Motley Fool: Immoral or Incompetent?

I have to say I feel quite let down.

When I first started investing to save for my retirement (quite some time ago) I came across material from the Gardiner brothers, a.k.a. the “Motley Fools”. The information was funny and empowering, helping me to learn more about this important topic. One of their key principles was that you could get your best performance using low cost mutual funds/index funds and bypass all the shenanigans that Wall Street tried to sell you. They were lauded for their ethical approach to investing and straightforward talk.

Well over the years they seem to have strayed from this index fund advice, and I was riding along with them by becoming a member of fool.com. They had a good privacy policy and claimed to not give away your email address. However, they started sending out these incredibly long emails pitching their own various newsletters and advisory services, and I still hung on despite starting to feel uneasy. Others have written about this change and some took them to task for it. But their “CAPS” experiment was interesting, and I could easily delete the emails, so I still stuck around.

Well, a short time ago I started getting SPAM messages sent to the email address I gave them. Owning my own domain, I am able to give out unique virtual email addresses to anyone I wish — in doing so, I can track down just what I’m ticked off about and going to relate to you here. So understand that my email address with fool.com is only known by me and them.

These new SPAM mailings are coming from very shady pitches for penny stocks, etc. They are the standard dregs of the internet masking as investment advice at best, and are potentially identity theft schemes at their worst. And here’s the kicker: these are being sent to the unique address I gave fool.com – which exists in reality in no place but their own servers.

So I dutifully sent an email to their provided address for such things (PrivacyPete@fool.com), and waited. And waited. It has now been a loooooooong time (nearly a year ago now) and nobody has got back to me about this. So this leaves me with just two possibilities (is there any other?):

  • Motley Fool is violating their own privacy pledge and has starting selling their mailing list, or
  • Motley Fool’s account management has been hacked, proving their incompetency in protecting subscriber information.

Either of which is totally unacceptable. I’m a Fool no more.

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10 Responses to Motley Fool: Immoral or Incompetent?

  1. Christopher says:

    I just noticed this today, in my case also with a unique email address that is only known to Motley Fool.

    However, I got a USATODAY.com email newsletter (actually from them; not some spam or weird phishing scam) for no apparent reason. If anything, I would have signed up to the UK version of their site back when I did, many years ago.

    Actually… now that I check my mail server, even the oldest logs from December last year have half-a-dozen very obviously spammy emails that got filtered out well before they got near my inbox.

    I use their UK share dealing site, so it looks like I’ll have to reconsider.

  2. Paul says:

    I’ve had 13 spam and phishes to my unique Motley Fool email address since August 2011, beginning with “Enlargement Pills” and “luxury watches” and lately LinkedIn and other phishes. Today it’s “International m a r r i a g e agency is one of the modern ways of interaction for the men who dream about meeting Russian or the Ukrainian dear friends.” All refer to Russian websites.

    Unique addressing is very helpful, for when things go wrong, but it happens very seldom. If I told Motley Fool it was long ago. The email address I use is guessable (and obvious), but I’m not seeing spam to other equally guessable addresses.

  3. franz says:

    Same here. Also using unique addresses and I just got a money laundring job offer email to my fool email. Looks like I should forward that fool.com email address to /dev/null

  4. Jeffrey says:

    Well, it’s now 2013 and the Motley Fool Spammers are still at it since 2006.
    They don’t honor unsubscribe.

    I’ve reported to SpamCop here:
    http://spamcop.net/sc?id=z5503815844z30d824b777cc7b4a51d75b5b7eb56a97z
    and to these email addresses: afanning@fool.com, Promo@FoolMart.com, “Andy Cross, The Motley Fool”
    and, not a surprise they all bounced.

    Now they are more sophisticated in ignoring email, not providing electronic or telephone contacts.
    I just thought I’d update this thread for fun.

    Yes, of course I used a unique email address.
    Yes, several years ago I did sign up for a service.
    Yes, it took lots of work to get rid of them.
    Perhaps I was naive back then — I’m 70 now — but I just assumed it was “computer error” or such.
    Now I know that these fraud mongers, and spam mongers are deliberate, malicious, and viciously avoid contact and responsibility.

  5. James Woods says:

    Nothing has changed with them. I also signed up with a unique email address and not long after that the spam began. I don’t even mind third party emails but these are blatant spam emails for ripoff stock schemes.

  6. Paul says:

    I had been getting a plethora of unsolicited spam email from The Motley Fool. Even though I never even signed up for any of their newsletters or had any prior involvement with them.

    I politely emailed The Motley Fool requesting removal of my email address. After my fourth attempt asking them to heed to my request, I sent a fifth email of which my tone was very blunt, very direct and terse. I never got a reply to any of my emails and The Motley Fool kept sending their rubbish to my email box.

    As a last resort I had to increase my security setting on my email account to a maximum level. I don’t like doing this because emails from legitimate senders may get discarded in to the trash automatically. Fortunately emails from The Motley Fool were intercepted.

    After a month I was able to resume back to my previous email box security setting. Since then all emails from The Motley Fool have ceased. I believe that The Motley Fool is a pretty sleazy operation.

  7. Jerry Watson says:

    same here, in February 2015, tried to unsubscribe from their email list and all I get is an error, do they have a telephone number?

  8. MR says:

    I must urge anyone even vaguely thinking of signing up for anything with Motley Fool to STOP immediately. they are scam & spam crooks. within hours of signing up just to receive an article (not buy anything or opening an account) I have been utterly bombarded by 30 – 50 spam emails a day which are virtually impossible to filter out as constantly changing sender address. Motley Fool are clearly selling lists on, desperately trying to rip people off with kickbacks on spam/scam lists. They must rate as easily the most unprofessional organisation I have ever come across and while it would be easy to use a long list of expletives to describe them, I will just settle for scum as best description. Do not under any circumstances go anywhere near Motley Fool. you will regret it!!!!

  9. Mike says:

    Still happening in November 2015, started to get Motley Fool ‘spam’ to a unique email address I only supplied to them. It sounds like their membership emails have been copied while being processed (this often happens at third party data processing centers by rogue employees). I find myself supporing the opinions of MR.

  10. D says:

    They are still doing this. Either selling or incompetent at protecting their list.

    I run my own mailserver and battle spam everyday. I had effectively blocked all spammers or at the least directed them to my honeypot account. I was receiving no spam in my main mail accounts. Then after wanting to read an article by them (sponsored by CNN) and giving them my email I started getting a deluge of SPAM from the .top domain. The bad thing is that they appear to phishing scam or Trojan links. Same emails every day, with a link. I block the ips and they keep coming back with new ones.

    Be very careful giving them your email. Someone on the other end is selling or stealing their list and trying to lure you to steal your information. Very shady. I expect they’ll either be connected criminally to internet fraud or a class action lawsuit.

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