International Sales Group: Selling High-End Real Estate to Bankrupt Real Estate Firms?

Florida-based real estate sales firm International Sales Group (ISG) is emailing a list that contains almost a dozen of my spamtraps. Most of those spamtraps were email addresses at real estate firms that went bankrupt between 2008 and 2011. ISG is either emailing a list that they have not contacted in years, or they bought a list or hired an email appender. Their ESP is Vertical Response, whose abuse department appears to have gone AWOL sometime in 2014.

Companies in trouble often spam. Both antispammers and ESP compliance departments have observed this phenomenon frequently. Sending bulk email is quite cheap when you don’t maintain lists, don’t put effort into building relationships, and don’t bother with such niceties as permission and engagement. Recipients, not senders, pay the bulk of the costs for bulk email, which is why spam is such a persistent problem.

I had never heard of ISG before today, but through the magic of Google located not just the domain that was used in this mailing but their corporate domain. At first glance their website looked like the website of a high-end realtor, but the copyright date is 2012 and I found no evidence that the site had been updated since then. The business does not appear to be in good health.

Neither does Vertical Response. I’m not seeing great amounts of email from them to my spamtraps, but last fall I and several people I talk with regularly noticed that we had not received responses to our spam complaints to them in some time. I later heard through industry contacts that their abuse department left en masse sometime last summer. Spammers normally flock to ESPs whose abuse desks are lax or missing, so I conclude that they are probably not sending much email.

Several IPs in the same network range that sent the spam below were also listed on the Spamcop blocklist when I checked this evening. Spamcop lists IPs reactively, because of spamtrap hits. At one time it had a high false positive rate, but these days is considered well run and reliable.

Last fall I blogged about another ESP, Topica, after noticing a sudden spike in spam from them. Topica had a terrible reputation for years. After their IPs were widely blocked, their email volume fell off to nearly nothing til the Payday loan operators took over. Vertical Response is not Topica. Yet. It probably still sends some legitimate, solicited email. I am watching them, however, and expecting the worst. If you (unlike me) are seeing significant spam from Vertical Response now, I would not recommend spending much time trying to contact their abuse department. You will probably have to block their IPs to stop the spam, and you are unlikely to block solicited, wanted email by doing so.

Sending IP: 74.116.89.112

Spam Sample:

Actual Headers:

Received: from mkt107-sf.verticalresponse.com (mkt107-sf.verticalresponse.com [74.116.91.141])
        by <xxx> (Postfix) with ESMTP id <xxx>
        for <xxx>; Fri, 13 Feb 2015 13:##:## +0000 (UTC)
DKIM-Signature: <xxx>
DomainKey-Signature: <xxx>
Received: from [10.4.##.##] ([10.4.##.##:##] helo=vm-mailer09.sf.verticalresponse.com)
        by sthelena (envelope-from <bounces-<xxx>@b.cts.vresp.com>)
        (ecelerity 3.1.6.41536 r(41536)) with ESMTP
        id <xxx>; Fri, 13 Feb 2015 05:##:## -0800
From: "ISG" <ISG@mail.vresp.com>
Reply-To: "ISG" <reply-<xxx>@u.cts.vresp.com>
To: <xxx>
Subject: Stunning City And Water Views | Fully Furnished From $1.8 Mil
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2015 13:##:## +0000
Message-ID: <<xxx>@mail.vresp.com>
List-Unsubscribe: <mailto:reply-<xxx>@u.cts.vresp.com?subject=unsubscribe>
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Company_ID: <xxx>
X-vrfbldomain: fbl.p0.verticalresponse.com
X-vrpod: p0
X-CTS-Enabled: <xxx>
X-Campaign: <xxx>
X-vrrpmm: <xxx>
X-Feedback-ID: <xxx>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
    boundary="__________MIMEboundary__________";
    charset="UTF-8"

Readable Email:

From: ISG <ISG@mail.vresp.com>
To: <spamtrap>
Subject: Stunning City And Water Views | Fully Furnished From $1.8 Mil

<Large image removed, not retrieved>

Echo Brickell Sales Center
1441 Brickell Avenue | 15th floor | Miami, FL 33131
T 786 360 1904 | F 786 360 3494
EchoBrickell.com

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facebook.com/echobrickell

ORAL REPRESENTATIONS CANNOT BE RELIED UPON AS CORRECTLY STATING THE REPRESENTATIONS OF THE DEVELOPER. FOR CORRECT REPRESENTATIONS, MAKE REFERENCE TO THIS BROCHURE AND TO THE DOCUMENTS REQUIRED BY SECTION 718.503, FLORIDA STATUTES, TO BE FURNISHED BY A DEVELOPER TO A BUYER OR LESSEE. THE INFORMATION PROVIDED, INCLUDING PRICING, IS SOLELY FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES, AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. THIS IS NOT AN OFFER TO SELL, OR SOLICITATION OF OFFERS TO BUY, THE CONDOMINIUM UNITS IN STATES WHERE SUCH OFFER OR SOLICITATION CANNOT BE MADE. THIS OFFERING IS MADE ONLY BY THE OFFERING DOCUMENTS FOR THE CONDOMINIUM AND NO STATEMENT SHOULD BE RELIED UPON IF NOT MADE IN THE OFFERING DOCUMENTS.

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ISG
2875 N.E. 191st Street
Suite 200
Aventura, Florida 33180
US

3 Responses to International Sales Group: Selling High-End Real Estate to Bankrupt Real Estate Firms?

  1. Hello,

    VerticalResponse abuse department responds to all complaints sent to us. We have not gone AWOL. We have an abuse process for dealing with customers who hit spamtraps. We mostly tend to find out about it when someone causes a blacklisting. We have relationships with several blacklists where they provide us redacted headers that allow us to find the customer who caused the issue (we generally need the From:, and appreciate the timestamp and subject lines. I appreciate the chance here to find customers who mail spamtraps without dealing with a blacklisting. I’d much rather handle the issue at this stage than deal with a Spamhaus listing later. I wanted to let you know we are here and we do monitor our abuse queue. Thank you. Jennifer Noyes

    • OK. You’ve got the report in this blog, and that report contains the information that you ask for. Is this customer still emailing from you? Please let us know what you did, and I will check my spamtraps and report back on the results.

  2. I just checked my logs. A day after a representative at Vertical Response responded to this blog, ISG spammed through Vertical Response again, and hit twice as many spamtraps as before. :/ #NOTImpressed

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