‘Dead spammer’ story a hoax

Update: yep, it’s spam.

Earlier today, Digg and Reddit featured this story:

Alexey Tolstokozhev (btw, in Russian his name means ‘Thick Skin’), a Russian spammer, found murdered in his luxury house near Moscow. He has been shot several times with one bullet stuck in his head. According to authorities, this last head shot is a clear mark of russian hit men (known as “killers” in Russia).

Since then, it’s received plenty of attention — I even posted it to my link blog myself. Unfortunately, I’m now certain it’s a fake. (Igor at the McAfee AVERT blog concurs.)

Here are my reasons:

  • There are still no corroborating stories in the press, several hours later;

  • ‘Alexey Tolstokozhev’ doesn’t appear in ROKSO, or even Google;

  • The entire site claims to have been shut down due to load, all except for that one page — there isn’t a single link that can be reached that works;

  • Indeed, Google has no other pages indexed on that site, which is pretty odd for a weblog;

  • And most fishy of all, the domain was registered yesterday, using a privacy-protection service, on Estdomains (which has a poor reputation).

All very fishy. My guess is that in a week’s time, that page will be a linkfarm, picking up all that Google juice for free. In other words, loonov.com is a spam site…

Update: Greetings, Slashdot comment readers! Hopefully that uncritical article (which was posted after this one) will be fixed to note the hoax soon…

Other voices have since added their agreement — Alex Eckelberry at Sunbelt software added his a few minutes after I posted this, and the Register wrote an article this morning about it.

(BTW, just to save some face — I’d like to note that I smelled a rat at the time I posted it initially, qualifying the link with a sceptical ‘hmm’. I’m not that gullible ;)

Update 2: the /. story was fixed by Zonk: ‘Good story. Unfortunately, probably a fake.’

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  1. Posted October 11, 2007 at 23:18 | Permalink

    As further corroboration, neither of the trivial Cyrillic versions of that give anything related to spam (indeed, they give the same results, because Russian-speakers tend not to differentiate ? (“yo”) and ? (“o”)). A search for the name in on the same page with Kushnir (who actually existed, and was killed possibly because of his spamming) doesn’t give any results, which would be odd indeed if the story checked out.

  2. Abdul Alhazred
    Posted October 12, 2007 at 19:43 | Permalink

    Aw shucks.

    I should have known it was too good to be true. :)

  3. patrick
    Posted October 12, 2007 at 21:05 | Permalink

    If you look at the site too, the sorry.htm page is hardcoded into every one of the links on the page. If you actually had to shut down part of your site, you would probably have a genuine link, but have your webserver redirect redirect when people request the pages you don’t want shown. Changing all the links by hand would be a huge pain.

  4. Pasta
    Posted October 13, 2007 at 00:51 | Permalink

    Maybe you could create a site about a blogger who shot himself in the foot?

  5. Posted October 14, 2007 at 20:41 | Permalink

    @”Pasta”, are you trying to say I shot myself in the foot? Hardly.

    @patrick: yes, agreed.

    @Aidan: thanks, good research!

  6. Posted October 17, 2007 at 16:46 | Permalink

    The site really is fishy. Sounds like a great way to get a high PageRank and lots of juicy links containing “viagra” and “penis enlargement”…

  7. Posted February 10, 2012 at 04:27 | Permalink

    I just know about that, i never pay aontteitn to comment configuration in wordpress before. Thanks for the lesson.David