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We Caught Our First Scammer

One of Throttle’s most intriguing features — detecting when someone sells your email address — just proved itself in a big way.

Alex Obenauer
Jan 7, 2016 · 3 min read

We’ve been waiting on the edges of our seats. We even set up an email alert so we’d all get pinged when it happened. And it finally happened.

One of our Throttle users signed up for an account on a website, and that website proceeded to sell their email address to spammers. After it triggered the alert, we subscribed to it ourselves, to see if it was legit (or rather, illegit). Sure enough, they sold ours too, and we got to gather some data.

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The stats as seen in Throttle’s Access Control panel

The number of messages received as a result is in the thousands — 5,167 messages from 3,784 senders in 128 days — that’s 40 messages per day. Update: As of 4:30 pm the day I published this, the account has already received 173 messages today alone. The volume is growing exponentially.

What would have been a huge issue plaguing this person’s inbox for years to come, until he gave up and got a new email address, was solved with the click of one single button.

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“Revoke Access” — your get out of jail free card.

Luckily for this person, they used a Throttle generated address to sign up for the website. Thousands of emails are now safely kept away from his inbox. His email address is safely kept away from the scammers. And clicking “Revoke Access” shuts it all down instantly — no one that bought, or ever will buy, his email address will be able to send him email.

What about the site? It’s a website that helps you search public records on a person, and it requires your email address to sign up. From there, they apparently then sell your email address off to folks with poor intentions.

What about the 5k+ emails? Many of them advertise services that I’m pretty sure are illegal. But most of them are designed to trick receivers into thinking they are real emails from AT&T, FedEx, Amazon, and other big companies many likely have been customers of at one point. They’re classic “phishing” emails, looking to trick receivers into giving up personal details or sending money. In Throttle, it’s easy to spot, because received messages also show their “source” — what website the user signed up on to receive that message. The mismatch is obvious, the signup didn’t happen on Amazon, so the message is illegitimate. This pairing of data has never been possible until now, thanks to Throttle.

We’ll continue to keep you posted on our search for these kinds of scams. In the meantime, sign up for anything using Throttle without fear; it’ll help us find and stop more of these scams for Throttle users like you! And you won’t have to worry about any damage to your inbox, Throttle has you covered.

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