I’ve been getting spam for many years — as long as there has been easily accessible e-mail, there has been spam. What could be easier than writing up an e-mail, addressing it to hundreds of thousands of people, and hitting send? As e-mail programs and services get more clever and find ways to filter out junk e-mail, people become ever more crafty with how they write their spam so that the filters don’t trap it.

Most of us view spam as a nuisance and just relegate it to the bin as soon as we see it. Sometimes we make fun of it and tell our friends about how many large member e-mails we have received, or how popular we are with certain concerned individuals in Nigeria who want to share their millions of dollars with us.

Dan Balsam is another kind of person entirely — he actively makes money suing spammers.

[Balsam] spends most of his work time suing spammers on his own or on behalf of clients. He also spends a lot of time being sued by spammers, who have claimed he spills confidential settlement terms. He’s currently suing Tagged.com on behalf of some 50 clients, and the company’s New York and San Francisco law firms are suing him. “It’s lots of fun,” he says.

Talk about making a living doing something about which you are passionate.

The lawyer’s next target is likely “a website that purports to have cheating wives who want to have sex with me. And with everyone.”

Here’s Balsam’s beef: These aren’t real cheating wives. They’re fake profiles. The “from” and “subject” lines are therefore deceptive. “If this is what you’re into, fine. My issue is the spamming. The subject line is ‘married women want to have sex with you.’

We’ve all received the same irritating e-mails, but our reactions were limited to internal expletives, or even mumbling under our breath.

Balsam is a great model of someone who saw something that he didn’t like and did something to make it better. We could certainly use more lawyers like Dan Balsam to sue the spammers of the world so that they will think twice before sending the junk to us.


  1. Great article, Gordon! I hate Spam! My email is much cleaner today than it was just five years ago, though. I think that’s Postini at work — or maybe the Spammers are getting put out of business faster now than before.

  2. We use Postini at work and it catches quite a bit, home I get a lot less. I just delete, but I wonder how spammers make money off this stuff, just from selling email lists?

    I’m still waiting for my millions from Nigeria to arrive.

    1. I think the reason it continues to work so well for them, Mik, is that even if they succeed in rooking a fraction of a fraction of a percent of those they spam, they make money.

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