Tag Archives: SPAM

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.

Gmail’s Undocumented Filters

I use gmail to host my domain’s mail accounts. Mostly this has been a pure joy, particularly as it means I don’t have to pay for the storage space on my hosting account any more.

One thing, however, has been a continuing annoyance: Gmail is weaker on filtering on emails in a comprehensive way (at least vs. the the extent I could via cpanel). In particular, you can’t do “any header contains” filtering, and wildcards aren’t really supported. As a result, some known things I could filter for and send straight to trash ended up going into my spam folder.

In general gmail does spam filtering well, but because of the fact I had a domain back in the very early public internet days (so get a lot of spam to old and made up addresses) and the way I manage email addresses, it sometimes puts stuff there it shouldn’t. So I have to keep reviewing the spam folder — hence my frustration with the lack of “any header” filtering. Otherwise I could knock off all known spam (incoming at a rate of thousands of messages a day) straight to trash and that would only leave the new stuff to review in the spam folder.

Well, today I discovered that there are several undocumented filters available in gmail. Among these is a “DeliveredTo:” filter. So, let’s say you’re getting mail in your account that appears to be actually sent to “izucocomas6250@com.ar” (yes, a real spam message had this) – but it is showing up in your own account with you not listed. Most likely you are being Bcc’d on the mail. You can see this if you do a “Show Original” mail, and there will be a “Delivered-To: youremailaddress@yourdomain.tld” right at the top. Gmail normally lets you filter on From: and To: and “Has the words”, etc., from within the filter dialog. But none of these apply in this situation — luckily, DeliveredTo: does!

So how do you use DeliveredTo:? You enter it in the “Has the words” field – that’s perfectly intuitive, right? 🙂 Of course not… but that’s how it works.

So, for example, to filter for anything Bcc’d to complaints@amazon.com, under “Has the words” you’d enter:

Take that, spammers!