Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mama What?

"Mama What???"

This was in the subject line of an email I just received from a girlfriend.

This is what she had to say to me:

"did you sign me up for some mother's group? or is it spam? i cant imagine you would think it appropriate!"

OK, I made a HUGE mistake. It was late. 2 AM actually. I'd been up for two days with a very sick 7 year old and I was feeling a little, I don't know...alone. While I am online, I get this invitation to plant a tree, and being a kind of outdoorsy, tree-hugging kind of girl, I thought I would pass on the tree. I mean, who doesn't want to plant a tree? And yes, I entered my email password....I know, I know! (did I mention it was 2 AM?) I've since changed it, but still that doesn't erase the fact that I entered my password. You all know NEVER to do this, right?

Over the next few days, I began getting emails from people I hadn't heard from in ages. I was kind of shocked, because I hadn't picked anyone from my address book to send the invite to. I mean afterall, the email dis say "enter you password and we'll keep it private." (I already have beat myself up for this, you don't have to!)

I even got emails from myself to myself! (I have a couple of different email addresses)

It was obvious I'd been had, so I changed my email password right away (you should do this if you haven't already, and continue to do it regularly, stupidity or no stupidity) and thought the matter was over, but I kept getting emails from friends (at least they used to be friends!)

The one reply that caught my eye was from my sister-in-law, who said her 10 year old son got the tree invite. Ya, I am sure I would have invited him to Mamasource!

At this point, I went to unsubscribe from all things Mamasource and found I could not. The "unsubscribe" link went straight to a page for email preferences, and I can tell you there was not one preference for removing yourself from the list. This is in blatant disregard of the CAN-SPAM act which regulates commercial email. By this time, I was getting pretty angry. Yes, at myself too, because I, like many of you, know better. It was the lure of that darn tree.

My new slogan for Mamasource is:

Plant a Tree, Spam Your Friends!

I started to wonder if I was the only one having trouble with Mamasource, propagator of SPAM, harvester of emails, so I started to do some research. I found that a lot of people really liked this site, but I couldn't get past the whole SPAM and EMAIL HARVESTING tactic which is just, well lame!

When I found out that the founder is Artie Wu, the former founder and CEO of Internet market research company Vividence, and when I got past the "he's a man?" thought, my next thought came out as "Shame on YOU Artie Wu!" at which point the dogs woke up and put their tales between their legs. Seriously Artie, how can you SPAM people like that? How can you not provide an UNSUBSCRIBE link that actually unsubscribes people? Did you learn these dirty little black hat techniques from some underlings at Vividence, or did you teach them to your team yourself? Maybe you just waited until you could form your own little online community. Can't you build your subscriber base without resorting to these underhanded email marketing tactics?

"CONNECTING moms in your community"

should be changed to...

"COLLECTING moms in your community!"

I pulled some very interesting comments off the Internet from other people who had similar problems and I am going to share them here. Of course, because I value people's privacy, I will not share names, screennames, URLS or any other personal information about the posters.

Please feel free to include YOUR comments here about Mamasource as a website (a lot of women like it) and about these questionable email campaigns they are launching (plenty of women don't like that!) Anyone with any information on CAN-SPAM and harvesting emails in is welcome to reply as well. I want to hear YOUR thoughts on this matter.

To report spam, simply forward the email in its entirety to spam@uce.gov and if you really like Mamasource, do them a favor and write to them and tell them you don't approve of their non-compliant use of email. Tell them it is shady, tacky and ILLEGAL!

What other people are saying about Mamasource's questionable email practices:

"i used to be a member of mamasource and it used to be okay. i changed email addresses because i tried for a year to unsub and it wouldn't let me and was ticking me off royally!"

"I tried unsuccessfully for a while to unsub from the INDIVIDUAL emails because it got to be so many. I finally just switched it to the daily digest, so it's not flooding my mailbox all day, but I usually delete them without looking at them now." (note: contact them directly and they will unsubscribe you)

"I joined Mamasource this morning look for cakes/bakeries for my daughter's upcoming birthday. Now a couple of my friends have emailed me and thanked me for the "flower"? In my profile(on mamasource) it shows members I have invited, flowers I have sent...whoa! Hold on,
I didn't send anything to anyone. What is going on?"

"What a shady way to spread your website...now everyone in my gmail address book will get a flower? Oh niiice....So not cool."

"I recently got invited there to plant a tree or something, by a friend of mine. So, I clicked the link and did the tree thing, but when it asked for permission to invite others by getting into my email, I bailed. I thought it was kind of weird." (smart girl!)

"I received the tree planting invite from a family member and I was disappointed when it signed me up to mommasource. Maybe I'm naiive but that email was really misleading. I'm not interested in being a part of something that has to be sneaky to get members."

"a forum spamming my friends, a little tacky on their part."

Mamasource may be a great site, but they harvest people's emails using this tree planting tactic. When you sign up with them, they do not provide a valid way to opt-out or unsubscribe. This is shady and against the CAN-SPAM act that regulates commercial emails. Beware of these emails, and this scam, and never enter you email password when prompted. Please mark these emails as spam and contact mamasource to tell them you disapprove of their spammy email tactics! If you'd like to report their emails to the FTC, simply forward them to spam@uce.gov

You can also write to them, but I am sure you will get an email much like the one I received. I am quite positive it is set up as an auto-reply, because I have received several of the same emails.


This is Linda at Mamasource Member Support. Thanks for your message, and we are so sorry for any inconvenience.

Email address book contacts that are checked and highlighted in bright yellow are only contacted during the registration process if the button is clicked to "Select Moms and Invite". In this case, those highlighted contacts receive an invitation to join Mamasource.

As you requested I have gone ahead and canceled your account.

Please let me know if you need any assistance and I will be happy to help you.

Again, we are very sorry for any misunderstanding, and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Mamasource Member Support


I don't know of anyone who was able to select anyone in particular. That invite went out to everyone in my address book, including my nephew!

Again, please post your comments here, I don't care if they are anonymous or not, and hit your "report spam" button, forward the email to spam@uce.gov and write Mamasource if you really want to see them continue as the beloved site they seem to be. Their email address (for the auto generated email response) is support@mamasource.com

If you like the service they are offering, demand they quit using shady tactics to grow their customer base!

Oh, and one more thing, in all the searches on "mamasource spam" I did, I kept seeing their anti-spam stance for their site:

"Mamasource is a free service, but to protect our members we are an invitation-only community. We have a strict no-spam policy, and your personal information will never be shared with advertisers."

This part kills me! A strict anti-spam policy? On their site maybe!

For more information on the CAN-SPAM act, please visit:

The FTC's page on CAN-SPAM Regulations

P.S. You know, the reason I am so furious (yes, I am mad at myself too) and created this blog, is because Mamasource is supposed to be a respected site and valuable resource for MOMS...not some SPAM generator.

Just so you know, I have no objection to the site itself (so far) but to the creepy and illegal SPAM techniques they use. I never report SPAM, I am far too busy and with gmail, it gets filtered quite nicely, but this has raise my hackles. Maybe it is the MOM in me!

Please post your thoughts on this illegal and tacky behavior below!


Amy Alkon said...

I urge anyone who has spent a night worrying that they've just spammed every business contact in their address book with icko mommymail to go after Mamasource every way possible. Currently, there's no name or contact information on the site. When anyone finds it, pass it on.

Here is a chronicle of my travails with the sleazebags.


Thanks for creating this site. Here's hoping it stays up.

Maria Alexander said...

Address and Phone:

Admin Name........... DNS Hostmaster
Admin Address........ 1032 Irving St. #983
Admin Address........
Admin Address........ San Francisco
Admin Address........ 94122
Admin Address........ CA
Admin Address........ UNITED STATES
Admin Email.......... hostmaster@postmaster.mamasource.com
Admin Phone.......... +1.4159248408
Admin Fax............

Mama What? said...

Hey, thanks for the information with an actual 415 (San Francisco) telephone number. When I looked up Mamasource in the Whois database I found a private registration, another sneaky tactic, with no real contact info.

This is what I found:
Domain Name.......... mamasource.com
Creation Date........ 2005-01-14
Registration Date.... 2005-01-14
Expiry Date.......... 2009-01-14
Organisation Name.... Mamasource
Organisation Address. P O Box 99800
Organisation Address.
Organisation Address. EmeryVille
Organisation Address. 94662
Organisation Address. CA
Organisation Address. US

Admin Name........... PrivateRegContact Admin
Admin Address........ P O Box 99800
Admin Address........
Admin Address........ EmeryVille
Admin Address........ 94662
Admin Address........ CA
Admin Address........ US
Admin Email.......... contact@myprivateregistration.com
Admin Phone.......... +1.5105952002
Admin Fax............

Tech Name............ PrivateRegContact TECH
Tech Address......... P O Box 99800
Tech Address.........
Tech Address......... EmeryVille
Tech Address......... 94662
Tech Address......... CA
Tech Address......... US
Tech Email........... contact@myprivateregistration.com
Tech Phone........... +1.5105952002
Tech Fax.............
Name Server.......... ns1.dynoglobal.net
Name Server.......... ns2.dynoglobal.net
Name Server.......... ns3.dynoglobal.net
Name Server.......... ns4.dynoglobal.net

Maria Alexander said...

Ooooo! He did that within the last 24 hours. When I checked Whois.org (that's where I got that domain information), it was through Mamasource corporation, not private registration. Interesting.

Maria Alexander said...

The phone number is also different. Yeah, he definitely made a move to cover his tracks. I threatened him with a class action lawsuit for damaging professional relationships through his address book hijacking.

Mama What? said...

Maria -

Am I understanding that he changed his Whois domain registration information within the past 24 hours from public to a private registration? WOW!

How sneaky!

I am sure glad you posted his public info...thanks for being on the ball!

Maria Alexander said...

You're welcome! Unfortunately, it's a skill you learn dealing with cyberbastards. I've had people steal my fiction published online, so I'm always on the lookout.

Mama What? said...

I just spoke with Trees for the Future.

They have no idea who Mamasource is, and they are NOT affiliated with them in any way!

If anyone still has their original TREE email invite, please let me know!

Maria Alexander said...

I think that's why he changed to the "virtual flower" tactic the next day because he knew he was on thin ice with the tree people.

Anonymous said...

Mamasource is on the Trees for the Future website.


Maria Alexander said...

I wonder why the tree people told our fearless blogger here that they'd never heard of them.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who the blogger is? I just found this page via a paid advertisement on Google. Is someone paying to promote this blog?

Maria Alexander said...

It's a lady named Kate from Amy's blog.


Are you sure it's paid advertising and that you didn't click a regular link? This blog just started on 2/5.

Mama What? said...

OK, I am new to blogging for sure and I am not an investigative journalist, just someone who smells a rat.

I am the author of this blog and the creator of the AdWords ad that got you here. The reason I am doing this is I want to get to the bottom of this.

Seriously, I suspect at there is a bunch of illegal activity going on through through the Mamasource site and if there is, it needs to be stopped.

Let me clarify something about Trees for the Future. As soon as I became aware that Mamasource was listed on their website, I had a sinking feeling in their stomach. Afterall, what good is there in accusing people of wrongdoing when there is none??? That is not my agenda. My agenda is in seeing these illegal email harvesting techniques STOP...now!

The fact is that when I called Trees For the Future the first time, they did say they didn't know who Mamasource was. When I was informed that Mamasource as indeed listed on their site (sinking stomach feeling, remember?) I immediately called them back and was told that Mamasource wasn't going to be on that site for long.

I told them that maybe I was wrong about Mamasource, but they didn't seem to think so. I told them several more times before I hung up to please verify all the information and NOT go off of my word, but still I smell a rat.

Maria Alexander said...

You're totally doing the right thing, Kate. It's frustrating when there's no clear course of action. You have to become resourceful, which you've done.

Mama What? said...

For the record:


and I will admit it if I am, but my gut tells me that I am not wrong and that there is something very suspicious going on here.

Again, what makes me so mad is that Mamasource is supposed to be this great community, but from what I see, their use of undernhanded email spamming techniques undermines it all.

Anonymous said...

I've been spammed several times by my unsuspecting freinds, who I am sure only wanted to plant a tree. I, like alot of people i'm sure, want to be kind to our envirronment.However,something bugged me about the fact that when I didn't respond right away, the email requests just kept coming. It smelled like spam; so before i clicked on the link, I decided to google mamasource first, and i ran into your site. Great job in helping me avoid a spam nightmare!!Thanks! I'll be reporting them to the site you suggested.

Anonymous said...

They got me too, yesterday... and by phone! A name came up on my caller ID as "Mary Hart" but that is not what the woman said her name was. I have a family childcare. She told me they were "talking good things about me" "all over" that site. She encouraged me to go check it out. I did, confused wondering who the heck would be talking about me on a website. I was in a hurry and didn't think when a comcast window popped up asking for my password. I thought it was still mamasource asking for my password. Anyhow... I am so angry that she violated me by personally calling me on my home number and scammed me. And, the entire time trying to flatter me and compliment me on my business.
I also learned a lesson, no legit site will make you register to view a forum.
Thankfully there were very few contacts in my address book as it is a fairly new computer. I am currently trying to do some things to stop or buffer the effects of this sites malicious attack on my privacy; changing passwords & taking my phone number off my website! I want to know now if they are going to give my phone number out too!
I got my first stupid email from their site this morning.