Enron Still Linked To Junk E-mail Marketer
February 13, 2002
Enron Corp. may be winding down its Internet services business, but the bankrupt company's network has become a burgeoning source of "spam," or junk e-mail.
Since around October, e-mails pitching a variety of products and services have emanated from network facilities assigned to Enron, and have been piling up in some Internet users' e-mail in-boxes, according to newsgroup postings.
The spams, which include offers for everything from shoes and credit cards to software that deletes pornography, are the product of Virtumundo, a Kansas City-based direct marketing firm that, according to its Web site, is "one of the top 50 Internet companies."
Headers of the messages sent by Virtumundo reveal that they originated from a farm of mail servers located at the address Vmadmin.com. A check of public databases shows the Internet protocol (IP) addresses of the servers are registered to Enron.
A message sent by Virtumundo on behalf of a client last week, for example, carried the subject line, "How a Housewife made $2,600 in 5 hours" and promoted a technique for buying and selling automobiles. According to the message's headers, it was delivered on Feb. 8 by a mail server named mailman49.vmadmin.com. The IP address of the server, 184.108.40.206, is part of a block owned by Enron and leased to Virtumundo, according to Internet records.
Enron representatives did not respond to requests for information about the company's relationship with Virtumundo.
Enron and its Internet subsidiary, Enron Broadband Services, filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 2. According to a statement at the Enron Web site, Enron is working on "an orderly wind-down" of the broadband business.
A former Enron Broadband official told Newsbytes the company's customers primarily were large bandwidth consumers, including Microsoft, Global Crossing, Qwest and Level 3. The former Enron spokesperson said she had not heard of Virtumundo.
Representatives of Virtumundo, which reportedly has annual sales between $10 million and $100 million, did not respond to interview requests.
A privacy statement at the Virtumundo Web site said the company does not send unsolicited e-mail and instead uses an "opt-in" method of obtaining customer information. The statement said Virtumundo also purchases lists of e-mail addresses from third parties.
According to published reports, Virtumundo was sued in November by DoubleClick. The Internet ad giant claimed it was owed more than $400,000 for e-mail marketing campaigns it performed for Virtumundo. Virtumundo reportedly said it will file a counterclaim against DoubleClick alleging breach of contract.
Virtumundo and its 22-year-old founder and sole shareholder, Scott Lynn, have been featured in articles by USA Today, Business 2.0 and the Wall Street Journal. Besides its e-mail marketing business, Virtumundo operates TreeLoot.com, an online game in which contestants attempt to win cash prizes by clicking on an image of a tree.
Virtumundo's main Web site is hosted by California-based Exodus.
Virtumundo is on the Web at http://www.virtumundo.com .
Enron is at http://www.enron.net .
Reported by Newsbytes
by Brian McWilliams. Copyright © 2001 BizReport Network.