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A friend of mine is having problems with large numbers of "Your EMail was Undeliverable" type messages coming into his inbox.

The original messages contain a 'Please Send Money' scam and were not sent from my friends account, someone is just spoofing the 'From' address.

The problem is that the SPAM-bot is sending out a massive numebr of emails but many are to accounts that so not exist - hence the undeliverable errors. He is using Outlook Web Access (provided by his ISP) and does not have the ability to mark messages are Junk or to create a Rule that will scan the body of the email (only the subject and sender). I have been able to create some basic rules to move many of the messages to the Deleted Items folder (based on a common subject) but I'm worried about being too generic in case I end up deleting genuine messages.

How can I stop these messages from filling up his Inbox/Deleted Items..?

Thanks in Advance

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Just something to consider: if the ISP isn't doing some proper spam filtering, you might want another provider for your email. If you subscribe your friend for a GMail account, he'd still have a web interface plus POP3/IMAP access and he can just forget about his ISP-provided mail account.

I hate it too, though. I've had a CompuServe account since 1993 and around 1999/2000 I started having some serious spam problems with that account. Fortunately, I've always had multiple mail accounts so I avoided my CompuServe account, which would just end up being flooded. I added some rules to this account to just forward emails from people on my whitelist to my new account and all other emails were just trashed. (I did check their senders and titles before trashing them, though.)

I stopped using Compuserve in 2005. I wasn't receiving any more important emails on that account and even stopped checking it for new emails. It was all spam anyways and Compuserve didn't bother to do something about it so I had no use for it.

Complain to the ISP, telling them to take action against this flood of spam. They should be able to recognize it and thus block it even before it reaches your mailbox. Or just forget that mailbox and use GMail instead, adding rules to your old mailbox to just forward any important messages to the new account.


For businesses, there's also the Google Postini services which aren't free but might be useful for people who run their own business with their own domain name. Or people who can't switch provider.

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Yahoo and Hotmail and other mail providers also exist, but I like the GMail spam filters. They work real well and I have not much experience with the other ones... –  Wim ten Brink Sep 7 '09 at 8:40
    
The problem is that this is affecting my friends work Inbox which is hosted by BT Business so using a different address is not really an option for him. I'll compose an email for him to forward to BT and see where that gets him - I'm guessing not very far (not a high opinion of BT here!) –  DilbertDave Sep 7 '09 at 9:38
    
Aww. A business mailbox. Still, Google does offer special functionality for businesses. The Postibi services at google.com/postini/… might be useful here. –  Wim ten Brink Sep 7 '09 at 11:28
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Well, you can't :/

This phenomenon is called "backscatter" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backscatter%5F%28e-mail%29 ) and it comes in waves (at least at my server). There are times the spammers are using your friends E-Mail address as From:-address and the receiving servers send "no account here with that name" mails because the spammers used wrong To:-addresses. As these undeliverable-messages are valid and originate from various servers (they just get sent to the wrong address, which is your friends') they come in different wording and don't have common attributes other than your friend's address. As your friend would (I guess) like to still receive a notification when his mails don't get to the recipient you have no chance to filter only the spam-related notices...

SPF, well configured servers and other sender-validation schemes should take care of these things in a long run but for now we have to live with these messages...

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Backscatter SPAM (as the previous poster pointed out) is very difficult to stop and pretty much the only solution that will work is Gateway level SPAM filtering. These basically block or at least quarantine the emails before it reaches your email server/mail box.

Even with these, the results may not be 100%, but you will definitely get some relief.

There are free solutions like SAFENTRIX if cost is an issue.

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