Tuesday 24 May 2011

Twimates And Their Illegal Tactics

There's a new service currently in pre-launch which is similar to Twiends that allows you to increase your Twitter followers and Facebook page likes.

This new service called Twimates (twimates(dot)com) uses hacking and other illegal tactics to harvest email addresses to send you promotional materials about their new service. They are also sending phishing emails using aliases asking for your Twiends account login information. They are doing this to harm the reputation of Twiends and to gain access to Twiends membership base.

How do I know this? Quite simply, after receiving a unsolicited email from them on the 19th May and replying to ask where they obtained my email address, their response was quite frankly, shocking. Here's a copy of their response:

"Hi Derek, I'm sorry if we sounded like spammers, but we really trying to help people out. We know twiends policies are making their users very unhappy so we want to build a better and more user friendly site. To be honest, we got your email from twiends. They have very poor security and we broke into sections of their site. Another reason why you should switch to a new and better service."

The phishing email was a bit more serious in that it was supposedly selling seeds and then asking for your Twiends account login information. The way they obtained email addresses for this was by visitors entering their email addresses on their pre-launch registration page.

I have spoken to Dave Sumter, the owner of Twiends concerning this issue and measures have been put into place to beef up account security on his system. I have also contacted the email marketing service and hosting company where the spam and phishing emails originated. Given the way they harvested the email addresses and with them posting phishing emails, this should give adequate reasons for these companies to act. In fact and while writing this post, I've had confirmation that both iContact and HostGator have already taken the necessary steps to prevent this from happening again.

So as a word of warning: Any new service that uses these kind of illegal tactics to obtain customers/members should be avoided at ALL times. Just be aware everyone.

Update 25th May 2011 at 9:34am:

I've just received an email from Twimates after they seen this blog post. Here's the contents of that email:

Dear Derek,

We know you've been contact by one of our staff. He has indeed used our email list and spammed the users that had pre-registered with his own offer of twiends seeds. This was no way affiliated with Twimates, we are a legitimate site and abide by all the TOS. He has since been sacked from the team, and we are continuing to develop twimates ready for the launch date on June 1st.

We apologize for any spamming created during this period and we want to let you know that we've put a stop to it. Please let us now if you could edit the very negative blog post you wrote about us or remove it. A proof that we are legit and we don't get our users by spamming is showing you advertising options that we've bought: http://www.twitdom.com. We are a featured app on that website and also have a banner at the top.

Best Regards,
Twimates Team

Unfortunately, whether it was one of their staff or not, they are STILL liable for this person's actions. Furthermore, advertising on twitdom only costs approximately $50...that's certainly a small amount to invest in advertising, especially if they're trying to prove their legitimacy to me. If I was in their situation, I would have provided more information to backup my claims.

Will this blog post be removed or amended as per their request? Given the hard facts, the admission of hacking into the Twiends site (which incidentally used the same vocabulary, email and IP address to the response email I received today) plus other information I cannot yet disclose, the answer is a definite no! Sorry Twimates, you've given us adequate reasons why nobody should trust you.

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  1. As usual Derek great and timely info


  2. Thanks for the heads up Derek....will avoid. Really appreciate your diligence on our behalf...

  3. Although I don't use services like this to grow my followers...this was quite useful info and in time.At least now I know which email to avoid. :D

  4. Thank you Jim, Raven and Abhisek. The more people that are aware of this, the better.

  5. I haven't used any of these services at all. I believe in a quality over quantity approach. I know from my personal experience that more followers doesn't mean more hits on my posts. Thanks for posting this. It's shocking that they were so open about their illegal tactics, most hackers and phisers try to do it under the radar.

  6. Thanks for the update Derek. I will share this one.

  7. Useful blog entry, thank you a lot my dear friend Derek for sharing with us, Carlos from Brazil

  8. really an informative post....but people should not use these type of illegal tactics 2 grow their followers cause in the end it is not worth it

  9. What to say Derek, as usual your informations are great. Thanks for sharing with us.

  10. Thank you for this valuable info Derek. This should be widely circulated.

  11. Thank you for the heads up everyone...very much appreciated.

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  12. OH. MY. WORD. I am shaking my head at the sheer absurdity and mindset of anyone imprudent enough to ADMIT they hacked a company's system to harvest email addresses!!! Thanks for continuing to provide such valuable information to all of us, Derek. This is why I constantly suggest people find you and follow you. :)

  13. Good info always acceptable for every one ;-). Thanks for sharing.


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