Wackiest spam ever

May 11th, 2011, 11:19 pm PST by Greg

So I got this random email reporting a broken link on my CMPT 470 web site. It’s a little unusual to get an email like that from someone who was apparently not a student, but not totally crazy.

From: angela.hill88@gmail.com
Subject: Found a broken link on your page

Hey Greg,

I found a broken link on
[web page on my course site] and since I
was researching computer science and needed the page, I found an updated
article online. 

The broken link to "Howto for Python" is
[the once-working link] and I found an article on the front
page of [some not-totally-related web site] if you wanted to fix it.
Click the tab "Beginner Python Tutorials" to get to the article.

Figure I'd send you an email because others may need that link for the same
reasons!

Thanks!

Angela Hill
angela.hill88@gmail.com

I googled the sender, and found this essentially-identical broken link report with the same “correct” URL. There are a few other examples a Google away. It’s freakin’ link spam!

If anybody really wants to find the target page (that I’m not going to link to prevent bumping their pagerank for any reason), it’s “onlinecomputersciencedegree” with a “www” and a “com”. The site itself is entirely content-free: all external links to other pages.

Somebody’s plan must be:

  1. Crawl tech link pages.
  2. Link-checking all of their links. (The examples I have are actually broken links.)
  3. Finding the creator’s email and first name on the page. (or accessible somewhere else nearby?)
  4. Emailing that address with the spam link come-on.
  5. Hoping they blindly link to your site without noticing that it’s entirely worthless.
  6. Profit?

How is this possibly a thing? Am I missing something?

4 Responses to “Wackiest spam ever”

  1. Chuk Says:

    Ha, I just got one of those too, same sender. I’m not going to that page either.

  2. Cyril Gupta Says:

    It sound way too tedious to be profitable

  3. Joel Says:

    Wow, I too received an extremely similar email. I found your blog entry by googling “angela.hill88@gmail.com” since she never replied to my email asking who she was and why was she interested in this. Very strange — I agree the whole scheme seems rather tedious just to improve the pagerank of this onlinecomputersciencedegree page, but I guess stranger things have happened…

  4. Dave Hughes Says:

    I imagine step 3 is a breeze. Perhaps it doesn’t even attempt to scrape page content. Your meta/link tags tell all: