Spamtraps - A.K.A. Honeypots

A spam trap is actually a very simple thing. It’s just an email address. If it’s a “re-used” or “recycled” spam trap, it may have started out as some real person’s actual email address. At some point the person either closed their email account or abandoned the email account. The ISP tracked noted that the account had been idle or closed, then, after a period of time, started sending hard bounce notifications to anyone who mailed to it.

Just how long an address has to sit idle and then send hard bounce warnings before it is used as a spam trap is a secret known only to the ISP. But at some point after sending hard bounce warnings, whether it’s a month or a year, the email address is converted into a spam trap. Anyone who mails to it after that change is in trouble. The whole process of converting a regular email address from an actual account into a spam trap is called, chillingly enough, “gravestoning."

Spam Traps come in two different varieties:

  1. Pure, Pristine, True Spamtraps (Honeypots): Email address that were created from scratch by the ISP or by an anti-spam entity. Those anti-spam entities can be blacklists like Spamhaus and Spamcop, 3rd Party Filters like Cloudmark, or even a mailbox provider.

  2. Recycled Traps: Those email accounts that have abandoned, and no longer used. ISPs and Blacklist Companies will use these accounts and will block you if emails are being sent to them. Their justification is that if they aren't active anymore, then they should not still be receiving email.

To learn more about spamtraps and how to avoid them - view the blog article How To Conquer the Dreaded Spam Trap