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  1. #1
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Amazing how BeFree can develop cross programs for their merchants which suck traffic and revenues from their affiliates. Gator abuses are well known and now major players like Sprint get sucked into side deals to spamm masters like Traffix and their FREEBEE/incent site GroupLotto.com. Are all lead merchants just resorting to this game of feeding the spammers new lists of names.

    "By Daniel Tynan
    (8/20/02)

    Sleeping with spammers

    Would you like spam with that?
    The funny thing about spam is how it gets under people's skin. It starts out as a minor annoyance but quickly turns into an obsession. People even get mad enough to sue over it.

    Take Terry Gillman, a 25-year-old collections agent in Murray, Utah. Last May, he filed suit against Sprint Communications for sending him e-mail that allegedly violates Utah's new antispam statute. Among other charges, Gillman alleges that the e-mail lacked the required contact information and failed to use "ADV:" in the subject line.

    Well, I saw a copy of the offending message, and you know what? Sprint didn't send it. The message came from GroupLotto, a third-party marketing group that Sprint hired to hawk its long-distance service. Whether that lets Sprint off the hook for breaking the statute is a question for the judge. What I wanted to know was, who is GroupLotto and why did Sprint hire them? So I decided to do a little digging. What I unearthed isn't pretty.

    You play, you pay
    Dial up GroupLotto's home page, and you'll see a sign-up sheet for Sprint Long Distance service. You'll also get the chance to enter a free lottery for a $10 million prize. The catch? GroupLotto takes the information that it collects from the sweepstakes (your name, e-mail address, street address, and phone and social security numbers) and uses it to send you promotional offers for diploma mills, online casinos, work-at-home schemes, and the rest of the usual spam set.

    GroupLotto's parent company, Traffix, a marketing firm in Pearl River, New York, operates several similar sites. For example, its Justatip.com lets you send e-mail telling people that they have B.O., among other things, without revealing your identity, and its Ratensee.com lets you conduct anonymous surveys of your friends. In each case, Traffix takes your information and adds it to a database of nearly 50 million "opt-in" addresses. Traffix assumes that by entering your e-mail address, you've opted to be on its list. This so-called opt-in scheme is bad enough; it's doubtful that anyone who signs up at these sites really wants to get junk mail. But Gillman's attorney, Denver Snuffer, says that his client never signed up with Traffix in the first place. I found several newsgroup posts from other people who said that they've received mail from Traffix without having given their consent.

    Traffix jammed
    Wait, it gets worse. Until recently, Traffix got much of its revenue by promoting the Psychic Readers Network (you know--Miss Cleo), a phone-based "entertainment" service currently under investigation for fraud by the FTC and several states, including New York, Illinois, and Missouri. According to the New York State Consumer Protection Bureau, Traffix used e-mail addresses harvested from GroupLotto to spam for Miss Cleo, then sold the contact information for Miss Cleo's callers. Last September, New York charged Traffix with 112 counts of violating its "do not call" telemarketing laws in connection with Miss Cleo and fined the company $244,000.

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) also has unkind things to say about Traffix. The BBB has processed nearly three dozen complaints about the company in the past three years, ranging from deceptive advertising to false phone charges. And those are just the highlights--I won't even go into the lawsuits that people have filed.

    Laughing last
    But Traffix's past has come back to haunt it. The company's most recent SEC filing notes that many ISPs now block all mail coming from its domains, thus cutting into its revenues. The document also notes how antispam statutes such as Utah's could have a negative impact on its business. (With their close ties to Miss Cleo, don't you think they would have seen this coming?)

    All of this begs the question: What's a $26 billion telecommunications giant like Sprint doing in bed with a company like Traffix? I called Sprint to ask, but no one there would talk to me because of the litigation in Utah, even though Traffix is not a party to that case--yet.

    But I don't plan to give up asking. I guess I'm a little obsessed with spam myself."

    Shame Shame Shame.

    WebMaster Mike
    WWW.EcomCity.com/ims.htm

  2. #2
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    How is it that Be Free has anything to do with this Sprint deal?

  3. #3
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    quote:
    Originally posted by fowler:
    How is it that Be Free has anything to do with this Sprint deal?


    BeFree's philosphy - to quote Steven Pike -"they aren't doing anything illegal".

    {

    When the shoe fits the foot is forgotten
    When the belt fits the belly is forgotten
    When the heart is right "for" and "against" are forgotten. - Chuang Tzu

  4. #4
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    They manage Sprint's affiliate program

    WebMaster Mike
    WWW.EcomCity.com/ims.htm

  5. #5
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    First of all Mike, I'm totally surprised that you think unethical behavior from Sprint is something to be surprised at.

    Second, ref Group Lotto - as if the odds weren't bad enough with lottos, a lotto forum site I vist has a recent post by a woman who "won" $2500 with their lotto - they sent her an email saying so. No money. She contacted the FCC, they said they'll "file with other complaints about the company".

    And ref your fax.com judgement post from recently: there's a new one, worth over a *trillion* dollars potentially.

    No, nobody's gonna pay out that much but with any luck it'll drive them out of business.

  6. #6
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    So Sprint hires grouplotto who is a spammer.

    Maybe I'm missing something but I still don't see how this has anything to do with Be Free.

    OK, so Sprint's a Be Free customer. Guilt by association?

  7. #7
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    did Sprint actually 'hire' them, or are they just a lower-life version of all of us? (read: affiliates who's method is to spam)

    Tick

  8. #8
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    Mike,

    I don't see the point of your post. What does their affiliate program have anything to do with the article above?

    -Holly

    quote:
    Originally posted by EcomCity.com:
    They manage Sprint's affiliate program

    WebMaster Mike
    http://WWW.EcomCity.com/ims.htm

  9. #9
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    If Group Lotto is an affiliate of Sprint (is a possibility), and they are are spamming for Sprint...then it has plenty to do with BeFree. If one of our Shareasale affiliates spammed about our services wouldn't myself and shareasale have some responsiblity to put a stop to it?

    TH Media-Web Solutions For The Small Business
    Check Out The TH Media Affiliate Program

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thanks THmedia for advising the group why BeFree/Valueclick runs a side network for professional spammers. Sprint operates their affiliate program thru BeFree. Someone at BeFree/ValueClick or an outside professional affiliate management company (AKA -Spamm List Brokers Union)pimping/handling the Gator -iWon -FreeLottos -GroupLotto -eBates -CyberRebates ..etc..etc.. ADnausium.com accounts gets Sprint to fork over a huge fee to a hybred deal. Traffix blasts out 1 billion spamms for Sprint using GroupLotto as the culpret and collects commissions on those not offended enough to click through on the nice looking spamm.

    Follow the money trail behind these "lead" merchants and you'll find a nest of spam enablers. The AM at Sprint just looks at the hit counters and pats him/herself on the back for finding another way to spend 50,000.00 with no lasting ROI of their investors bucks. I'm sure Worldcom and Martha Stewart have been contacted by the same agent for "Spamm List Brokers Union" members to run a last ditch campaign.

    WebMaster Mike

  11. #11
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    quote:
    Thanks THmedia for advising the group why BeFree/Valueclick runs a side network for professional spammers.


    With respect, THmedia advised us how Be Free may be getting used to track sales through an affiliate who gets traffic generated by spam. It may be happening, but every merchant and ever affiliate provider probably has this happening. Should they work to stamp that out? Sure.

    You're saying that Be Free is responsible for brokering the whole deal. You know this how?

    THmedia, are you saying this too?

  12. #12
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    Mike,

    Demonstrate that GroupLotto is an affiliate of Sprint, and you might have a point. But I've looked at their site and can't find any Be Free link anywhere. So I fail to see how your post has any relevance.

    -Holly

    quote:
    Originally posted by EcomCity.com:
    Thanks THmedia for advising the group why BeFree/Valueclick runs a side network for professional spammers. Sprint operates their affiliate program thru BeFree. Someone at BeFree/ValueClick or an outside professional affiliate management company (AKA -Spamm List Brokers Union)pimping/handling the Gator -iWon -FreeLottos -GroupLotto -eBates -CyberRebates ..etc..etc.. ADnausium.com accounts gets Sprint to fork over a huge fee to a hybred deal.

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