Mark Hostetler, Austrian spammer16 Jun 2006
(This is a blog post about an Austrian spammer. The reason I did not put anything more offensive in this post’s title, is because there is another Mark Hostetler, a Florida-based Wildlife Ecology professor. He’s probably a nice guy. I’m talking about a scumbag who lives in Vienna)
I was just looking at today’s catch by my Akismet comment spam filter. BTW: the existence of spam filters like Akismet and Spam Karma is the only reason blogs can still be interactive. I already have more than 2600 detected spam comments since I migrated to WordPress: that’s 2600 in 3 months or 30 a day on average. Since it’s an accelerating thing, I guess I must be at 100 spams per day now.
I noticed a lot of .be domain names, which seemed kind of new to me:
Are there really Belgian spammers, with Belgian addresses that you actually could go to and throw bricks through the window? Not really. The first traces went to Poland:
A Mr Pikod Darek from Poznan (Poland) has registered a load of .be domains on Dec 7th, 2005 through EuroDNS. The DNS registration was last updated on May 29th, 2006, probably because they were ready to start spamming then. All these .be sites are hosted at theplanet.com with 70.87.15.* IP addresses. I doubt Pikod hired multiple dedicated servers himself, he probably just bought a minimal shared hosting from a reseller. Why minimal? Because the only thing the .be domain does is forward you to an URL like
http://www.find.fm/?aid=4077. Who is behind this ‘search engine you trust’? Enter Hostetler!
Austrian spam mob
Find.fm looks like an old style web directory: you can search for products you want to buy. The results are presented in a Google-like formatting, and all links go through a domain peakc.com. The latter is owned by a Stefan Meyer from Salzburg, Austria, and the first, as you might suspect, by Mark Hostetler, Rudigergasse 4, 1050 Vienna, Austria. Stefan Meyer is a too common name in Gemran to find anything specific about the guy, but Mark was easier to track down. Rojisan outs him as the owner of Cashwebsearch.com / Peakclick.com. So we can easily suppose that he is in fact also the one behind peakc.com . He even has a Peakclick GmbH company that boasts: “We have the highest bids in the Pay-Per-Click industry; we aggregate bids from twelve paid search partners to provide you with the highest revenue potential possible.” They’ve been doing that since October 2005. One of the affiliates claims that according to the console interface some webmasters earn up to $2000 per day with (of course, that is something you *would* tell them). Peakclick also got mentioned in the recent Guardian’s quest for a spammer and in a Spamhuntress post.
Mark can answer all other questions via phone:+43-1-198.465.48.84 or ICQ: 241091072. Although, his social skills apparently leave something to be desired:
I have approached Mr Hostetler via e-mail and he has denied instigating the spamming of our guestbook, despite all links leading to his www.find.fm site. He additionally told me that, as he is in Austria, there is nothing I can do about it anyway. He has also denied knowledge of the .pl domain names. While he has quite rightly pointed out that none of the spam actually says www.find.fm, each of the links posted over the past two months have taken the browser to that site. Throughout our correspondance today, I have found his tone to be unhelpful, scathing and dismissive, hence I do not believe that he will cease this activity. During this time, after I had requested that Witchgrove not receive such spam, appealed to his better nature and explained that I was taking legal advice, another entry appeared in the guestbook.
from witchgrove.org guestbook administrator
Any lawyers out there that have some feedback on his “as he is in Austria, there is nothing I can do about it” ? Is Austria the new Russia?