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I am quite new in setting up e-mail server on linux - I barely set up the whole think to get it working and connected it with my domain and php script which uses PHPMailer 5.2.1. In my setting I am using smtp server from my web provider (domain) and all e-mail which are not defined (trash) are sent on one simple address like I have address So when somebody will send email to it will be forwarded again to even in case of failure.

I am receiving emails like:

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

Sorry, no mailbox here by that name. (#5.1.1)

--- Below this line is a copy of the message.

Return-Path: <>
Received: (qmail 49156 invoked from network); 25 Jun 2012 07:34:57 -0300
Received: from unknown (HELO (
  by with SMTP; 25 Jun 2012 07:34:57 -0300
Message-Id: <20120625034039.B45C12DCC3B13A22F261@GANDERTO-015445>
From: Ezra Whitehead <>
To: toa <>
Reply-To: Jamey Mcconnell <>
Subject: Welcome toa
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Visit our shop


As you can see there is line From: Ezra Whitehead <> I am sure I did not send this email from my with some Davis8FB name and some russian page. This is just one of many and only NOT-delivered e-mails - there can be much more which has been sent successfully! What do I have wrong in my settings? How can I make it right? What should I do to prevent these messages to send? Where should I look? Thank you all.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is known as backscatter spam which is where the spammer forges the From: or Return-Path: so that if a spam email bounces, it just becomes another opportunity to spam someone else.

You may notice that the To: address matches the same pattern as the From: address.

Unless you are running this mail server from your home ADSL connection, the original spam did not come from you.

The only thing you can do about these is detect them as spam and delete them. Spamassassin would be a good place to start.

If you feel up to it, you could contact the owners of the mail server that is sending the backscatter because that's frowned upon.

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So with Spamassassin I can not block them just delete them before they came as return path to me, right? Spam will still send ... – Dukla Jun 28 '12 at 9:40
You have plenty of options with Spamassassin, one of which is deleting emails like this one. You could also put them in a different mailbox or forward them to a different server. You can also use the results from Spamassassin to feed an IP block list. – Ladadadada Jun 28 '12 at 9:52
OK I will try to learn this Spamassassin thing and hope it helps :) Thank you. – Dukla Jun 28 '12 at 10:05

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