I just got the strangest email. I think I’m going to reproduce it here in full.
Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 16:32:05 -0700 (PDT)
From: Julie Winfield <beverlybimbo at yahoo dot com>
Subject: Hi Justin
You don’t know me, but I live by you and I would like to warn you that I am adding you to this site as a bad neighbor. I am tired of putting up with your crap.
Are you ok with that? No? Well then too bad!!
Wow. I. Have. No. Words.
Here’s the funny part: it doesn’t appear that “Rotten Neighbor” currently even covers San Francisco. I entered my zip code and there were 3 listings, none me. A quick Google search for Julie Winfield returns a dermatologist in Mill Valley.
On the other hand, a quick Google search for the first part of her email address, beverlybimbo, confirms that she lives in Los Angeles (based on a Craigslist posting “Looking for a Google Maps API expert”).
Looking for a Google Maps API expert
Reply to: beverlybimbo at yahoo dot com
Date: 2007-08-09, 10:55AM PDT
* Location: Los Angeles
That’s a curious coincidence, considering Rotten Neighbor is essentially a Google Maps app.
Based on the time I got the email (4:32pm) I wonder if the LA listing created at 4:28 is the one intended for my doppelganger:
Vanowen St. between Mason and Desoto. What a horrible place. Many gang members or wannabees The north side of Vanowen is lined with apartment buildings. There is absolutely no parking. Somebody was shot and killed on Kelvin Ave. Cars are stolen. Car windows are broken just for the fun of it. Helicopters hover around at least once a week. It’s filled with people who don’t care about the cleanlines of their surroundings. People walk their dogs and don’t pick after them. Horrible place. Looking over my referrer log from 4pm today (or for hits to my about page—the most obvious place someone would get my email address) didn’t turn up any smoking guns. I’ll be curious to see how/if she responds to my reply.
Don’t worry Justin. Soon everybody will know what kind of neighbor you actually are!
What? The? Fuck?
So at this point I started think that she’s working for Rotten Neighbor, in an attempt to bait bloggers into linking to their site (as terrie mentions in the comments). Great it worked. So I’ve removed the hyperlink to Rotten Neighbor above (which I’d already relnofollowed), and I’ve removed any attempt to obfuscate Julie Winfield’s email address. But wait, it gets better…
Brant Walker brantw2 at cox dot net [Email address not functional]
San Diego, California 92101
And who is this Brant Walker? Apparently a recent graduate of Platt College in San Diego. A quick scan of his web portfolio turns up a parody site called Nicotine Island. Hmm, where have I seen Nicotine Island before? Oh yeah, a post by one beverlybimbo in a Yahoo Groups for Smoking and Tobacco Hobbies.
I think I can reconstruct what happened here. Brant Walker, using the fake identity Julie Winfield, is trying to drive traffic to his Rotten Neighbors site. He checks out the Alexa Movers & Shakers list and discovers my site listed number 4 because I got dugg last week.
He follows Alexa’s link to my homepage and clicks to my about page, grabs my email address, and sends me the email at the top. How am I doing so far? Let’s take a look back at my referrer log entries from just before 4:30pm yesterday (when I got the email), the ones that I previously thought held no clues.
*************************** 1. row *************************** request_id: 2051980 request_url: http://justinsomnia.org/ request_referrer: http://www.alexa.com/site/ds/movers_shakers?lang=en request_date: 2007-08-30 16:24:52 request_user_agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:220.127.116.11) Gecko/20070725 Firefox/18.104.22.168 request_ip: 22.214.171.124 request_hostname: 126.96.36.199.ptr.us.xo.net *************************** 2. row *************************** request_id: 2051989 request_url: http://justinsomnia.org/about/ request_referrer: http://justinsomnia.org/ request_date: 2007-08-30 16:27:54 request_user_agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:188.8.131.52) Gecko/20070725 Firefox/184.108.40.206 request_ip: 220.127.116.11 request_hostname: 18.104.22.168.ptr.us.xo.net
Of course that could just be anybody who happened upon the Alexa list and clicked over to my site, right? Well Brant, meet my smoking gun. In the headers of the email you sent me, pretending to be Julie, it listed your IP address:
Received: from [22.214.171.124] by web38510.mail.mud.yahoo.com via HTTP; Thu, 30 Aug 2007 16:32:05 PDT
How’d I do? Didn’t you even bother to skim Search Engine Marketeers are the new script kiddies? Because I know you visited the page last Friday, August 24th at 8pm. Perhaps I should retitle this post Search Engine Marketeers are the new social engineers.