A rather dodgy ‘Contact Form Marketing’ email

This is a bit different to the emails I normally look at in regard in to dodgy SEO companies.

It came in via the contact form on my site and is offering a VERY dodgy system of promoting/advertising/marketing things via spamming contact forms.

The below was supposedly sent by a ‘Sasha’ (I got a last name but I’m not publishing it as I care about privacy). The email address, a gmail one, also seemed to belong to Sasha. There was a phone number as well. Putting the number into Google threw up up a few rather dodgy looking social media accounts in a variety of equally iffy looking names!

This was the contents of the email:

Good morning, I was just taking a look at your site and filled out your “contact us” form. The contact page on your site sends you messages like this to your email account which is why you’re reading my message at this moment correct? This is half the battle with any kind of online ad, getting people to actually READ your ad and this is exactly what you’re doing now! If you have something you would like to promote to thousands of websites via their contact forms in the U.S. or anywhere in the world let me know, I can even focus on particular niches and my charges are very reasonable. Write an email to: [email removed for privacy but it was completely different gmail one to “Sasha’s” email address – odd.]

This rang my ‘this seems amazingly dodgy’ bells, so I just had to reply!

Hi Sasha,

That sounds interesting. Can you explain more about what you do?

What company do you work for and where are you located?

Thanks,

James

And soon I got this reply, this time from a Bill (no last name this time) and it came from yet another different gmail address!

Thanks for your inquiry, just like we reached out to you through your website contact form is how we can promote your ad text to others. We offer 2 basic types of advertising, bulk and niche targeted. With bulk, we’re just blasting your ad out to the masses, with niche targeted we’ll be scraping Google for specific sites that you would want to target.

Virtually any business could benefit from a bulk blast, it’s like sending out flyers to a given area. However, if you’re a company selling used restaurant equipment for example then you’d be better off targeting and sending messages to restaurants.

Our prices are cheap, niche blasts are $99 for campaigns that run all month long and bulk starts at just $99 to reach 1 million sites.

You can check out our website for more details and prices for all our plans. Just visit: cfm.marketingmagic.xyz

Feel free to reply to this message with any questions or concerns.

Thanks!

Bill

Wow, that doesn’t sound dodgy AT ALL (yes, yes it does, amazingly so)…

The site linked in the email is pretty basic having three pages – home, pricing plans and contact. The name of the company seems to be just ‘Contact Form Marketing’. Not exactly original!

The domain was registered on the 5th Feb 2020 – so just over six months ago. This doesn’t exacely inspire confidence.

What also doesn’t inspire confidence is that there is NO information about the company on the site AT ALL. There is also no privacy statement or information of any kind (which is kind of important these days…).

The only way of contacting anyone through the site is via a contact form. Rather ironically, this form has an anti-spam measure on it..!

The site claims that:

“Contact Form Marketing is perfectly legal and is virtually unaffected by spam filters”

The fact they have to say it’s ‘virtually unaffected by spam filters’ should start alarm bells ringing.

As we’ll see below, their services also seem FAR FROM BEING ‘perfectly legal’!

On the site they offer packages for sending messages through contact forms on sites generally (randomly) or in four countries: The USA, Canada, the UK and Australia.

So let’s look at the anti-spam legislation in each of those four countries and see what they say.


USA: CAN-SPAM

In its guidance to businesses it the top links says:

“Don’t use false or misleading header information”

Well, they seem to have used a fake name in their contact form spam to me, so I think I’ll call that false or misleading information!

“Tell recipients where you’re located.”

They didn’t do this

“Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you – you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you.”

They didn’t do this either…


Canada: CASL and PIPEDA

From the last link (FAQs prepared by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) it says:

“If you are sending a commercial electronic message, you need to comply with three main requirements. You need to: (1) obtain consent, (2) provide identification information, and (3) provide an unsubscribe mechanism.”

They didn’t any of those three when spamming me!


UK: PECR

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/

At the top of the above link it states:

“You must not send marketing emails or texts to individuals without specific consent. There is a limited exception for your own previous customers, often called the ‘soft opt-in’.

You can send marketing emails or texts to companies. However, it is good practice to keep a ‘do not email or text’ list of any companies that object.”

I count as a individual and they certainly didn’t get my consent.


Australia: Spam Act 2003

From the top link, which is guidance to businesses it says:

“If you plan to send marketing messages or emails, you must first have permission from the person who will receive them.

Even if someone else is sending out your marketing messages for you, you must still have permission from each person who will receive your messages.

After you get permission, you must ensure your message:

identifies you as the sender
contains your contact details
makes it easy to unsubscribe”

They didn’t do any of those.

It also says:

“Under the Spam Act, you cannot:

use or supply a list that has been created with address-harvesting software
use or supply address-harvesting software”

In Bill’s email, he actually says they use ‘scraped’ (harvested) contacts. So that breaks that then.


There is also GDPR and other privacy related laws (like the CCPA) to consider. If an email address is identifiable to an individual (so if it’s like [email protected]) then that data comes into the privacy laws of GDPR, CCPA, etc. (and that opens some other very big cans of privacy related worms)!


Conclusion

As we can see from the above, that this type of marketing/advertising is FAR FROM BEING LEGAL in many countries around the world!

The fact that this kind of business has to spam to get business just proves the point really…

This kind of marketing is simply SPAM. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If you get an email like this through your contact form – HIT DELETE.

Leave a comment