California State Board of Equalization: Collecting Taxes From a Spamtrap?

The California State Board of Equalization, the tax authority of the U.S. state of California, sent a bulk email reminder to pay taxes to an email address that was closed in 2003 and has not received legitimate email for many, MANY years. Nonetheless, like most email sent by ESP Yesmail from this particular set of IPs, the spam claims that this long-dead email address “recently registered with a network website to receive special online offers”.

As with a great deal of other spam sent by Yesmail and blogged about here on the MainSleaze blog, this claim is not only untrue but absolute nonsense. Either the Board of Equalization resurrected an email list that has not been maintained properly, and that therefore has email addresses that have not been contacted for almost a decade, or the Board of Equalization purchased a list.

Actually, there is a third possibility. Yesmail might have offered, doubtless out of the purest motives and the kindness of their hearts, to send public service announcements for struggling governments, either to that government’s own list or to their “targeted” list of California residents. (Yesmail’s corporate parent InfoGroup sells lists, and Yesmail advertises this service on their web site under Yesmail Prospector.) While I doubt that the information will be forthcoming, I would really like to know where the email addresses for this spam run were sourced from.

Sending IP:

Spam Sample:

Actual Headers:

Received: from ( [])
        by <xxx> (Postfix) with ESMTP id 246F8CFCCCA
        for <xxx>; Wed, 11 Jan 2012 19:xx:xx -0600 (CST)
DKIM-Signature: <xxx>
DomainKey-Signature: <xxx>
Content-Transfer-Encoding: binary
Message-ID: <xxx>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; charset=ascii; boundary="<xxx>"
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Mailer: MIME::Lite <xxx>
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 2012 01:xx:xx UT
To: <xxx>
From: "Board of Equalization" <>
Subject: Paying Tax on Online Purchases
X-Campid: cid=<xxx>
List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:unsubscribe-<xxx>>
X-Pviq: <xxx>
Sender: "Board of Equalization" <>
X-Eid: <xxx>

Readable Email:

From: Board of Equalization <>
To: <spamtrap>
Subject: Paying Tax on Online Purchases

You recently registered with a network website to receive special online offers. To no longer receive messages, please use the link below to remove your subscription.<xxx>

Did You Make a “Tax Free” Purchase From the Internet?

The State Board of Equalization (BOE)(<xxx> ) [REDIRECTS TO:] is reminding Californians that, while online shopping was a convenient way to quickly purchase holiday gifts, tax may still be owed on those purchases made online or from out-of-state retailers.

Generally, when an online or out-of-state retailer does not collect tax at the time of the sale for a purchase shipped to California, the purchaser still owes tax. This tax is called “use tax” and is generally the same rate as the sales tax rate from an in-state purchase. Note: you do not owe use tax on electronic downloads or items normally exempt from sales tax. (read more:<xxx> )

Online Shoppers are Responsible for Paying Use Tax

Some online or out-of-state retailers will collect tax from you at the time of the sale. You will know tax was charged if it appears on your receipt. If the purchase would normally have been subject to sales tax, and tax was not charged, use tax is still due and becomes your responsibility as a purchaser to report and pay it.

How to Pay Use Tax for Online Purchases


450 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
PO BOX 942879, Sacramento, CA 94279

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