Ask Professor Puzzler
Do you have a question you would like to ask Professor Puzzler? Click here to ask your question!
I have been getting undeliverable emails sent back to me to email addresses that I do not recognize. In the last three days I have received emails from two individuals asking me if I was a spammer. Can you please tell me what the heck is going on??????
Imagine 3 people A, B, and C. A knows B, and B knows C, but A and C do not know each other. In this scenario, B has both A's and C's email addresses stored on his computer. Now person B gets a virus on his computer, and the virus creates an email message, randomly grabs two email addresses, puts one of them (A) into the "from" line, and the other (C) in the "to" line, and sends the email off.
Now person C gets an email from A, a person he doesn't know, and assumes A is a spammer. He sends a nasty email to A saying "are you a spammer?" That answers the second part of your question. To answer the first part, imagine that person C has changed his email address, so the email address the virus sends to is invalid. So what happens? Since the virus has forged A into the "From" line, it is A who gets the "delivery failure" notifications, even though he never sent out an email. Is there anything you can do about it? Not a thing. Sorry.
Somebody, maybe more than one somebody, is faking my email address and sending out potentially illegal spam. You said to grin and bear it when somebody forges your email address but I don't want the authorities knocking at my door over this. Is there any new technology to help me out?
Remember that every email has a path it travels, which can be found by looking at the "options" for the email. For example, the email you sent me has the following path: [Email information snipped] Now, that may look like a lot of garbage to you (it certainly does to me) but the fact is, once the email leaves the forger's computer, he has no control over that information. So the "authorities" could always tell whether or not this really came from you. You only have something to worry about if you really are the sender.