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Country Ban

Blocking SMTP by Country of Origin
  (+3, -4)
(+3, -4)
  [vote for,
against]

This idea may sound extreme, but I think it may be appropriate.

There is an extremely large amount of spam coming from one particular country. In addition, this spam is not designed to get you to buy something, or to come see their web site, or even for an adult site, but rather, is being intentionally used for criminal fraud.

These criminals scan the web harvesting E-MAIL addresses, and then send out hugh quantities of spam to defraud unknowing victims. These letters speak of large sums of unclaimed money, and offer to give you a share if you help them.

The stories vary, but the results are the same. They talk you out of whatever they can get, and then use the information you gave them to drain you bank accounts dry and steal you identity. In some cases, people have been conned into traveling there and held against their will. The government of this country allows this, and is reported to profit from this large criminal enterprise, indeed, some of the latest political instability there has been blamed on fighting over how to split-up the proceeds of this criminal activity! (along with another local source of revenue, the heroin trade!)

Worse yet, some of the neighboring poor countries, seeing the success of this new source of national revenue, are now starting to copy it!

On a personal note, I receive large quantities of this spam from these folks on a daily basis, often more than the rest of the spam put together!

My idea is this - the large ISPs block all SMTP traffic originating from this country (i.e. - something like RTBL, but instead of an IP range, you block the country!) HTTP and other protocols would still be allowed to pass unharmed. Block removed only when the country's government shows it is willing to act like a responsible member of the Internet community.

aspdesigner, Mar 15 2002

FBI Fraud Alert http://www.fbi.gov/...ct/fo/mb/alerts.htm
see "419" for some information on this scam [aspdesigner, Mar 15 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

The Big Con http://www.amazon.c...85495382/halfbakery
The seminal work on classic big cons, that is, fraud that involves acting out an elaborate story over a long period of time, often involving multiple players. [jutta, Mar 16 2002]

CIA World Factbook: Nigeria http://www.cia.gov/...ctbook/geos/ni.html
Democracy in 1999. Petroleum-based economy, GDP $117 billion, high corruption; 126 million people, 50% muslim, 40% christian, 1 in 20 adults has AIDS, literacy 50%, poverty 45%, transport route for heroin from Asia, cocaine from South America, 100,000 internet users. [jutta, Mar 16 2002]

I crave your distinguished indulgence http://www.salon.co...419scams/print.html
Literature criticism applied to the spam. [jutta, Mar 16 2002]

The 419 Coalition http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/
The motherlode of Nigerian Letter Scam stories, very interested in putting pressure on the Nigerian government to stop the scams. The recent news have some stories of arrests of con men in Nigeria, so it's not "nothing" that's being done. [jutta, Mar 16 2002]

Evidence Sub-page http://home.rica.ne...19coal/nigovinv.htm
Proof of Government Involvement [aspdesigner, Mar 16 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

More Evidence http://home.rica.ne...419coal/respons.htm
Response to Government Denials, reference to hardcopy evidence [aspdesigner, Mar 16 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

University Of Pennsylvania Computer Center http://www.upenn.ed...sories/419scam.html
government protection, involvement & complicity referenced, is 3rd-4th largest source of revenue for the Nigerian economy. [aspdesigner, Mar 16 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Danger! Do not go there! http://travel.state.gov/nigeria.html
State Dept. Travel warning, scary stuff [aspdesigner, Mar 16 2002, last modified Oct 17 2004]

I'm my father's keeper. http://thespamlette...tml?search=Nigerian
J.Land's correspondence with the HON. RAYMOND ETIEBET(DR). [reensure, Mar 16 2002]

[link]






       Yeah, don't worry, I don't think you can lible a country.
dare99, Mar 16 2002
  

       Sorry about that. The country is Nigeria.
aspdesigner, Mar 16 2002
  

       The problem being that while it's called the 'Nigerian Bank Scam', it's unlikely that the spam is actually originating from Nigeria.   

       On the other hand, I'd very much like to block Korea. I get tons of non-English crap from Korea...
StarChaser, Mar 16 2002
  

       The principle underlying the con is known as the "Spanish Prisoner" and is quite old and in no way original to Nigeria. Even if it were, the suggestion that fraud is somehow indigenous to one particular country and could be curtailed by measures applied to this country is incredibly stupid.   

       I don't think you'd do this with any country you actually know; once people see places close-up they usually realize how diverse their inhabitants are.   

       There is no widespread notion of "country of origin" within SMTP, something many people see as a huge advantage of Internet protocols in general. It would be much easier to detect texts talking about bank transfers and the government of a remote country and asking for the recipient's help than to block "email originating from place X." If a domain name ending in .ng becomes an obstacle, it is just as easy to send the message from somewhere else.
jutta, Mar 16 2002
  

       "I see little difference in doing something similar to an entire nation of people because of the actions of a small group of criminals." ([UnaBubba])
"Rant, punish the alleged country of some con-men who do X." ([jutta], who subsequently edited her annotation)
  

       Rather presumes that the government itself is not involved, no? And as this is the underlying assumption of the idea (albeit not proven), I suggest it should stand on that merit.   

       There are, after all, precedents:
Germany
Yugoslavia
Afghanistan
Cuba
Libya
North Korea
North Vietnam
etc...
phoenix, Mar 16 2002
  

       I don't think that's the underlying assumption, beyond "the Nigerian government should be better at finding and punishing the people who commit e-mail fraud."
jutta, Mar 16 2002
  

       "The government of this country allows this, and is reported to profit from this large criminal enterprise, indeed, some of the latest political instability there has been blamed on fighting over how to split-up the proceeds of this criminal activity! (along with another local source of revenue, the heroin trade!)"
  

       I rest my case. Do as you see fit. Your honor.
phoenix, Mar 16 2002
  

       Hm, you're right. Wonder why I didn't see that?   

       Can we get some citations for this? Regardless of what the legal situation is, I don't like negative blanket allegations without source.   

       Note that Nigeria's form of government changed (again..) in 1999.
jutta, Mar 16 2002
  

       Understand that I don't accept the allegation, only that it makes the idea an idea and consistent with governmental policies of the past.   

       [aspdesigner] is simply proposing a new manner in which a government can impose political pressure (through the use of sanctions) on another nation to achieve its own goals.   

       Without the implication that the foreign government was involved, I would label it a rant.
phoenix, Mar 16 2002
  

       That would be big ISPs imposing sanctions, not another government, right?
jutta, Mar 16 2002
  

       Well, government can say "Don't sell {x} (say Iraq) those {y} (say missile components)" or "Don't import {x}'s (say Cuba's) {y} (say cigars)". I see it as more or less the same thing. Yes, the ISPs would be the point of regulation I suppose. With oversight by the government.
phoenix, Mar 16 2002
  

       Wow, I turn my back, and look at all the comments!   

       StarChaser, most of the activity is indeed based in this country, although some neighboring countries are trying to copy it, such as the tiny country of Togo. I agree with your Korea assessment, I have the same problem with China myself!   

       phoenix is correct that this is not a small group of con men in an otherwise respectable country, but that there is significant government involvement in a large enterpise. I have also read reports of a number people who were conned into traveling there being kidnapped and/or murdered upon their arrival into the country.   

       I will track down more sources for you.   

       With regards to implementation, I was considering filtering being done by the large ISPs that provide egress fro this country. I am not sure whether US government assistance would be appropriate or not.   

       I also thought that if the mean for doing this was established, it might prove useful in the future with other countries, say to help protect against cyber-warfare originating from a country we're at war with?
aspdesigner, Mar 16 2002
  

       The times I've gotten it, <Six, in the last week.> none of them were from Nigeria, or at least not directly. Several were from Hotmail accounts, the others from domains I didn't recognize <and didn't bother to investigate, aside from forwarding the message to the FBI>, but none of them were '.ng'.   

       On the other hand, I get a lot of Korean spam, from .kr domains, in Korean. The bit of it I can decipher <since Korean characters don't translate well through my email system> is on the class of 'Make money quick' or 'see my big tits'.
StarChaser, Mar 16 2002
  

       Long live the broad brush!! Down with the axis of spam!!
gastronaut, Mar 16 2002
  

       Damn, StarChaser, you're lucky - I get more than that in a DAY! I would expect that these folks have learned the same origin-hiding tricks as other spammers. That is why I suggest filtering it at the egress points.   

       I have found a few of the links I promised, more to follow. This government has long been known to conduct PR campaigns and a few "token" arrests to deny it's involvement. The two "evidence" pages are sub-pages of the coalition web site, and provide specific evidence of direct government involvement. The Penn link also discusses the origin issue, as well as government involvement, and indicates that this scam "is estimated to be the third or fourth largest source of revenue for the Nigerian economy." The State Dept. Travel Warning is interesting reading, and talks about such nice stuff as violent crime commited by people in police and military uniforms, kidnapping for ransom, violent civil unrest, roadblock robberies, armed robbery on the road from the airport, harrassment and shakedown of US citizens at checkpoints and by government officials, and other such niceties.
aspdesigner, Mar 16 2002
  

       Most of my spam comes from the US and is based on all kinds of bizarre local reasons. It appears that Americans are very insecure about the size and performance of their "John Thomas" and feel their country need both chemical enchancement and acres of pornography to deal with this problem.   

       It is amazing what an accurate picture of a country you can build up from spam ...
Aristotle, Mar 16 2002
  

       and the award for the only laugh of the evening goes to - opens gold colo(u)red envelope - [rustle rustle] and the award goes to - Aristotle.
po, Mar 16 2002
  

       Why not just block all SMTP traffic not coming from your domain? Is there any reason to have an open relay?
bookworm, Mar 16 2002
  

       I was hoping it was a ban on Country Music
thumbwax, Mar 17 2002
  

       I hereby propose a ban on Country "Music"
thumbwax, Mar 17 2002
  

       My brother has a bumper sticker that came with his car reading 'Stop inbreeding, ban country music'. <Has several mutant smiley faces on it>   

       Bristolz and gastronaut; I don't speak Korean. I can't read Korean. My email client renders Korean as a scramble of random non-letter symbols from the font I use. Sending me email in Korean is a pointless waste of electrons. All of the mail I've gotten from them that has had a URL or any English at all has been spam. So I wouldn't particularly miss Korea on the net.   

       Yes, I'm aware that other people would want to get mail from them. Doesn't mean I would miss it. China, too, for the same reason.
StarChaser, Mar 17 2002
  

       I would have thought that the United States likely produces more spam than any other country. So, hey, let's block the US.   

       Hands off the country music, man. I heard George Jones singin' "He Stopped Lovin' Her Today" for the first time in a while last week, and bawled for 20 minutes.
waugsqueke, Mar 18 2002
  

       Bleah. I hate country music.   

       A RBL would not be a bad idea. If they're good boys, they'll be able to get out of it. If they don't care about the spam, then they'll stay in. Seems reasonable to me.
StarChaser, Mar 18 2002
  

       I've got to fishbone this for two reasons. Firstly, blanket policies hurt the innocent just as much as the guilty. Secondly, the particular scam that you mention in your link, seems like a rather good way of weeding the stupid and greedy out of the gene pool and thirdly...doh!
DrBob, Mar 18 2002
  

       Ridiculous, the users from the specific countries will have loads of trouble to access specific things on the web. It already happens on mIRC for spam bots.
NeoPiter, Jul 21 2004
  

       http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/01/commtouch_spam_survey/   

       According to this survey, 73.58 percent of the sites referenced in SPAM are hosted in China, and 55.69% of the SPAM is generated in the US. Should we block both countries? That'll make the Internet a little boring, I think.   

       It's very easy to point out some "evil" entity, as long as one's not involved. This case is similar to anti-drug actions by USA's government: they "certify" countries that are trying to stop drugs and disapprove the ones that, according to them, are doing nothing. But USA, the biggest consumer, where most of the traffic takes place, has never been in the list, right?
nelovishk, Jul 24 2004
  
      
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