There’s a special place in hell for freecycle spammers

January 19 2010
You try to do someone a good turn, and look what happens...

You try to do someone a good turn, and look what happens...

I don’t know why this offends me any more than regular spam, but there’s something particularly low about registering with altruistic giving-stuff-away site Freecycle just to spam everyone who tries to use it.

This mail, or variants thereof, has popped up in my inbox several times today. We’re relocating to Shoreham-by-Sea next week, so are in the middle of clearing out all the stuff we haven’t used in the two years since we moved to Melksham. As you’re no doubt aware, Freecycle is a lovely way to do this.

Every thing I’ve posted gets a quick reply from this lady, ostensibly from someone Esther Simmons. Now it happens I may know an Esther Simmons – at least a Mrs Simmons whose first name I’m not sure of – so it took me a couple of reads to figure out what it is.

It’s a crude, but no doubt highly successful, piece of social engineering spam. Written colloquially to lull you into a false sense of security, full of mea culpa to get you to click on a link for a Freecycle-like community (‘If only I’d known about this other site, I’d never have thrown good stuff away”).

The cunning part is that it tries to allay your fears that the link is going to ask you for personal details. The quote from the email is: “(I seem to recall they are advertiser supported so you may have to stick in an email or zip code or something to see what they have available)” Too people out there won’t even mentally flag this as a potential phishing attack, even though the writer isn’t sure which country she’s in. I mean, zip code? Really? You couldn’t even write a piece of spamming code that was geographically aware when posting to specific local groups? Go back to spam school, you lazy spammers.


I may have underestimated the spammer slightly. The return address ( is a nice touch compared to the usual random letter assortments. Makes it seem safe and respectable doesn’t it?

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