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Failed Spam Notices

Spammers rarely use a real, or legitimate email address on the From: line of their spam email.

Frequently, they will use an address from the same list they are using for the To: addresses, and this could easily be your own email address.

This means:

  • It may appear to others as though you are sending the spam.
  • If the spam email can not be delivered, you will receive a delivery failure notification from the destination mail server.
  • If To: address on a spam email is not valid, the message is delivered, by way of the notification, to the address on the From: line.
The standard for all mail servers is to send a failure notice to the originator whenever an email in not deliverable. All mail servers send these notices, to the From: address on the email, to be in compliance with Internet standards.

A good analogy is the return address you write on an envelope when you send US Postal Service mail. The address you provide is not the post office where you mail the letter, but rather where you want the letter returned, if the post office can not deliver it to the addressee.

We recommend that you simply delete these emails. They rarely contain enough information to reveal the true source of the spam email that caused the notice to be generated.


Sample Delivery Failure Notice

From: Mail Delivery Subsystem 
Message-Id: <200406230006.UAB04635@rly-yi03.mx.ao.com>
To: 
Subject: Returned mail: User unknown
Auto-Submitted: auto-generated (failure)
X-Env-From: MAILER-DAEMON Tue Jun 22 19:06:55 2004
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:06:49 -0400 (EDT)

This is a MIME-encapsulated message

--UAB04635.1087949209/rly-yi03.mx.aol.com

The original message was received at Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:06:31 
-0400 (EDT) from asnet00-052.aus.texas.net [207.170.89.52]

   ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----


   ----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to air-yi03.mail.ao.com.:
>>> RCPT To:
<<< 550 MAILBOX NOT FOUND
550 ... User unknown

--UAB04635.1087949209/rly-yi03.mx.aol.com
Content-Type: message/delivery-status

Reporting-MTA: dns; rly-yi03.mx.aol.com
Arrival-Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:06:31 -0400 (EDT)

Final-Recipient: RFC822; user@aolwxyz.com
Action: failed
Status: 5.1.1
Remote-MTA: DNS; air-yi03.mail.ao.com
Diagnostic-Code: SMTP; 550 MAILBOX NOT FOUND
Last-Attempt-Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:06:49 -0400 (EDT)

--UAB04635.1087949209/rly-yi03.mx.ao.com
Content-Type: text/rfc822-headers

Received: from  ao.com (asnet00-052.aus.texas.net 
[207.170.89.52]) by rly-yi0 3.mx.ao.com (v99_r4.3) with ESMTP 
id MAILRELAYINYI38-7c040d8c962158; Tue, 22 Jun 2004 20:06:10 -0400
From: helpdeskspam@staff.texas.net
To: user@aolwxyz.com
Subject: hi
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 2004 18:23:17 -0500
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
        boundary="----=_NextPart_000_0016----=_NextPart_000_0016"
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-AO-IP: 207.170.89.52
X-AO-SCOLL-SCORE: 0:XXX:XX
X-AO-SCOLL-URL_COUNT: 0
Message-ID: <200406222006.7c040d8c962158@rly-yi03.mx.ao.com>

--UAB04635.1087949209/rly-yi03.mx.ao.com--