marketing techniques, stealth applications or boneheads who make life difficult for everyone else.

And here's what it is isn't...

This blog (and myself) do not go out looking for, or creating, controversy.  It either comes to me, or I stumble across it, and I usually don't shy away or back down from it... unless there'd be a really good reason for it.  It's only the perpetrators who accuse me of bullying but whoever steps back and looks at the scene objectively will see that the "bullying" is nothing short of a simple, long-term discussion where they begin by defending their actions and then end by claiming they're being harrassed.  That's the formula...

  1. Defend actions, at length;
  2. Have defense questioned;
  3. Call Sam names and accuse him of being mean;

What can I say, folks?  I'm like a Timex that just keeps ticking.  If someone responds to me, I respond to their response and, generally, I'll keep going until the matter is resolved or until I think the public has witnessed enough to make their own intelligent decision.  Onward...

Today's Controversy:

Now, here's one of the latest controversies.  I discovered it - as it happened to me - and took the time to analyze it - so you probably won't find news of it anywhere else.


I got a couple of SPAM emails in which the doofus spammer accidentally included a bunch of the emails from the spam list.  Knowing that one of the spam-prevention tricks people use when signing up for a mailing list is to create a mail account specifically for that mailing list (like if you were to sign up for mine, you might create "samslist AT" as your email address), I scanned them for any signs of similarities.

To my chagrin, I spotted recurrences of a site name belonging to a well-known internet marketer, Brad Fallon.  And the site was...

A "YouTube"-Plus for Internet Marketers
(here's my author page, for example)

Now, let me be clear.  Knowing Brad's reputation, I can easily stipulate that he would never resort to breaching anyone's privacy.  He seems well capable of making money and helping marketers quite honestly and legitimately.  I also can't even say that it really did HAPPEN at, or through, FreeIQ, but the presence of "freeiq", five times, in the email addresses of people on the spammer's list is pretty good evidence of a connection.

And the names on the list aren't no-namers either... some of the names on the spammer's list include some well-known internet marketers with whom Brad is acquainted such as Mike Filsaime, Armand Morin, Cody Moya and Joel Comm.  There's even an email address FROM FreeIQ on the list so someone AT FreeIQ is on the spammer's list, too.

So What Happened?

More than likely, it is the work of some unscrupulous vendor at FreeIQ.  The vendor probably made some sweet-as-pie offer or is a good-guy-turned-bad since the list included big-name marketers who generally don't need the kinds of things offered by average marketers.

I honestly just can't believe anyone would be this evil and stupid and I hope Brad takes this seriously and gets to the bottom of it even if his privacy policy warns of it.

Last I heard, VIA TWITTER FOLKS, is that Brad had been looking for venture capital.  I'm not sure why he'd need it since everything I read about StomperNet, etc, talks about how 100s pay $1000s monthly to be members but there it is on Twitter: he's seeking venture capital.  And I think there would be some concern, and rightfully so, if somehow, users of FreeIQ are having their private information compromised.... even through a vendor.

And I have some thoughts on how, very simply, he can investigate this problem.

The Solution

This is really simple, actually.  And it should be taken seriously.

From what I can see, whenever someone buys or signs up for something from a FreeIQ vendor, the vendor collects the lead information including the email.  FreeIQ SHOULD keep a list of those leads somewhere in its database even if the vendor imports then deletes them.  This will allow FreeIQ to EASILY follow-up on spam concerns and to cross-reference any such spam lists that come to light such as was accidentally included in the spammer's mail.

I know, for example, that I don't recall signing up for much, if anything at all, at FreeIQ so if FreeIQ had a way to determine how many FreeIQ vendors have received my lead, the whole field would be narrowed down immediately and significantly.  And I'm willing to provide him with the portion of the spam list found in the spam mail.

In Conclusion
"Why didn't you just go tell him privately, Sam?"

I would have liked to, really, but let's face it - things never really work out that way.  It would be nice if they did.  But what I've come to expect in similar situations is a pleasant little form letter saying something like, "Thank you, we'll look into it." after which one never hears back from them again.

As I said, clearly, I am not definitively stating that this happened via FreeIQ but that, having been in this field for some time now, I know how people set up their email addresses for spam prevention when joining lists and "freeiq" appears at least 5 times in the list - and some major marketers with whom Brad is acquainted are on that list.

Whatever the case may be, I'll definitely keep my readers updated.

Sam Freedom"s Internet Marketing Controversy Blog

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Pete said...

Hi Sam, interesting post this, mainly because you say you've noticed 'big names' in a spam list and drawn a natural conclusion (as we all would).
BUT! For the last few months I've been getting E-mails in my MAIN inbox, supposedly from ME......
When I open up, it's the usual spam.

Now I've checked for spelling mistakes, added spaces etc, all the usual tricks they use and NOTHING......
Somehow this Pratt is using MY E-mail address to send out spam to all and sundry, (including ME)

I've been on to AOL, even sent them copies of the E-mails I've received. Their response is......wait for it......"It can't happen".

Well quite clearly it CAN happen. I even had one in my inbox this morning.So if it can happen to a no-one like me, it can happen to 'anyone'. Yes, sorry Sam, but YOU might even be unwittingly be having SPAM sent in 'your' name. So maybe Brad's FREEIQ site is absolutely innocent in all this, as I'm sure we'd all agree that Brad himself would never stoop so low.

(I too think the site is a brilliant concept we should all use)

I hope this info has been of some value. It is FACT!

Keep the great stuff coming,



Sam Freedom said...

Right on, Pete. I agree with what you said 100% and tried to make it abundantly clear that Brad has a reputation that puts him well beyond anything nefarious.

However, like I said, the phrase "freeiq" does show up in 5 of the email addresses and the only reason I can see those being together in one spam list is because some FREEIQ vendor is either being unethical or, as you said, had his pc compromised.

So, like I said, a quick solution would be to cross-match the spam list that I was sent with the freeiq vendor leads database to find out who the victim/victimizer is and to inform them to either perform advanced virus scan or to cease and desist.

But to do nothing is, in my opinion, irresponsible.


Pete said...

Have you contacted Brad?
He seems amiable enough, and surely he'd thank you for bringing it to his attention. He's probably employed the proverbial 'bad apple' somewhere down the line and would need to weed him or her out.


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