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Mon Aug 29 2016 17:25:40

Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts

By: David Steiner

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As online merchants, you are probably sensitive to changes to marketplaces affecting your businesses. As online publishers focused on ecommerce, not only are we keenly aware of those changes, we also closely track trends that may affect our ability to get our message to readers.

Over the last week, we noticed a sudden increase in usage of our contact forms and subscription boxes all coming from a myriad of IP addresses originating in India.

Obviously there were only a couple of assumptions we could make:  Either we've become extremely popular in Mumbai, or we were getting hit by spammers.

A closer look at the email addresses showed that ALL of them were using Gmail accounts. 100%. Now, anyone could fill in a form, using a Gmail address that didn't really exist, but what was interesting, was that over 50% of these accounts had to DOUBLE-OPT IN to register for an email newsletter, meaning that there had to be someone at the end of that Gmail address, clicking on a confirmation link to complete a registration. 

We confirmed with our list host that this a widespread problem, affecting other publishers over the past week. They also confirmed that many of the emails had been opened, pointing away from the likelihood that the culprit was a bot attack, but rather, a large network of Gmail accounts created to spam websites.

This dumps the issue clearly on Gmail's doorstep. Google has yet to respond on our inquiry about the matter.

Some examples of the thousands of email addresses coming in over the past week are:

mohits***1122.ms@gmail.com
sonivi***137@gmail.com        
vive***kkapde@gmail.com
abh***v.int320@gmail.com
singhr***0@gmail.com
skverm***082@gmail.com
dharan***sumatary755@gmail.com
anilsa***294@gmail.com
mdallau***dinkhan86@gmail.com

Now for the ironic part. Gmail is the most problematic service for online publishers, giving us fits when it comes to getting our DOUBLE-OPT IN emails to legitimate subscribers. They stick email in promotions folders, spam folders, Larry Page's basement - anywhere that it makes it virtually impossible for a user to find it.

In fact, the NUMBER ONE question we receive concerning subscriptions is, "Where is my newsletter? I can't find it in my Gmail account," thanks to Google filtering our emails from readers who want to receive it.

Evidently, Google forgot, in their effort to keep spam from getting TO Gmail users, to police - in a Keystone Kops kind of way - the amount of Spam coming FROM Gmail users.

Because it's happening to other email lists, we're concerned how this might impact online sellers. Have you been affected by a sudden increase in this type of attack?




Comments (4) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts   Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 29 17:38:18 2016

Most of those emails are just ripe with " this is a fake ". When we get a email that looks funny like the ones you list and its a zero feedback loser we just cancel the auction and block. Easy as pie.

Those clowns in Pakistan and India can't spell much less come up with an original email.

Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts   Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts

by: ebayisscrewed This user has validated their user name.

Mon Aug 29 20:14:02 2016

The change to the Google inbox system to promotions etc created the single largest drop in open rates to our marketing efforts ever.   Our normal open rate was around 35% now we are lucky to get 5%.  

Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts   Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 30 10:07:45 2016

Same story, punish legitimate users while allowing some third world country to do as they please.

Google probably let em do it for coin. Wouldnt put it passed em.

Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts   Google Hit by India Spam Network Using Millions of Gmail Accounts

by: val2525 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 30 11:00:27 2016

Gmail sucks.  I finally had to advise one of my clients to have all employees set the option to view the spam folder, as gmail was randomly placing legitimate emails into the spam folder.  THe client had no idea.  Yesterday, gmail refused to deliver legitimate business emails to another client. We have no idea why, we sent test emails from multiple accounts on various email platforms. Add to that the fact that one cannot sort emails in gmail and the product is pretty useless for business.



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