Reporting Spam

Explanation of Process

The following is a simple summary of the process to follow when sending a spam complaint. The first thing you should do is determine the actual origin of the spam, the second thing you should do is to find out where to send your complaint to based on that information, and lastly of course, email the complaint.

Sample Complaint

The following message is an example of a spam complaint that could be sent for the sample spam below:

Subject: Spam: HK$280 or US$35 to get 30,000,000 e-mail address (fwd)

The following piece of email was sent to me from a computer on your
network ( Please take whatever action is necessary to
prevent any further spam messages from your network, thank you.

-----------Forwarded Message Below------------

Spam Samples

Below is an actual piece of spam that has been anonymized for protection of the user it was sent to. Note that to even see a message like this, it’s necessary to view the full headers for an email. A short description below shows how to do this in a few popular email clients:

UF Webmail: Open the message and select message source from the lower-right hand corner

Microsoft Outlook:

View internet message headers in Outlook

Mozilla Thunderbird:

  1. Open the Thunderbird menu in the top right corner of the application
  2. Choose View > Headers > All
  3. Open the message, and scroll to the top of it to see the headers
Received: from leo ( [])
by (8.9.3/8.9.3/2.1.0) with SMTP id MAA74438;
Wed, 25 Apr 2001 12:23:04 -0400
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 12:23:04 -0400
Message-Id: <>
Subject: HK$280 or US$35 to get 30,000,000 e-mail address
X-Mailer: snEtV2AhorANevsNdOCTyW
Content-Type: text/plain;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-MIME-Autoconverted: from Quoted-Printable to 8bit 
by id MAA74438

200,000 Fax number of Hong Kong Enterprises
1,500,000 E-mail list for Hong Kong
1,000,000 E-mail list for China
2,000,000 E-mail list for Taiwan
25,000,000 E-mail list for the world.

This is your best way to get the above information to promote your

Only HK$280 or US$35 can get it. (Postage excluded if outside Hong Kong)

If you only got the hit rate only 0.5%, there is
customers. If you got only USD1.00 from each customer, you can earn
USD148,5000.00 from here.

Give us a e-mail for your contact information.


Now that we’ve got the full source of a spam message that was sent to us, let’s look at it to try and figure out where email originated from and see how we can alert the system administrator of the spam.

Note that the first three lines of the above source show the path the email took. In some messages, multiple hops will be made, but they will almost always be composed of three line blocks such as this. In those cases, you will want to go to the last block on the list to find the first email server that received the message. See the below examples for more on this.

Notice that the message claims that:

Received: from leo ( []) 
by (8.9.3/8.9.3/2.1.0) with SMTP id MAA74438; 
Wed, 25 Apr 2001 12:23:04 -0400

Meaning a machine named leo who claimed to be with an IP address of sent a message through to the user on Wed, 25 Apr 2001. The machine name is configured by the user and so we can’t trust that, and the name can be faked easily, but it’s harder to fake the IP address. So is our first bit of information that will lead us to our spam report.

Now it’s time for us to find out where to send our complain based on the IP. Swhois is a smart whois query that will recursively try whois servers until it has the right server for a given IP address. When we try our suspect IP, we’re told that it is from:

Cable & Wireless USA (NETBLK-CW-10BLK)
CW-10BLK -
Hong Kong Telephone, Inc. MIAA 28/F TELECOM TOWER (NETBLK-CW-208-151-64)
CW-208-151-64 -

The descriptions in parenthesis are links to more detailed information for each of those records, so we’re going to click on both of those to find the email address we need to send the complaint to.

The second link gives us the email, and the first one gives The best emails to send the spam report to would first be:,, and If we don’t receive a reply from them, or if we think that our complaint might be better heard by the first provider, we can always send it to those addresses as well (,

Additional Examples

Here are some additional examples to demonstrate how to locate the correct source IP from an email. Note that even the source IP on the first connection can be spoofed, however, it requires an insecure mail server to send through to do that, and, in that case, often going to the second server the mail was sent to and complaining that their mail server is misconfigured can be a positive step to take.


Received: from ( [])
by (8.9.3/8.9.3/h4) with ESMTP id LAA20364
for ; Mon, 26 Feb 2001 11:56:56 -0500 (EST)
Received: from ( [])
by (8.11.2/8.11.2/2.2.1) with ESMTP id f1QGt5H58750
for ; Mon, 26 Feb 2001 11:55:05 -0500
Received: from ([])
by (8.9.3+Sun/8.9.1/dna) with ESMTP id LAA05138 for ; Mon, 26 Feb 2001 11:55:04 -0500 (EST) Message-Id: <> Received: from ( []) by with SMTP (Microsoft Exchange Internet Mail Service Version 5.5.2653.13) id FQ6A5WAG; Sun, 25 Feb 2001 16:19:12 -0600
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 01 15:33:35 EST
Subject: toner supplies
X-UIDL: 7a187e738164a673124e17e6bfb3ac77

 -----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2001 3:34 PM
Subject: toner supplies 


The source IP appears to be:


Received: from ( [])
by (8.9.3/8.9.3/2.1.0) with ESMTP id AAA56716
for ; Thu, 26 Apr 2001 00:00:08 -0400
Received: from ( [])
by (8.11.3/8.11.1) with SMTP id f3Q3vtA01460;
Thu, 26 Apr 2001 07:57:56 +0400
Message-Id: <>
From: "Altervest-Nara"
To: Subject:=?Windows-1251?Q?=EA=EE=F2=F2=E5=E4=E6=E8!?=
Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 07:58:34 Ìîñêîâ? (ëåòî)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-Priority: 3 
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: post 

As this shows, many spam messages are in a foreign language. The source IP appears to be: