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I've just had a very peculiar problem. I just received an email, addressed to an email address that I have, as far as I'm aware, never distributed online (it's not my OpenID, it's my personal private email address), regarding an answer I posted here. And it's not an automated email, the person that wrote it seems to be genuine.

Has anyone else ever received personally addressed, unsolicited email in relation to the Stack Exchange network? If so, any ideas how they might have grabbed your email address? (I do use my real name on the SF site, but even my full name is very common).

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Does Googling the email address turn up anything? – waiwai933 Dec 12 '10 at 1:34
@waiwai - nope. It turns up some other variations of my email address that belong to other people, but it's also an ISP email address, which means it would be pretty damn hard to guess randomly. – Mark Henderson Dec 12 '10 at 1:37
Why not ask the sender where they have the address from. In this case however, I'm pretty sure the person must have Googled your address somehow. Maybe they got it from a mailing list like here… (this one doesn't show the full address but a contact form) – Pëkka Dec 12 '10 at 1:38
@Pekka - That's me alright, but it's a totally different email address. Anyway I did ask him, but I'm not holding my breath for a reply. – Mark Henderson Dec 12 '10 at 1:44
Hm. I once got spam at an address that I created but never used even once. Sometimes you just get (un)lucky. It was in form, though. Not sure how much that helps... spam isn't quite the same as an e-mail specifically about one of your Stack Exchange posts. – Pops Dec 12 '10 at 1:58

There's no way they could have gotten it from us; we don't show email addresses and we never give them out to anyone.

(that's assuming we even have it; we don't validate emails in any way)

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all good, I realise that. It's not even the email address I have registered with you. I'm just wondering if others have had a similar experience. – Mark Henderson Dec 12 '10 at 2:47

Now that you mention it: I have my mail address publicly in my profile, and have actually been contacted privately repeatedly by pretty hot chicks. This one even sent photos. She is in a refugee camp after losing her father, poor thing. She believes in Love and sincerity.

I did not make up the recipient address!


Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2010 10:36:25 -0700 (PDT)

From: Grace Campbell


Dearest Love, How was your night over there in your country and the day,i believe you had a nice night and that the atmosphere over there in your country is very nice today? Mine was a little bit warm over here in Dakar Senegal.

My name is Grace i am (24yrs) but age doesn't matter in a real relationship, so i am comfortable with your age,I am from Post Sudan in Africa, 5ft.4 tall, fair in complexion, single,(never married ) am presently residing in the missionary camp here in Senegal where i ran for refugee with the help of UN force due to the political civil war in my country.

My late father Dr. Campbell C. George, who was CEO of (C.C.G TECHNICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPANY PLC), in Port Sudan in Sudan. During the war, the rebel loyal to one of the greedy business associate of my late father attacked our house one early morning and killed my mother and father in a cold blood. It is only me that is alive now and i managed to make my way to this country Senegal by the help of UN army where i am living now in the missionary, headed by a Reverend Father, i used his office computer to send you this email and i only enter his office when he is less busy in his office.

I am a girl who loves to give people happiness always despite what the circumstance might look like. Most of my hobbies are,reading novels,jogging,listening to music,cooking,watching TV and movies. I like honest,real,sincere and trustworthy people. but i hate dishonest,cheaters, and irresponsible people. Finally, i wish to let you know that sincerity is the best way in life. Though we might be thousands of miles away from each other but it does not matter,what really matters in life is love not distance or colour.

I would like to know more about you.Your likes and dislikes,your hobbies and what you are doing presently.I will tell you more about myself in my next mail.Attached here is my picture. Hoping to hear from you soonest Yours forever Miss Grace.

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Pictures or it didn't happen? – Arjan Dec 12 '10 at 17:43
@Arjan and this one. they are from the same E-Mail but isn't that a different girl? – Pëkka Dec 12 '10 at 17:46
If anyone clicked, it wasn't me ;-) – Arjan Dec 12 '10 at 17:46
But still: same bear, same girl! – Arjan Dec 12 '10 at 17:48
@Arjan good point! And is that a Bong in the background? I'm not sure. Maybe she's more adventurous than she is letting on. – Pëkka Dec 12 '10 at 17:48
Too bad I cannot identify the pictures on the wall! – Arjan Dec 12 '10 at 17:53
I'm sorry, but she sounds like she has serious baggage. I'd wait for someone better. – Mark Henderson Dec 12 '10 at 21:20
I had a couple of similar such missives, but since my email address is in my profile, it doesn't take a lot of effort to find a way to contact me. I've also had some genuine contacts from SO people - but that's why I put my email in my profile (so people can contact me if need so be). So far, it has not been abused (by SO members). – Jonathan Leffler Dec 13 '10 at 5:38

I have been before about some projects I keep in my profile page, but that's about it.

It would really depend on the content of the message on if I would respond. If its actually about the question I would either ignore it or tell them to leave it in a comment. If its about a tangibly related subject that would most likely be spam to the question, I would respond.

Either way I would try googling your Email address to see if you get any hits. You might find out that you actually did share it in plain text

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