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Spamming by registering to Lightstalkers

Are you aware that there are people registering to Lightstalkers and sending spam as private messages to members of this community? I just got a Nigerian letter via Lighstalkers.org and wasn’t very pleased. I know that I can turn the private message option off (I guess) but that would make it difficult for real people to contact me with real issues.

by Tuomo Björksten at 2005-12-08 05:38:42 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Jyväskylä , Finland | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Just got one myself. Damn, and I thought I was going to be rich…

by Allen Sullivan | 08 Dec 2005 06:12 | Atlanta, United States | | Report spam→
Receiving a Nigerian letter is not new. It’s just quite annoying that even this website can’t defend itself from spammers. Someone is actually registering just to send those messages. Is it really so big business or don’t they just have – say – a life?

by Tuomo Björksten | 08 Dec 2005 06:12 | Jyväskylä, Finland | | Report spam→
Tuomo, you can block him by going to his profile and clicking on the block button.  but no worries, I alerted shinji and the guy will be cut off as soon as Shinji can get around to it.  And actually, yes it is a business with quite a good return.  There are a few guys there that run the show, and they hire local street kids, train them in computers, and set them loose.

by Jon Anderson | 08 Dec 2005 07:12 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
Thanks Jon. If Shinji needs further information on the spesific user, I’d be happy to assist.

by Tuomo Björksten | 08 Dec 2005 07:12 | Jyväskylä, Finland | | Report spam→
Spammers and/or spam apps will always be able to register unless ID security is implemented on the site.

I myself actually responded to him, asked him to send pictures, and told him that I needed 150 USD put into my Paypal account as a security on his visa.

by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 08:12 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Hey Guys you lucky bastards I got a guy from Abidjan…Why don’t Nigerians ever write to me! Mine was for 10,000,000 $ US the only problem is he forgot to use spell check otherwise I might of sent him my bank details & my credit card details as i felt sorry for him….Only joking. I have also informed Shinji. It was a funny letter though!


by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I got one too. Said they were gonna give me a cut of 2m dollars from the legacy of a rich cocoa merchant if I helped them get into the UK.

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Bloody hell is that how much you can earn as a cocoa merchant…Hey up.. pack the cameras away & get on the first plane to the cocoa plantations…I wonder if fair trade know about this!

by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 09:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Yup, just got one from our friend Aminu the cocoa farmer opium cough uhh guy.

by Bill Thomas | 08 Dec 2005 10:12 | | Report spam→
Hi everyone, here I am. I’ve dealt with Mr Watara’s account and we won’t be seeing him around here any more.

A couple people asked, so I’ll answer here — unfortunately this guy got in to Lightstalkers the same way all of you did. He just signed up. We don’t screen applicants, which is generally a good thing. This is our first time seeing overt spam through the site; obviously it’s a cue to figure out some safeguards. I’ll let you guys know what we come up with…

by Shinji Kuwayama | 08 Dec 2005 10:12 | Chicago, United States | | Report spam→
me to, same guy, well the cut will be small if we all have to be part of the deal……….Problably he manage to come in and send the same email to all of us.

by Dominik | 08 Dec 2005 10:12 | Cairo, Egypt | | Report spam→
So, I took a look at this guy’s profile in detail. The red flag I see is that his account was brand-new — clearly he just signed up so that he could send private messages. Until we think up something more sophisticated, we’ll no longer allow PMs from accounts less than two weeks old. We’ll keep working on it. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, let us know — you can send email to support@lightstalkers.org.

by Shinji Kuwayama | 08 Dec 2005 11:12 | Chicago, United States | | Report spam→
Dominik I can truly say I was the first to get an Invitation from our friend in Abidjan so I have to say I am due 40% of the $US 10,000,000 trust  fund & the rest of you can squabble over the remainder. 

See you all in Abidjan for the parteee!

by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 13:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
‘Mr Watara’ does sound like a very fishy name now i think about it, more Japanese than West African… but no-one mentioned anything about opium or any other drugs to me… that paints all this spam in a far more serious light… rather than making a hasty decision on how to deal with it, i’ve decided to flip a coin… heads for ‘off to Abidjan’, tales for ‘the Golden Triangle’!

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 08 Dec 2005 14:12 (ed. Dec 8 2005) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I received the same Watara message. . . and was sort of shocked at first. Glad to hear they’ll figure out some safeguards for this great site.

by Davin Ellicson | 08 Dec 2005 14:12 | | Report spam→
ok mark if so it fine for me. as long I get 10-20% I will be happy, have a nice day, and hope for a good profit……….

by Dominik | 08 Dec 2005 15:12 | Cairo, Egypt | | Report spam→
Shinji ! :))). I’d like to add my 2 cents worth (instead of 10,000,000 (CAN) ;))…I was spared the invite letter from Africa (alas, I received the same letter maybe 10 years ago when I was first on the internet in California as part of a group based out of Berkley)…so, its funny (or not so) that now it comes around 10 years later…shit, the investment in "breaking into" computers/communities and other securities on the web gets more ingenious but their "pitch" remains the same: isnt this a prime example of reverse engineering! ;))). Anyway, i was spared, I didnt received any shitty PM’s here. So, Let me say this: I WANT TO PUBLICALLY THANK SHINJI AND TERU FOR PUTTING TOGETHER A REMARKABLE, SAFE AND THOUGHTFUL COMMUNITY. !!!! :)))))…I dont think this gets expressed nearly enough!. AND YO, FELLOW LIGHTSTALKERS, THIS COMMUNITY IS ENTIRELY FREE AND I LOVE IT! :))))))….I feel terrible that some MF’er joined us only to spam people, but I in now way hold Shinji, Teru or the site responsible. Hell, to me, that’s the facts we face. I have been amazed at how "clean" this site is. Let me offer this example: I’ve belonged to a photography forum/community based in Russia for more than 5 years, and I cannot tell you how atrocious it is (spam, viruses, hate mail, etc).

I really want to personally thank Shinji, Teru and the other organizers how thankful I am that I have an on-line community that is, in general, receptive, intelligent, and best of all HELPFUL!…Your security is top-notch in my opinion…and even though this recent email is a depressing example of the "market drunkeness" we all not live in this wide global world, I’ll live with this bullshit if it means I can chat with y’all, exchange idea and help fellow photographers.

So, Hat’s off to Shinji…thanks mate for all U guys do to make this place pretty clean, safe and enjoyable. Whiskey is on me…


by [former member] | 08 Dec 2005 17:12 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Meee toooo. I actually replied to him. I asked him if he knew what the bible says about lying.

by Takuya | 09 Dec 2005 01:12 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Yes, I answered as well. I asked him if his mama never beaten him for untruths, but he didn’t confess.

by [former member] | 09 Dec 2005 04:12 (ed. Dec 9 2005) | Gomel, Belarus | | Report spam→
Hi people, Ive also recived a whole lot of those mails. Last I checked my blocked mail, there was fore or five of them. Some chick with a dead uncle and a banker with a dead client… and blablabla….damn…so many people died over this money…! But they cant be very smart though, when they are sending those mails to journalist from every country they wanna scam…..Dont they know that our job is to tell about stuff like that…I wanna send them a thank you note for giving me more work…= )
But to be more serious…lots of people have fallen for this scam…and lost lots of money. Its even a buisness man from norway, that dispeared after a meeting with some of those people, so the mails and all the money have a way of blinding people…It weird how that works…and Im glad they are kicked out from here, but they probably still got our e-mails though……..so well hear from them again and again…and again…..


by Espen Mork Dahl | 09 Dec 2005 05:12 | Oslo, Norway | | Report spam→
Nice one mikhail.

by Takuya | 09 Dec 2005 14:12 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
Watara keeps sending me messages through direct e-mail. Oh… Unfortunately my spam filter does not automatically remove this kind of messages.

by Tuomo Björksten | 10 Dec 2005 05:12 (ed. Dec 10 2005) | Jyväskylä, Finland | | Report spam→
if you would do a search on the net about these letters, you will find that most of these scams originate from nigeria. my uncle, who went to nigeria years ago lost his speedboat when he left it for only 3 minutes in the dock. when he reported this to the local police, he was asked to pay some large amount of cash as payment so the police can retrieve his boat. he never paid because he was afraid the police would do more harm to him than good. he just left the country.

anyway, i conclude that this kind of letter scams from this country is a result of widespread poverty and corruption. but i think there’s a big syndicate behind this (might be good for a story, i wonder why nobody pick this up).  they started as "the fax scam". i got a similar letter about 3 years ago sent to me by snailmail. i got no idea how they got my full name and address. it was signed by a nigerian government official telling me that he would give me $20,000,000. all i have to do was fax him my bank account number, give him $2,000 and go to london so i can pick up some papers (duh!?). i never did anything (hey, i was an advertising guy, and i do concoct direct marketing campaigns so i could never fall for some badly written junk mail hehe). but after a week i got a call from this guy (he really gave me the creeps) and he faxed me suplementary papers proving that he has the money. i told him that im sorry, i am not interested. that was the last time i heard of him. until i checked the internet.

i think i just read an article of a victim who has been beaten and robbed in london. the victim claims he fell for the letter that he got and was promised a large amout of money. only to find himself in a foreign land, beaten black and blue, with no money and passport.

now the letters find their way in every medium possible including the internet. i get all sorts of letters like these coming from all parts of the world. i know they are scam so i just delete them or keep them for my amusement (of all those letters i just deleted, what if some of them were true? hehehe) a friend of mine just came to my mind. he promised to give me funding for my projects because he said some prince in africa will be giving him an inheritance (i just grinned and nodded).

the bottomline is.. dont be greedy. its greed for money that makes us fall for this kind of scams.

cheers -jes



by Jes Aznar | 10 Dec 2005 08:12 | quezon city, Philippines | | Report spam→
thanks bob — wish I could take more credit for this site, but it’s shinji who does the heavy lifting here.
as you pointed out, spam/scam mail is a fact of life on the internet. I get these messages everyday in my regular email — it’s a pain in the ass that yahoo, google, the federal government and the telecoms haven’t been able to stop, I don’t really expect Lightstalkers to come up with a magic solution either.

fundamentally, this site was designed as a free, open resource that allows its members to find each other and communicate with each other. the downside is that it works.
given that, the private message system was added so that members could receive messages from strangers, without giving out their personal email addresses. Your PM inbox is basically a bufferzone to your real email account, so if it’s collecting spam, then it sort of means it works.
beyond that, there’s an array of features like blocking, filtering, personal network/inner circle, private/public switches, etc. If you use those features, you’re probably as well protected as you can get without turning off the computer.

LS remains an all-volunteer, non-profit operation with zero funding, so running security checks on thousands of members isn’t really an option.

Personally, I find the Nigerian 419 letters pretty fascinating. I never have time to read them all, but I really hope someone collects and publishes them in book form one day.

by teru kuwayama | 10 Dec 2005 09:12 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Heads-Up! Mr. Watara recently sent my lovely SPAM to my off-site web-e-mail, not private message in here. Not a big deal.

As to collecting these spam-mails, there are web-sites where folks get into long e-mail dialogues (occasionally includes fax & phone calls too) in order to “teach them a lesson.” In some instances, I’ve read where the spam/scammers actually paid nominal amounts in a “what’s good for the goose” pay-back that has gone to charitable causes.

Do a google-search & you’ll find these sort’ve sites springing up.

Here’s one: http://www.419eater.com

by Didi S. Gilson | 11 Dec 2005 02:12 | Port Stephens, NSW, Australia | | Report spam→
Here’s a good article I read over a year ago.


by Takuya | 11 Dec 2005 07:12 | Tokyo, Japan | | Report spam→
I’m getting gazprom’s money and a much bigger p***s! :) What are you guys getting for this christmas?

On a more serious note: I love this site, just discovered it, but have been reading for the past couple of days and all the people who contribute seem to be very mature and professional. I’d hate to see it ruined by some idiots!

by Kalmár Nagy András | 14 Dec 2005 04:12 | Pécs, Hungary | | Report spam→
I have to tell you in secrecy that I’ve just received a lucrative proposition from Miss Chantal Kone from Abidjan, Cote Ivoire… hehe

Now seriously… it is not annoying yet but what if it’s just a prelude?

by Piotr Slosarski | 19 Dec 2005 14:12 | Warsaw, Poland | | Report spam→
I got one of these letters a couple of years ago. I won the lottery and was to go to Amsterdam (always a pleasure) to pick up the gelt. First I had to pay an attorney there who would represent me and get me the money and take care of all the papers, etc. Wouldn’t it be lovely, thought I? But general patsy that I am, I figured this sounded tot good to be true, and etc.
I told a friend about this and he put me on to a hilarious site, that had me roaring for days. Really roaring. Even pictures of these scammers posing in women’s underwear to prove their sincerity. You’ll love this! www.scamorama.com

by JILL FREEDMAN | 21 Dec 2005 10:12 | | Report spam→
As many here I have also had fantastic offers from Nigeria and Amsterdam, but I remember reading of a chap from the UK who also recieved such a letter. Wise to the case, he replied saying that he would love to help the gentleman, but that due to his religion he as unable. The only solution would be for the Nigerian gentleman to join his church, which involved a payment of some few hundred dollars and a simply ceremony in which, amongst other things the man concerned would have to paint various symbols on his body. That being done and both men thus sharing the same church, he would be in a position to help him. The Nigerian chap agreed, sent the cash, and a photograph of himself, shirtless and painted!

by Simon Anstey | 04 Mar 2006 03:03 | Copenhagen, Denmark | | Report spam→

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Tuomo Björksten, Journalist/Photographer Tuomo Björksten
Tampere , Finland
Allen Sullivan, Photo- and video-journali Allen Sullivan
Photo- and video-journali
Atlanta, Georgia , United States ( ATL )
Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Jenny Lynn Walker, Homo Sapien Jenny Lynn Walker
Homo Sapien
London , United Kingdom
Bill Thomas, Photographer-Videographer Bill Thomas
Nyc , United States
Shinji Kuwayama, Software Engineer Shinji Kuwayama
Software Engineer
Chicago , United States ( ORD )
Dominik, Photographer-Fotografo Dominik
San Diego , United States
Davin Ellicson, Photographer Davin Ellicson
New York , United States
Takuya, Photographer Filmmaker Takuya
Photographer Filmmaker
Helsinki , Finland
Espen Mork Dahl, Photographer Espen Mork Dahl
Oslo , Norway ( AAA )
Jes Aznar, Photojournalist Jes Aznar
(shoot, eat, drink, shoot, live)
Manila , Philippines
teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
New York , United States
Didi S. Gilson , Writer, Photographer Didi S. Gilson
Writer, Photographer
Anna Bay, Nsw , Australia
Kalmár Nagy András, Wonderer Kalmár Nagy András
(Status quo)
Pécs , Hungary
Piotr Slosarski, Piotr Slosarski
Warsaw , Poland
(Freelance Photographer)
New York City , United States
Simon Anstey, Photographer Simon Anstey
Malmö , Sweden ( X )


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