“Why do we receive spam messages?” / 迷惑メールを追う(4)

in steemit •  last year 

“Uncover the Truth Behind Spam” <Part 4>

How do spam message senders ascertain your email address? The Special Mission News Crew asked a ‘List Broker’ who buys and sells private information.

We visited an old, rundown apartment in Tokyo. “Don’t start saying that list brokers are the root of all evil,” Mr. Shimozato (alias) said with a wry smile as he welcomed us to his one-room office.

We asked, “Why do we receive spam messages?” He immediately responded, “Because your information is being leaked,”

List brokers turn private information into cash. Prices can range from 0.1 yen to ten yen per piece of information. Selling prices are usually twice the cost of ascertaining the information. The source of the information can range from memberships to golf courses, spas, bridal agencies, and neighborhood associations, to lists of people who buy health supplements and adult goods.

Where is this information leaked?

Mr. Kawakami (alias), another list broker, says, “When middle management are forced out of their job, they may take a list of customers or employees with them.” Waste disposal companies and secondhand bookstores are also a source for information.

High school and university alumni associations often keep a database of members, which is easily be leaked. List brokers share information with one another and bankrupting brokers may sell off information to other brokers.

“There’s also an abundance of private information that is extracted from free smartphone apps.” Allowing games and fortune-telling apps access to your phonebook or address book gives an anonymous party access to email addresses, etc.


List of private information used by a ‘List Broker’ shows private information of real estate customers and members of online dating websites and rental video games. Could your information be used like this? (photo not related to article)

List brokers purchase and ‘process’ such information to create a value-added product. It would be easy, for example, to extrapolate a list of ‘single men in their 40s or 50s’, ‘living in Tokyo’, with a valid ‘pornography membership’. This list would be sold to online dating websites, who would value such information.

Utilizing specialized software to make sure emails are being received, brokers can maintain the relevancy of their database by transforming a “high school alumni list into a list of young adults or a list of employees at a major company into a list of wealthy elderlies”.

Is it legal to sell such lists of private information? It is legal as long as vendors register with the Personal Information Protection Commission and meet certain criteria. On the other hand, vendors cannot utilize lists that they acquired illegally nor can they be involved with loan sharks.

An external, former system engineer was arrested for crimes against the Unfair Competition Prevention Act for leaking the private information of the online educational giant, Benesse Holdings, Inc.’s 28.95 million customers. The Act on the Protection of Personal Information was revised in May 2016 in response to the incident. The revision now requires list brokers to manage records of where they ascertained information and to who they sold the information.

“Although mums the word, I would bet that the majority of list brokers purchased the Benesse information. Recently, however, people will not purchase data if it seems at all suspicious,” says Mr. Kawakami.

Mr. Shimozato, on the other hand, is certain that there are deceptive brokers. “These vendors are connected to online dating websites and loan sharks and stay hidden in the shadows. As long as such demand exists, they won’t disappear.” In other words, even though strengthening regulations appears to improve the state of the nation, underground list brokers still exist.

A list broker was arrested in February 2016 for being an accomplice to a bank transfer scandal. “I was caught for knowing that the information would be used illegally, but if I didn’t know it would have been ok. Business is business.”

System developers, sweet-talking hosts and hostess, and list brokers; these are the ‘professionals’ who work in the shadows of spam messages. We wonder who may have received spam to their smartphone today.




















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Now only if the spam messages were selling me something that I actually needed like more porn and bigger cheese burgers.


Mmm, It's easy to guess that people like cheeseburgers and potato chips.