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Stopping spam emails to users

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:33 pm
by davethecat
I am hoping for some advice, as to what we might do to prevent a user sending spam emails to other users via the forum.

We have run our phpBB board for a few years and never had this happen before, but in the last few days we've had a problem with a user sending spam emails to other users through the forum. Private messaging is disabled, email addresses are hidden, but we do allow emails to be sent via the board.

When we first became aware of these spam emails, we banned their account, and their (gmail) email address and their IP address (from the Ukraine), and also blocked their IP address at our own firewall. They then re-registered using a very slightly different gmail address, and started again with sending spam emails - so we again banned & blocked as we did with their first account (this time the IP address was Poland). They then registered again with yet another gmail and started sending spam again to users - again we have banned & blocked as before (the IP address this time is in Russia). We know its the same person/organisation because the gmail email addresses are just one character different each time.

We tried disabling the option for users to email via the board at all - but that stopped users being able to email admins too, and also took away a useful facility that genuine users like to have. So at the moment we are back allowing users to contact each other via the board - but are fully expecting this spamming person to start with a fourth account!

Is this just something we have to live with until they get fed up of being banned, or is there something else we can do?

Thanks for any advice!

Re: Stopping spam emails to users

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:41 pm
by GanstaZ
Depends on how easy it is to become a member on your site. If you use Q&A plugin & newly registered user group & permission is set to can't send any sort of e-mails, then all should be good.

Re: Stopping spam emails to users

Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:36 pm
by KevC
In addition to stopping spam registrations mentioned above...

You could use the auto groups extension ... to_groups/

Set membership for posts less than, say, 5 and set that group so it has a never permission for the ability to send email.
Then users will have to post 5 times before they can mail. Spammers won't bother doing that.

Re: Stopping spam emails to users

Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:34 pm
by stevemaury
Or, activate the Newly registered users group by setting the New member post limit to 1 and don't approve the first post.

Or, since you know the gmail address pattern, set Authentication to By admin and don't activate the account.

Re: Stopping spam emails to users

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:37 am
by davethecat
Thanks for your help!

I think our main issue is that we haven't set up a Newly Registered Users group, we currently have it set that new users go straight into the "Registered Users" group. Thanks for those other ideas too, all good, we'll have a discuss this end and decide which route to go down.

Thankfully, since we banned the third of the spammers accounts they haven't bothered again, so maybe we put them off already. But we will sort something out from your suggestions, so that it doesn't happen again.

Much appreciated!

Re: Stopping spam emails to users

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:49 pm
by stevemaury
There is no "setting up". In Registration settings, set the New member post limit to 1. Thereafter, all users will be in both NRU and Registered users until you approve the first post, at which time they will be removed from NRU and remain in Registered users.

Banning IPs and emails is a waste of time and resources and is ineffective.