Penny Auctions: Are You Complying With CAN-SPAM? – Fake HR Job E-mails Point to Penny Auction

Attention Penny Auction Businesses: Are you running a penny auction site and sending out marketing e-mails?

If so, you should know that failure to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act could result in up to $16,000 in penalties for each law violation. Make sure you know the CAN-SPAM Act and are in compliance.

Watch the following new video from the Federal Trade Commission that includes a seven-point checklist for sending commercial e-mail messages:

Here’s a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.”- from The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business.

Let’s take a look at a few e-mails I’ve received: 

First, this one is from what appears to be an affiliate promoting the penny auction site Does this e-mail comply with the Can-Spam Act?
1. The from line, notice how it says they’re, “Overstock Auctions” – Does this accurately portray who the sender is? Don’t think so. Does zBiddy even have “Overstocked auctions?” Do any penny auction sites really sell warehouse closeouts and overstock merchandise? I haven’t seen it.
2. Considering many penny auctions promote themselves this way, we should ask, is it possible to get an iPad for $17.57? Sure, but that means 1,757 bids were placed. The winner could have spent $400 + 17.57, to say they only paid under $20 is definitely a marketing ploy – yet this is what
catches the consumer’s eye. Is it accurate?
3. It’s obvious that the e-mail is an ad – the FTC says there is leeway here, but are they clearly disclosing that the e-mail is an advertisement?
4. Does it say how I can opt out? Yes
5. Does it say where the sender & business is located? Yes
6. Is Meaningful Help honoring opt-out request promptly – I’d assume so, but can’t be sure.
7. This one is important, considering how penny auctions have invited affiliate marketers, some who don’t comply with the law.

Now that one up above isn’t so bad- the “Overstocked Auctions” in the from field appears to be a violation, but have you seen anything that beats this one:

This next one is from “TrustedUpdates,” the name is a bit ironic, in my opinion, because Trusted Updates is responsible for sending me dozens of e-mails which would indicate to me that they are not to be trusted. Dozens of e-mails from HR, Human Resources, HR Manager, Immediate Placement and so on fill my inbox. These e-mails tell me that I’ve been hired, I’ve been approved, my resume has been selected, and Help Wanted: $45/hr, $225/day typing work from home, 27 positions left paying $500/day, among others.
Did I send anyone my resume? Nope.
Maybe someone who has recently sent in resumes would fall for this scam, at least at first glance, but I haven’t really even opened these e-mails, nor have I clicked on the links inside, until now.
Now, I’m pretty surprised and disgusted actually, to see that this is how affiliate marketers are promoting penny auction sites. Yes, penny auctions are even in those HR e-mails.

Here it is:
Immediate Placement HR Trusted Updates

From: “Immediate Placement” (
Subject: “27 positions left paying $500/day”
Amanda There are still positions available!But you have to act fast.You can make up to $500/day.Get your spot while they last: 228 Park Ave S # 36185 New York NY 10003 US’
There was a link to unsubscribe and it worked, but in another penny auction e-mail the link was dead. 

When I click on that link from my e-mail it forwards to, a penny auction site.

Watch the screen capture video of this:
Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Really – there are some positions available for me, and I could be immediately placed in a job if I follow their link to “get my spot while they last.” I can make up to $500/day? Yet the link brings me to a penny auction site?

This e-mail, in my opinion, is nothing short of deceptive and violates CAN-SPAM.

Do people fall for unsolicited e-mails regarding job offers?

You bet. Take a look at these e-mails from someone I know personally who fell for a job offer e-mail from “Fabia Art Ltd. – Ann Mills”


Is this some kind of money laundering scam?

thank you for your ineterest in our company. 

For the most part what the job requires is for someone to be available Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 am. Once the funds enter your account, your supervisor will notify you and assign you your tasks for the day. At this point you would go to your bank, withdraw the funds and transfer them using Western Union or Money Gram, as instructed by your supervisor. 

In the beginning you will only receive 2 to 3 transactions per week. 

We NEVER ask our emloyees for money! 

Have a nice weekend! 

Best Regards, 

Ann Mills
Phone: 1-518-203-3132
Fax: 1-585-410-6049 "

And then the e-mail that was sent to me: 


What do you think of these spam e-mails? Have you received similar?

For more information on running a penny auction business, join our forum!

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7 comments… add one
  • marcello July 18, 2011, 5:21 am


    Thanks for picking this up, we were not aware that one or more of our affiliates were running this type of campaigns and we’re busy investigating this matter, all our approved emails and campaigns have an unsubscribe link and a physical address to unsubscribe from, that someone would be doing this type of campaigns without our knowledge is completely against our agreement with the affiliates and the affiliate networks, but having such a wide array of affiliates in our network we’re not always able to find fraudsters in time.

    thanks again to Pennyauctionwatch for reporting the issue, if any user finds or receives offers that are not clear, deceptive or against the CAN-SPAM feel free to email us at so that we can stop those campaigns immediately.

    Best regards

    The BidRivals team

    • Amanda July 18, 2011, 6:00 pm

      Thanks Marcello

  • david October 24, 2012, 4:52 pm

    meaningful help keep sending me spam. have opted out 4 times in the last month or so, really annoying

  • Chris November 13, 2012, 10:59 am

    I’ve been trying to unsubscribe from meaningful help for weeks. The scumbags keep spamming me, and even when I add their unsolicited scumbag mail to my junk folder, their unsolicited scumbag mail still finds its way into my inbox.

    I am absolutely sick of their scumbag activities invading my privacy, I’m almost to the point of alerting factions of the hacking community so they can do whatever they like to the network and mail server operated by meaningful help. Actually, I’d like the scumbag CEO of meaningful help to be shot in the face by a crackhead. Seriously, I am sick of their crap!!

  • Ian November 21, 2012, 8:08 am

    I’m getting several emails a day from companies who have had my details from Meaningful Help, none of which am I remotely interested in.I have opted out 6 times over the past two months and am seriously pissed off with them. They have no email address to reply to and I’m blowed if I’m phoning the States from the UK to try and sort it out.

  • Graham November 22, 2012, 11:59 am

    Same issue with MEANINGFUL LIFE – since unsuscribing, spam e-mail volume has multiplied!

    Anyone living in Great Falls, Montana who is reading and wants to help others, please pay them a visit in person!

  • cindy December 5, 2012, 7:54 am

    I found this because I was looking for any advice on getting rid of the constant ‘meaningful help’ spam. They are clearly breaking every regulation because attempting to unsubscribe just sets you up to get more spam.


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