How to deal with spammers?


So it finally happened. You went to a conference for your employer or visited a webinar or a website … somehow, you willingly and consciously shared your email address and/or phone – because they require you to “check-in.” Fast forward three months, and now you are getting phone calls after phone calls from their marketing and their newsletter, for which you never signed up! You can ever so politely say that you are not interested in their product and unsubscribe from their marketing emails on the phone call. These actions should be the end of it. What do you think?

No, they were just getting warmed up!

I started getting more and more imaginary “follow up” phone calls and then emails to schedule “appointments” with me & my manager to buy their product. Despite how many times I would unsubscribe from their emails, or I would tell them that I was not interested – on the phone, it did not stop. A new marketing associate would call me and then tell me that he/she did not know the conversation I had in the past with one of their own. This company kept cold calling me for a few months. Boy, they were persistent!

But then I realized, if they keep doing this, it must be fun! Why should they have all the fun? 😀

The time had come when their tactics backfire. I collected the email addresses and the phone numbers of each associate, ever to communicate with me. It took me just a few minutes to set up an outlook rule to forward spam emails from their own company back to them. The kind of IP phone I use comes with an SDK. (SDK is an acronym for Software Development Kit, a software company would give you with a digital device to integrate with your computer program.)

Let the hacking begin!

The Social Network (2010)

The SDK documentation was not even close to being well documented. With some tinkering, I could programmatically monitor the incoming phone calls and place the calls. I wrote a pretty simple C# .NET Core worker service to call my computer program if the incoming number was on my blacklist. My background service simply answers the phone, mutes me, and starts calling the rest of the spammers from my blacklist.

The next time a blacklisted spammer called, sure enough, my “smarter than before” phone answered the call, started calling the rest of the spammers in a conference call and muted myself. By the time the spammer was greeting me, some of their fellow spammers had joined the conference call. They got confused. For a few days, they seem to think their phone lines got crossed. Some would hang up the phone, try again, only to fall into my trap, yet again. All I had to do was to make sure that my blacklisted phone numbers were up to date. Come on, I do not want them to miss out on the fun.

“‘I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

Obi-Wan, Star Wars

Now, I never have to let them know that there is warm blood on the other side of the line. It took the spammers a few days to realize that I was up to no good. I was never this much proud of my IT skills. 😉

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