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From Stealing Beer to Spamming

A not particularly large, but notably skanky spam operation appears to be run by a 21-year-old right here in Northeast Ohio, according to an excellent article by Plain Dealer tech writer Chris Seper:

    Every month hundreds of thousands of e-mails chug through the computers at Isolate Networks, offering aphrodisiacs, erotic rendezvous and clean septic tanks.

    The Chardon Internet service provider is to cyberspace what slum lords are to real estate, say colleagues and industry experts. Isolate provides the Internet access that lets scores of unwanted e-mails, known as spam, stream into America’s inboxes, according to court records, anti-spam groups and Internet security companies.

    Now Isolate and its owner, 21-year-old Munson Township resident Dan Ivans Jr., could play another role in the distribution of e-mails selling porn and plumbing. [Cleveland.com]

Microsoft has asked a judge in Seattle to subpoena Ivans’ company records to gain access to the names of spammers who have used his services.

    Companies such as Isolate are a critical gate way for porno graphic, penis-enlargement and other unwanted electronic solicitations that experts say are ruining e-mail as a means of communication. But they may also be key to shutting spam down.

    “I think he probably started out a lot like us – he was strictly Web-hosting and let [a spammer] in, and that opened up the gates,” said John Johnson, a Florida Web designer who worked with spammers, ran his own online porn business and later sent his customers to Ivans. “I don’t think he necessarily went into spamming and went from there. He had a legitimate . . . company going on and saw the dollar signs.”

    Ivans has not responded to numerous requests for interviews in the past few weeks.

And it’s not as though he has exhibited spotless judgment in the past: Ivans served a 33-day jail sentence in early-2002 for robbing a pair of local convenience stores. What’s a few million spam emails for a guy who steals beer from convenience stores?

    For Internet service providers, spamming can be a lucrative but trouble-filled business. A typical user may pay a provider $20 a month for Internet access, some e-mail addresses and a Web site. But spammers will readily fork over $1,000 to $2,000 a month and sometimes much more for the same privileges.

    ….Spammers pay more because they are considered a scourge by most of the Internet community. Mainstream Internet companies will blacklist providers that help spread spammers’ messages.

    ….Johnson said that after continually getting up in the wee hours trying to leap these hurdles, he realized the money wasn’t worth it. He said his contacts in the industry suggested passing his clients on to Ivans. “A couple of [clients] told me they had found this other guy, and I asked who it was,” said Johnson, who said he got out of the business a year and a half ago. “I sent all the other guys who I shut off over to [Ivans]. . . . He had quite a few guys on his lines. Taking on my five guys was nothing.

    “Dan was somehow able to keep his thing going on – or didn’t mind getting up at 2 or 3 a.m.”

Ah the life of a small-time sleaze merchant. All of that by 21 – you can be proud of that boy, dad.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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