Tracking Spam From "Nett Solutions"

Do you get a lot of spam like this? I do:

Your current website is very strong although we believe your visibility could be greatly improved. We would love to give you a free site review and guide you in how to get more targeted web traffic to your site. Email us today at (gmail account) and we will give you a free analysis. Be sure to include your URL(s) and where you would like us to reach you with results.

The mail is invariably routed through open proxies or bots, and it's pretty darn near anonymous. The only point of contact is some random Gmail account.

It dawned on me after receiving many of these messages, that they are all written very similarly. That suggests to me that it's one person or group sending most of them (to me, anyway). I wasn't quite sure how to track these guys down, so I decided the direct approach was best.

I emailed one of these Gmail accounts, and told them I was interetested. I wanted to learn more. I asked them to contact me. I left no phone number; the only way to get back to me was my email address.

Shortly after, my work number started receiving calls from an unrecognized number. That particular work phone number just routes straight to my voice mail. It's set up to catch people who try to get ahold of me by working the automated phone directory at work. (Meaning, if you're calling me at this number, you probably don't know me.) The calls are logged, the voice mails come to me in email, and I have a record of who called me from where. In this case, the calls were coming from (949) 330-7464.

I didn't return the calls. I waited and figured that eventually, they'd email me. And, they did.

From: Travis Mailhiot [mailto:tmailhiot@nettsolutions.com]
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2008 10:43 AM
To: me
Subject: Getting back to you - Google & Yahoo!

Hello Al,

You requested a free website analysis to determine how we can improve your positioning on Google & Yahoo!.

We have been trying to get in contact with you to make sure we fulfill your request.

Give me a call here in the office ASAP so we can help you. We are in CA on PST and I can be reached until 7pm EST M-F.

I will continue to call, however you have my info and feel free to give me a call.

I look forward to it. Have a great day.

Respectfully,

Travis Mailhiot
Account Executive
Direct - 949-330-7464
Fax - 949-330-7091
Email - tmailhiot@nettsolutions.com
Website - www.nettsolutions.com

The mail came from smtp1.enfrastructure.com [216.174.117.85]. And now, I know who is behind the spam, and I have full headers from them, a complete email message, tying it back to the pseudononymous spam that I've been receiving.

I don't know if Travis Mailhiot is just one of many people at this company trying to build leads through spam, or if this is the modus operandi of the entire company.

However, I do know who to submit to various blacklists, now.

If you're receiving spam like this, start responding. Ask them for more info. Wait and see who responds. There's a good chance the responsible party will be revealed.

(Also, if you're really looking for help with search engine placement and optimization? Look elsewhere. If these guys use spam and proxy abuse as their lead generation process, I can only guess what kind of worst practices their actual search optimization process likely include. I used to help clients with search engine optimization, and I've talked to multiple companies who have learned the hardway that hiring somebody who utilizes bad tactics can result in your website getting banned from Google or Yahoo's index. Not good.)

10/19/2008 Edit: Here's a bit more on Nett Solutions, information found and shared by a fellow spam fighter. Nett Solutions: SEO company pretends special deal with Google. Ripoff Report: Nett Solutions. SEP/SEO Spam: Nett Solutions discussion on Yahoo Answers.

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