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disturbing

What people will pay for …

Sep. 29, 2017, under disturbing, opinions

One of the SPAM messages I looked at today claimed to be from Fairfax Finance Limited, offering business loans and startup capital.  I was suspicious if for no other reason than because the “fairfax.finance.limited@europe.com” email address looked bogus.  (It turns out europe.com is a parked domain, so how would legitimate mail go through it?)

In my research to see if Fairfax Finance Limited is a real company (which it apparently is, but not related to the email), one of the links Google provided led to a page on ZoomInfo.com that appeared to have some information in an expanded view.  I enabled Javascript for the page, and clicked the “more…” link to see what they had – and got a pop-up window that was trying to get me to install an executable program!  Of course, I shut the window and did NOT install the program, but instead started doing some research on ZoomInfo.com itself, especially after reading the terms and conditions in the popup window that included “… in exchange for downloading and installing the ZoomInfo Contact Contributor utility which, among other features, involves sharing my business contacts as well as headers and signature blocks from emails that I receive.” (emphasis mine)

There’s a Wikipedia page about the company, saying it’s a subscription-based SaaS site that “sells access to its database of information about business people and companies to sales, marketing and recruiting professionals.”  The Wikipedia page also says “Part of the company’s business model involves copying contents of web pages and storing them on its servers, and according to patent attorney Gene Quinn who runs the IPwatchdog intellectual property blog, this activity violates copyright law.”

So, from what I can see, this company builds its database by scraping public info off the Web, and by reading emails its users receive to collect contact information through software the user is expected to install and run on their system – for the sole benefit of ZoomInfo.com!  Then, ZoomInfo turns around and sells that information back to those same users, and to anybody else they can get to buy it – and people pay for this??!??!??  Apparently so, since the company has been in business since 2000 and has 100-200 employees.

… and we wonder why we have so much SPAM …


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