Of all people out there, I’m a quite vocal opponent of spamming – that is, unsolicited emails usually advertising some product or other. I know this problem won’t go away anytime soon. Indeed, almost every day I spend 30 minutes to an hour cleaning out literally thousands of spam messages from dozens of inboxes, so obviously I don’t consider this fun.

Recently a small non-profit association I’ve helped out in the past contacted me with an interesting problem – they were unable to send messages to Cogeco users. A bit of research revealed that their SMTP server was on an IP address blocked by SORBS, a DNS blacklist service that a number of ISPs apparently use when determining what messages may or may not be spam.

Further research revealed that this non-profit was using a shared server from a US-based hosting service. The IP address in question supported at least a few dozen different sites owened by different people – standard shared hosting fare. Okay, nothing unusual, so I started looking into getting the IP address removed, since the non-profit was not a spammer and this was hampering their ability to contact members of their association.

Imagine my surprise when I discover this delisting process:

” The effected IPs (the ones used to send the spam) will only be delisted when US$50 is donated to a SORBS nominated charity or good cause. The charities and good causes SORBS approves will not have any connection with any member of the SORBS administrators either past or present. ”

Now, this immediately disturbed me, so I did a google search for the definition of ‘extortion’ and came up with this. “Extortion is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person obtains money, behaviour, or other goods and/or services from another by wrongfully threatening or inflicting harm to his person, reputation, or property. Euphemistically, refraining from doing harm is sometimes called “protection”.”

Now, some people online have argued that it isn’t exactly extortion because SORBS isn’t actually blocking your emails; rather, it’s the particular ISPs that decide to use SORBS as a guideline for mail-blocking.

This, to me, is bullshit. If extortion does include the reputation element, then SORBS is definitely damaging your reputation by implying you are a spammer, and then requiring you to pay money in order to remove the spot on your reputation. The fact that SORBS doesn’t get the money is irrelevant. This is a bit like the mob not trashing your business so long as you support a political party they approve of, or some other thing. What if for whatever reason you disagree with the SORBS-handpicked charities?

In addition, this particular blacklist service is totally unfair to small organizations and individuals who can’t afford dedicated servers of their own. Most teenagers, and probably a lot of adults, run websites totally out of a sense of community, and if they’re unable to use some of the resources of their website such as the SMTP server because of some asshole spammer using shared space, it’s hardly their fault. The same applies to the masses of computer-illiterates who get backdoored and zombified for the purposes of spam – sure, they’re hard on the community at large, but the problem isn’t the computer user, it’s the spammer. $50 may not be a lot of money to a big corporation but for a minimum-wage working person, that’s a quarter of a week’s wages.

To sorta sum up, I think SORBS took a good idea and a motive of protecting the community, and ran WAY too far with it. I’m sure the charities listed by SORBS are quite happy, but I doubt anyone else is. By basically extorting money in exchange for reputation, SORBS is revealing itself to be the selfish bully of the anti-spam battle, hurting anyone who happens to get in the way in its zeal to be seen as a leader in anti-spam technology and DNSBLs. To those fighting the spam battle on the ISP and hosting ends, I say fuck SORBS and use something a little more fair to the small guys caught in the crossfire.

109 thoughts on “SORBS Sucks”

  1. I have been bookmarking and doing a few things to build links and I just got a SORBS alert from a site that I was trying to contact. Now, I am puttering around doing a little of this and a little of that… I CANNOT imagine that joining a few blogs and making good comments is Spam? I checked my ip and it is blocked or ‘listed’ on two of many many possible sites… WTF?

  2. I would think Al-Qaeda would be interested in learning from them because they are basically messing up American businesses and individuals. Al-Qaeda is probably wondering why they didn’t think of attacking Americans this way. I wrote my congresswoman and told them about SORBS(God I hate them) because I think the US government is unaware what SORBS is doing to American businesses. We should get a group together and march on Washington with signs shouting SHUT SORBS DOWN SHUT SORBS DOWN! SORBS SUCKS! SORBS MUST GO! WE HATE SORBS! SORBS SUCKS SORBS SUCKS SORBS SUCKS! WE HATE SORBS! WE HATE SORBS! SHUT SORBS DOWN SHUT SORBS DOWN SHUT SORBS DOWN!

  3. There must be some way we can shut SORBS down. The United States government should go after them because they are terrorizing US citizens and companies and getting away with it. I am still shocked they are allowed to exist. It’s just mind-boggling. I might talk to my attorney and see if I can sue them for labeling me a spammer. I won’t rest until they are shut down. It’s my new mission in life.

  4. SORBS really sucks! They are nothing but scammers and they are downright rude people to deal with.

  5. I want to thank you for setting this up for comments about this awful thing called SORBS. I’m wondering if we can start a campaign of some sort to shut down SORBS. They don’t care that they are hurting innocent people like myself. I still don’t see how they can get away with this. I might write my senators and tell them about SORBS and what they are doing. Can’t the attorney general step in and shut them down? This is unbelievable! I am still baffled that they are allowed to continue to operate. At long last have they not hurt enough lives?

  6. I just got blacklisted by these scammers. I am unemployed and need to respond to employers now I can’t. Instead of blocking an innocent person like me, I wish they would block the hundreds of spam that hits my email each day. How can they legally do this? What a scam!!!!!! I hate these jerks!!!! I wish something could be done about them. I don’t see how they can get away with doing this.

  7. my company is now dealing with this SORBS problem as well. we’ve been blacklisted for about a month and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna stop anytime soon. I’m guessing earthlink still uses them because I got a bounceback today from earthlink from one of my users. this is very frustrating for me since everyone here already thinks the IT department is full of idiots because the company wouldn’t spring for real anti-virus. Since our blacklist problems(we’ve been de-listed from everything but SORBS), we’ve cleaned the machine that was infected and even talked the company into buying real antivirus software(we’ve been using the free shit)…buuuut, although no spam is leaving our network, we’re still on the list. nice little extortion scheme he has going there…and i have a feeling my company will pay the “fine”. i really hope this asshole gets busted.


    1. we are on the same boat, I am wondering why many ISPs still use this sucks SORBS service.

  8. I’ll check this space often to see if there is any initiative against SORBS that I could participate in. I’m currently in talks with the one and only company affected by the SORBS block against my email host. I hope to persuade them to drop this “service.”

    Could a volunteer non-profit Email blocking service be created that blocks SORBS itself?

  9. We were recently added to SORBS blocklist, by some company we’ve never heard of.
    According to SORBS it was a manual submission, and our spam count is “1”.

    After going through their site, it appears the easy way to get delisted is to “donate” to Joey McNicol Legal Defense Fund.

    This fund was setup to defend against people filing lasuits on SORBS or it’s affiliates for unwarranted blacklisting of email domains. It seems this “trust” which was settled for $2.00, is basically a funnel of money for SORBS and it’s affiliates LAWYERS !

    The more they get sued, the more money they are able to tap from this fund !

    It seems like a no brainer that they would allow people to manually sumit anyone they choose, increasing the chances of more lawsuits…’s a nice racket they got going on.

    We are not on any other blocklist, and i’ve found hundreds of forums where others have the same exact problem with SORBS.

    I’ve instructed all of our business units and partners not to use SORBS, or they will not be able to send or recieve e-mail to our company. If I pay the $50 bucks, what’s to say it won’t just happen again and again and again !???

    Our company has nothing to do with e-mail, and we don’t do “mass mailings” or commercial email of any sort.

    We refuse to be extorted.

    If you agree that this is extortion then don’t use SORBS….because it could happen to you too whether you use it or not.

  10. Yes, SORBS is terrible. They have blocked my server 3 times without any legitimate call to.

    I run a very tight, and secure server. All the sites on it are mine.

    SORBS is listing my server’s IP even though it has nothing to do with the the listing. Blindly blocking a range of over 200 IP’s is just plain lazy and stupid.

    I’ve never had a single issue with any other blocklist in 5 years. People just need to stop using lazy lists who block ranges.

    For me, false positives are far worse than false negatives. I’d rather simply delete the occasional spam than miss important mail. Jackasses like Matthew Sullivan needlessly ruin email deliver-ability.


  11. SORBS is nothing but a scam. They want you
    to pay money to be delisted when they are the ones who list you in the first place. After you pay them they will just list you over and over again. No customer support and their site sucks ass. We have taken their filters off of our mail servers and I would encourage everyone to do the same. Spamhaus is much more reliable and easier to deal with and they are not a bunch of conartists like the folks at SORBS.

  12. Something interesting – It seems Michael has been selling pirated software off an internet connection provided by a university……

    Edit by Nate: Referring to these links:
    Google isux ROMS:
    The top result is a /. comment

    Google cache of ROMS directory:

    Google cache of text used when a download is attempted:

  13. Seems to be legitimate. With any luck, SORBS won’t find hosting and will be closed down, although it seems that this is purely a financial thing on MSullivan’s part. Still, where there is one there are a dozen; I’ve encountered another pretty irritating blacklist lately – UCEPROTECT – so I’ll just hope the same thing happens to them, but it seems like generally server admins still don’t understand that DNSBLs are advisory in nature and should not be used as sole determinants as to whether or not a particular message is legitimate.

  14. SORBS is out of control. They have a block of addresses listed as dynamic that my upstream provider allocated to me. They are the only listing service blocking this block. It has been over a week trying to get delisted. What a joke. The only good thing is that very few mail servers use these joker’s service. Now I see why.

    If you can. drop SORBS from your filtering. They are doing more harm than good.

  15. i got listed cause some mother fucker decided to use my ip address in helo request. What the fuck? where did they (SORBS) come come from? Just about any dumber fucker is able to make dnsbl services now days. i hope this guy he dies in some shit hole.

  16. 2009 and SORBS still sucks. They are blocking Network Solutions now! The largest and original domain provider. This guy’s arrogance knows no boundaries. Our company blocked along with millions of other customers because ONE customer sent out spam from the same ip address shared by millions. He will become a nonperson over time, until then, I educate people to make their ISP stop using SORBS or switch to an ISP who doesn’t use SORBS and let your ISP know why they are losing your business. We have to hit them in the pocket book and it will eventually trickle down to this arrogant SOB being no longer used by anyone.

  17. I agree and they really sucks.. If anyone is using SORBS then remove it from the listing; it is a useless database. All other blacklistings are reasonably good and the best one is spamcop; their procedures are standard and they reasonable amount of warnings before delisting your IP address; that saves a lot of hassle.

  18. Isn’t there a way to stop SORBS. There are a 124 blacklists out there (maybe even more) and the only one my server is on is SORBS. I daupt paying $ 50,00 will get my IP address removed. And even so, when they know i’m a payer, they can get it listed in a few months and get another $ 50,00.

    The “charity case” they are collecting for is a 8 year old lawsuite that is already resolved.

    Send a email to Sorbs sponsors. Send a complaint to the Australian govornment.

    These guys suck bigtime.

  19. Sorbs, unos verdaderos piratas te bloquean tu IP sin ninguna credibilidad. Los nuevos dioses, quien es el mangante ?. Quien se lo permite?.

  20. I must be one of the lucky ones. After having my IP changed by my ISP due to technical issues I found that I was lucky enough to end up on an IP range that used to be used for Dynamic IP ranges.

    My ISP only offers Static IP addresses to users, however started to add ‘dynamic’ in the hostname of these static IP addresses of recent. Probably to entice users to pay a fee to get reverse DNS put on their connection.

    After getting my new IP I got the reverse DNS put on it, only to find a few days later after configuring my mail server that some of the messages I was sending weren’t being recieved. A quick check at a couple of blacklist sites around the internet actually showed that both Sorbs & Spamhaus had me in their blacklist for ‘supposidly’ having a Dynamic IP address.

    The removal from Spamhaus took just under half an hour, however the SORBS one took just under a week, however having used the contact form on the site, and explaining the situation to “Matthew” I had an exclusion on my IP so I was off the list.

    To those annoyed and frustrated, be patient and the system does eventually work. I may be luckier than some, but more than happy I’m now able to use my mail server without relaying through my ISP 🙂

  21. SORBS is still manned by the same morons. I tried to send a SPAM report to and got blocked because the NAT address I happened to be assigned by AOL was in the SORBS blacklist. When I followed the link in the returned report, I got to the SORBS site and entered a trouble report telling them they were blocking IP addresses randomly. I am not an IP neophyte. I spent 35 years working with computer programming in the telecommunications area. It seems obvious to me that IP addresses don’t send SPAM – it’s the user that sends the SPAM and IP addresses can be reassigned, but here is part of Joey’s last response to me, threats and all:

    Not that you would understand but we block any IP that delivers spam to
    us , the IP addresses in question here provide plenty of that to remain
    listed for a very long time.

    If you dont already get it by now , this is not your problem to discuss
    with SORBS , you are not the registered owner of the listed IP address/s
    and you have no authority to request anything on behalf of AOL or Yahoo
    , but you are welcome to contact them to ask their permission to act on
    their behalf.
    Any further rubbish from you and you will be reported to their abuse
    dept and not being able to use AOL will be the least of your problems.

    Joey ( SORBS Volunteer )
    Western Australia.

  22. My mail server got listed in their db recently and the below is their reply. very amateurish don’t u think?

    That is some administration you have operating there , it’s taken you 6 months to contact us? heh!

    Joey ( SORBS Volunteer )
    Western Australia.

    .. not to mention it took them almost a week to reply.

  23. yeah 3 years of comment, wow!

    yes we also got a message from “Matti Meikäläinen”. Interesting that the “big guy” himself answers the mails and calls himself “Freiwilliger” (german for volunteer) – no more real volunteers there anymore to help him with his criminal exploits??

    We are a small firm of experts on car accidents and we mostly compose expertises – and of course sending a lot of these via email to our customers – we live on these!. But thanks to SORBS we no longer can sent them to one of our bigger customers… And mind: our email adress is based at one of the biggest freemailers in Germany ( no spammer!

    I wrote to SORBS, and I never got a more arrogant reply than from this f—ing Matthew. He hinted that our ISP could go throu the unlisting process – i called them und of course they already knew the problem und said the they will never comply with the SORBS procedure as SORBS is very suspect to them. The only help would be, that we ask our customer, to ask in turn his ISP to no longer use SORB-Lists…

    And if you want to have a real laugh: go to the sponsors-page on the SORBS-site, look bottom of page to the credits, there you find the following: “Vernon (DCC) for reminding the original author that you should not fight abuse with abuse.”

    Hey Vernon you really didn`t get through that time… please please do it again (and again)… maybe S–kin Sullivan will learn it in time…

  24. My company recently contacted SORBS about their BL activities. Matthew Sullivan is answering support emails using the pseudonym “Matti Meikäläinen”.
    He thinks he is really smart but you can tell by the sentence length and construction that its Matthew responding.
    SORBS can’t be much longer for this world without volunteers.
    It makes you wonder why he continues with such a sad charade?
    I was surprised to see that so few companies are now using SORBS, the last time (2003) we had to deal with these clowns it was much higher.

  25. I only recently joined the “I hate SORBS club” after being blacklisted. I’m curious, does anyone actively have a handle on which organiztions and ISP’s are filtering based on SORBS? And more importantly which ones ARE NOT. It’s pretty clear that the only way to fight these guys is to cutoff there funding. Refuse to pay them and take your business somewhere else. Find and ISP that does not subscribe to and filter based on information that they provide. Better yet find an ISP that vocally disagrees with there methods. Check out their sponsors list as well ( It’s hard to believe Sun Microsystems is at the top of the list. My one and only contact attempt directly with SORBS follows:

    I have reviewed your removal requirements and despite the fact that your request a $50.00 fine to be paid to you I am requesting that you remove the IP address n.n.n.n from your blocked list immediately. Given that you have expressed a zero tolerance policy I will not elaborate on the that reason our server was compromised, but suffice to say that it was due to a previously undetected vulnerability and not due to negligence or malice. The lack of historical complaints speaks to this fact. Your organization exists for one reason. Subscribers find value in the information that they receive from you. Your authority is by proxy through the ISPs that force their policies on their users. Larger customers that run into this wall will take their business elsewhere. If you continue with this zero tolerance policy the smaller customers will eventually get tired of having their messages blocked from correspondents that they consider valid or even finding themselves up against this policy being deemed a spammer and being fined by you. In the explanation of your policy I find the traffic violation / speeding ticket analogy removed from reality. Is zero tolerance called for when dealing with drug or firearm offenses? Perhaps, but for speeding tickets, definitely not, and that is why this is clearly not the case. If it were we would not have a court system where we have the opportunity to present our case with the charges sometimes being dismissed.

    I applaud your determination to clean up the system, but this is the real world where problems happen to even the most diligent, best intentioned, and perhaps even you. Your methods are extortionistic. I’m getting off of my soapbox now. I suggest that you do the same. Do the right thing and remove our IP address from your blocked list.

  26. I have a dedicated server at (Formerly EV1). This server is used for mail/website hosting for my clients which are all local small businesses who do not SPAM. After setting up the server, I found the IP was listed at SORBS. I contacted Support & I explained that the IP they assigned to my server must have been used by a spammer & is listed in SORBS. gave me a net set of IP’s. Those were listed too at SORBS! So I began the delisting process at SORBS. They had me make the required donations, which I did ($300! – I have 6 IP’s). Then refused to de-list my IP’s. The arrogant staff at SORBS finally got back to me after 2 1/2 weeks & told me that they listed the entire range of IP’s owned by & that will not comply with their delisting process. I guess that means that ThePlanet will not pay them off…

    If you are a Server Admin or ISP & use SORBS to block spam, I don’t know who is dumber, You or SORBS. You are supporting a group of thieves & you probably don’t get a lot of legitimate mail.

  27. Some time ago I also had a problem with SORBS. They blocked an IP address from my ISP and I happened to send mail emanating from this IP address to my members who pay a lot of money for the information that I collect for them. And suddenly some pests like SORBS decided I could no longer do my job.
    When I contacted them by e-mail I received an answer that was so arrogant. I had never come across such arrogance in my life. They really think they’re God.

  28. Count me in to the list of innocent people on the blacklist, via my regular private email address. I filled out that form to get my email addy removed from the list-it’s a little confusing, and God help people with vision problems with that confirmation code-and I wasn’t asked for a “donation”. Maybe when they respond to my request they’ll ask for a “donation”. If they do, I’ll tell them where they can put their “donation”. I also emailed my service provider to tell them about this problem and see what they can tell me.

  29. We look after IT for quite a few customers and have had no end of trouble with sorbs. The customer IP of the mail server gets listed, can sometimes get around it by relaying through the ISP’s smart host. Sometimes that gets blacklisted causing major grief and a flood of calls to the helpdesk.

    I can’t believe ISP’s/other MTA’s are using this one list purely as an allow/deny smtp connection. We use RBL in an attempt to cut down spam, but do not solely rely on one list – instead we have a minimum count, it greatly reduces false positives like this for not much if any increase in spam levels.
    The sooner ISP’s/other receiving mail servers start doing this the better. Sorbs is rubbish.

  30. I find their website terribly difficult to use – sorbs / sorbes is are unhelpful and teh fee to be delisted is unacceptable. If they contacted us directly asking the ISP for an explanation and what they have done about the spam. perhaps putting in some effort would be cause reason to believe that they are legit and worth the $50. I personally will not pay that amount because it’s easy money for them to list us again and seen that we pay – they want us to be a return customers. ISP should wake up and use legit lists like spamhaus, spamcop etc. if people are in this for the money – then the motives will not be to right. They should perish indeed.

  31. Sorbs is just full of s…. I have paid them about $600 in the last few months, they keep blocking my ips for no reason at all.
    We are Bonded Certified, hebeas certified and run a double opt in list.
    We mail our members newsletters 2 times a week, still they keep blacklisting our IP’s.
    its good i came accross this blog.
    These people have made a new business and yes when you make the payment via paypal it says “Non-U.S. Verified Business Member”.
    There is no way to chec on them if these funds they are collecting are for good cause or spending in a TITTI BAR.
    Well anyone interested in a class action law suit against them pls contact me.

  32. I’ve been dealing with a SORBS issue for most of this afternoon, evening and early morning now. Basically I use Verizon DSL and one of their IP servers that I route through is now on the SORBS black list. I have a system admin background (22+ years with a lot of IP/web system setup experience) and it was painful digging through the layers of Verizon front-line tech staff to get close to the real system admin people. I can’t imagine what people are doing out there who (as a previous poster said), understand plumbing but nothing about web stuff.

    Add my name to any class action activity someone wants to take. Something really needs to be done here. This is beyond the point of fair and reasonable. Like others, I believe now this has hurt my business since I was relying heavily on e-mail delivery to market to my customers.

    Dan, I don’t know what we can do until the ISPs get to the point where they understand the magnitude of this problem. If anyone has contacts with a major journalistic outlet (CNN, FOX, etc.), I don’t know what we can do. I will see if I can find a way to reach someone like 20/20 to do a program on the problem. But really the problem lies with unsuspecting ISPs that continue to use SORBS as their blacklist filter.

  33. OK … I posted above on May 16th, 2007. Since then, our situation with SORBS has gotten worse. However, this is what we have found out so far.

    1. We have a close contact with the FBI’s Cyber Crimes Division as we work very closely with them. They, themselves, have had issues relating with SORBS and have had little success with meaningful communications. We are trying to make a case for International Extortion base on our stream of communications with the SORBS “team” but it is doubtful it will fly.
    2. No one is forcing Mail Server Administrators to use SORBS so they are most likely immune to any class actions or individual suits
    3. Unless someone in Australia, with some sort of jurisdiction, goes after them, the rest of us may be out of luck.
    4. So …. I believe the only recourse it to come up with a strong way of discrediting them, world-wide. I have been trying to find forums to do this with no success. Any Ideas?

  34. We have recently added a new company and just finished setting up a new server. When we first tried to send email. What did you know, it was already listed.We need to do something about this extortion.

  35. It really is blackmail. We run an online webmail service, and had someone sign up with stolen credit cards, and send out spam.

    We immediately caught them, and terminated the account, but not before SORBS decided to blacklist us.

    So, in order to stay in business, I now have to “donate” $50 to some unknown person’s paypal account? Sure you can donate to your own charity, but SORBS has to agree with you. If you want quick delisting, you HAVE to pay this Joey McNicol.

    Look up blackmail in the dictionary. It sure sounds like what SORBS is doing.

  36. Yes we need to do a class action lawsuit, My comapny has lost $ because clients cant email me and I am not receving emails from clients or products that I have purchased. There must be consequences for there actions. They smiple do ip blocks now rather than going after the true spammers. This is affecting all bussniess alike. I am in for a class action lawsuit against them.

  37. god I hope somebody wipes out SORBS. here is the list of complaints I sent them. If we work together we can beat SORBS…

    I wish to complain that this is grossly unfair.
    1)Whilst I recognise that people have a responsibility to TRY to secure their own machines, I do not think that they have an obilgation to you or anyone else.
    2) From where do you draw the authority to act as some sort of regulator of the web? Who has given you this task and what gives you any right to block my legitimate usage of the web even IF somebody else has illegally taken over my machine.
    3) you claim the responsibility to secure the internet resides in each computer owner. The reason these machine can be exploited so easily is because, as you know, massive corporation like microsoft release inferior software with lots of security holes. You are transferring responsibility for their ineptitude away from the corporations who cause the problem onto the user and saying we have ot pay for their incompetence. If you fined microsoft $50 instead of me you would get a better result as it would cost them billions and they would have to take more care to release secure software. however as we both know you would not have any legal ability to do this. So istead of going after the culprit you have decided to pick on the ‘little guy’ who does not have the technical or legal ability to stop you
    4) Spammers employ computer wizzes who will always be one (very large) step ahead of simple users like me and 99% of people who use the web. Thus we will always have these people infecting our machines. Implying, as you have done, that anyone who uses the web has a responsibility to be an expert in securing their machine is impractical and not realistic.
    5) You have set the ‘fine’ at a level which has obviously been decided with an american audience in mind. What about the rest of the world. Where I live at the moment most people are lucky of they EARN $50 IN ONE MONTH!!! I work for a charity that provides HIV education in BurkinaFaso, West Africa ( and $50 will pay for us to educate about 200 people in the dangers of HIV.$50 is a lot of money for us.
    6) SORBS seems like a scam to get people to send $50. Nobody in their right mind will pay a company that they have never heard of to do what you are doing. It seem illegal as well as wrong.
    You are saying spam slows the internet and help hackers from breaking down computers, but you have blocked me also. How are you any different from the spam that clogs p the internet? You are also stopping my usage of the internet, in the interests of protecting big business WHO DO NOT OWN THE WEB. We all own to the web, not you, not microsoft, not goldman sachs or the other ‘big banks’ that you are so worried about.
    7) If you continue to block everyone and they refuse to pay your mafia-like extortion fine then we will end up with you having blocked most of the ordinary people who is the net rendering it useless apart from big business.
    8) There is no way I afford your fine, or would agree to pay it if I could afford it. So thats me finished for the internet for the rest of this computers life is it?
    9) Go after the spammers, not the users. Its like prosecuting people who, by leaving their front door open, have allowed a group of armed bandits to set up in their house and use it as a base to attack people form the street. Silly to leave the front door open but you can;t be held accountable for the knock on effects
    10) You are blocking me from contacting my collegues. You have no right, legally or morally to obstruct my charity, or anyone elses business.
    11) You liken it to a speed camera and not knowing the limit. legally if you are prosectued for speeding it is because the law of that country recognises it is a crime to exceed said speed limit. To my knowledge there is no law anywhere in the world that says I have a responsibility to secure my computer, and thus I am free to leave it unsecured if I do not have the time, money or skills to secure it.

  38. Wow, great list of complaints here.

    I agree, mail server administrators take note! Don’t use the SORBS block list! There’s plent y of evidence here, and elsewhere that it’s a worthless list.

  39. Sorbs seem to be the biggest mob of incompetent fools..Many people are considering banding together to take mass legal action..

  40. For months now, I have been suffering the scorn of SORBS when I attempt to send e-mail with an MS Word, or Excel file attached, using my account. It doesn’t happen with anything else for some reason. I run McAfee firewall and antivirus, and update almost daily, have done several deep scans and found NO viruses or worms. I believe that SORBS is actually populated by spammers who masquerade as “white knights,” trying to work both ends of the problem for their own gain. The arrogant attitude of those who respond to my e-mail at SORBS is nothing short of breath-taking. They are NOT out to help, but to scam. If they actually wanted to help, they would assure that regular users like me would have access to communication contacts with the ISPs they have blacklisted. I have contacted bellsouth to no avail. They only acknowledged receipt of my message, but have never responded. If there is a way to reign in these loose cannons at SORBS, I’d love to be a part of getting them stopped!

  41. I use Comcast as my SMTP. I run a small business at home and now have been halted by SORBS for my international emails to Turkey to an ISP called Superonline. SORBS has identified my Comcast dynamic IP as a spammer and I no longer can email my friends and business associates on Superonline. I detest the $50 fine they impose and refuse to pay it. It’s the subscribing ISP’s responsibility to throttle the uncontrolled actions of this gestapo SORBS.
    If anyone has any suggestions on how to stop this corruption, please post here or let me know.

  42. Actually Earthlink has started using a the SORBS list. Our IP block was recently added to the SORBS list as a “Dynamic IP address” .. last I checked the mere fact that we have more than one IP address negates the whole “Dynamic” issue. Dunno .. just a heads up, Earthlink is now using SORBS.

  43. My ISP’s mail server got blacklisted by SORBS recently. I followed the link in the bounce message and read all their information. When I got to the part about the $50 ‘fine’ I laughed out loud. Nice little racket. Add an IP address to the blacklist because of ‘spamming’ and then extort $50 from them to remove it. Rinse and repeat. Nice work if you can get it.

  44. Our server got listed with them and in 8 years has never been listed on another blacklist – When I emailed them to ask why I got a sarcastic and rude response – I can understand this maybe if I was a spammer sending hundreds of these messages out but one sole incident from a professional company’s server?
    They lost all respect from me after this and as the only domain that use SORBS that we’ve come across is I don’t think we’ll be losing sleep over the blacklist.

  45. I’ve just come across this horrid little extortion outfit, which has caused a nice bloke who just happens to administer a small network a lot of problems. As his managed service didn’t like email from one of his partners as the SMTP server uses a “dynamically assigned” IP (it was static I checked) he’s had no email from them for months, and was getting a ton of shit about it.

    SORBS is largely arbitrary and extremely ineffective, the tone of the written material on site is that of an adolescent bully. If people want to fight spam check out Spamhaus, much nicer people no nasty fines!

  46. The IP address of my WSP has appeared on SORBS list meaning that I can no longer send mails from my private email account to mail servers using SORBS list. My WSP hosts 70,000 sites!
    I checked SORBS amateurish site and to get unlisted requires payment of $50USD into some individuals trust fund (turns out the same individual runs SPEW as well). Checking other postings on this subject it turns out SORBS WHOIS info is inaccurate and the administrators are not contactable (e.g. phone is disconnected). SORBS is a racket designed to extort money from WSPs. What concerns me more is that I see private individuals buying their own .com and hosting these with companies like GoDaddy. What happens when they end up at the SORBS site? Will they have the technical knowledge to understand the pages of jargon? Or will they just unwittingly pay the $50USD into the scammers trust fund under the impression their email address has been black listed? Nice scam and sadly it is being supported by companies using SORBS service.

  47. I suddenly discovered many friends could no longer receive my e-mails. The daemon mailer failure message said I had been blacklisted for spam by SORBS. I looked into it, (they had given the date and time of the “offense”) and it was an e-mail with a pdf attachment I had sent to guy who wanted to see my greatgrandfather’s military papers. It turned out that he downloaded the file then went to delete the e-mail and accidently hit spam instead. I didn’t pay their fine. I explained the issue to them and that I would not pay their extortion and cc’d my state attorney general on the email. He was kind enough to e-mail me (and SORBS) back that since this crossed state lines maybe it should be looked into under federal racketeering laws. I didn’t pay a fine, am no longer blacklisted, and had a good laugh at SORBS’ expense.

  48. My happy little web/mail server got bitch-slapped by SORBS this week. Because I set up names for each client’s mail server use (e.g., and the reverse DNS provided by my upstream provider (Cox) resolves to, SORBS will not even respond to me.

    Funny thing is, I discovered the blacklisting because my ASSP spam filter is screwed down so tight that I told it to dump messages from domains turning up on even one RBL.

    SORBS was in the ASSP RBL list by default. After reading up on SORBS, I’ve removed them. My server isn’t a money-making operation. Nearly every domain on it is a charitable organization.

    I’ll not submit to extortion by SORBS. What I will do is contact the authors of ASSP and offer them a substantial amount of money to remove SORBS from their default configuration. I daresay a lot of people are using SORBS without even thinking about it. I was, but I won’t make that mistake again.

  49. Three years later from the original post and Sorbs still sucks. I’m filling in as the temp-postmaster and am blinded by anger after reading their policy to de-list. Who are these people anyways? Were they elected or
    are they just a group of jerks who decided to print their own money? I suggested a worthy charity that I would like to donate the money to and am very eager to see their response.

    I swear on this day to boycott any Sorbs service and will insist to any employer/peer that they adopt the same practice. We really need a grass-root movement to protest Sorbs and get them out of blacklisting space, permanently.

    also, is available.

  50. Matthew Sullivan uses SORBS to push his own RFC for how he beleives rDNS should be configured. Its the sign of an insecure geek trying to “make his mark” on the internet.

    One day, he will have his fingers broken by a helpfull Aussie – I am quite sure of it.

  51. My hosting provider (and by extension their customers, including me) have run into problems with SORBS recently as well. SORBS helpfully added two entire /17 blocks (65,000 addresses total) to their dial-up list merely on the basis of their rDNS entries, despite the fact that *all* of those addresses are used for static, dedicated hosting accounts.

    SORBS should be shut down, and any ISP stupid enough to use them should be boycotted.

  52. Important fact to note here guys; SORBS lists an IP address, not a person, business or location. If your IP address is listed, find you why.

    I had my server IP listed, I looked up why, found it was backscatter from another person’s virus infection, emailed SORBS and Hey Presto! I was unlisted.

    If it’s a valid Reason, Matt will unlist you. If you try to bully him, well, I guess you get what you pay for ($50 worth in this case).

    I run SORBS on my servers, and I’ve noticed a marked decrease in pr0n spams coming in, and with a little bit of work, I can allow in the servers that SORBS blocks until they get delisted.

  53. We have had exactly the same problem as a hosting client. I feel extortion is the only word. Im not sure this is even legal.

  54. Update! Not satisfied with GMAIL, Verizon DSL email servers are now on their list

  55. They really need to go. They now have google mail servers on their blacklist. Anyone that uses gmail can’t send messages to recipients whose ISP uses their lists. What am I as a user supposed to do about this? I am not an IT professional, but I do manage a few mailing lists for some non-profits. We use the lists as a way to communicate with each other (i.e. online board meetings, etc). Worse yet, the SORBS error message we get says the message to “” has been rejected, but doesn’t indicate which member or members of the list didn’t receive the message. As for their website, I have never seen a more arrogant attitude. I think the two pronged attack should do: (1) Notify the charities of what is going on and (2) get every ISP in the country to stop using them.

  56. I have previously used SORBS, but this was probably before this extortion scheme. I had numerous problems trying to get IP addresses de-listed but there attitude was pretty much they didn’t give a shit that legitimate emails were being blocked or mis marked as spam.

    Needless to say in any email system I administered I removed SORBS simply because the false positive rate was horrendous.

  57. I have been quite surprised that SORBS included a net block like in their DUL. Such a subnetwork does not exist at RIPE, who reports a larger assigned to Telecom Italia Net. The addition on SORBS is dated November 11 2006, I don’t think the subnetting has been changed more recently because I know of one address that has been in use before. The blocked range includes ip address of both “static” and “dynamic” tags, according with Matthew Sullivan’s proposed rDNS naming scheme. (I have requested de-listing of a “static” address, and after 48 hours nothing has happened.)

    I’d be really curious to know how that block has been added in the first place. How did they pick up that otherwise unexisting range? Dices?

  58. A year ago we were falsely accused of being a spammer. Our hosting company ( agreeing that we had a sterling reputation, and moved us to another mail server. No problem for a year. Now SORBS comes back to datapipe holding their original mail server hostage. Datapipe has yielded to the kidnapping and will keep us on board for as long as they can, we are forced to look for another host. No due process, no way to defend. Very unAmerican. Anyone that can help a small company defend itself would be appreciated.

  59. I can’t believe that people use Sorbs to blacklist. I hope people wise up and start ignoring these obvious extortionists.

    SORB sucks. What a stupid business model. They cause grief to innocents on the pretext of performing good. Don’t they realize how many people use shared servers? Stupid piece of crap company.

  60. We are a non profit Presbyterian church in Berkeley Ca. We have our own exchange server and we only send out our information email to people on our membership list but that seemed to be enough to get one of our DNS addresses listed on SORBS.

    I have two ticket ID numbers for delisting with them that was sent to me in an automatic response email and I have not even gotten far enough in their system where they are trying to bribe me with a donation yet.

    My question is …. Has anyone managed to get delisted form SORBS without having to make their donation ? If so … How did you do it ?

  61. I own a plumbing company and page the service calls via a third party software through the internet. For the past month I haven’t been able to page the calls because of this SORBS issue. I can’t seem to get help from anybody about this. The BS emails I receive are from a “Robot”. Is there anybody out there who can help me. I know plumbing…I don’t know IP issues so this is an ongoing nightmare for me!
    WHY has this company not been shut down if this EXTORTION is going on? Anybody up for a class action lawsuit? PLEASE let me know. I’m first in line!

  62. My ISP uses SORBS. It’s very evident to me SORBS is broken and anyone who uses it after reading all there is on the web regarding it, lack a major clue. It’s unfortunate.. but I guess time will tell, won’t it? In the mean time, stay away from SORBS.

  63. I operate one of the most aggressively anti-spam IPS’s in the US. We have a zero spam tolerance and generally shut down accounts that are being exploited by spammers (or, far more rarely, accounts that are being deliberately used to spam) within minutes, or, at most, hours. Because of our aggressive anti-spam stance and tools, we had not even heard of SORBS until we had been in business for 9 years. A spammer took over a client’s PC for a grand total of 45 minutes, at which point we shut them down. Apparently one of the spammer’s emails got relayed to a spamtrap address that is feeding SORBS RBL. That was enough to get our servers blacklisted. Once I found out about SORBS pathetic extortion racket, I refused to pay them, and, instead have gone on a campaign with all recipient servers that are using SORBS, as I encounter them. If SORBS intent was to just block spam, they would routinely remove “stale” entries from their database (as other reliable RBL’s do) and/or provide a free link to appeal the block. In short, any system administrator who relies upon SORBS knowing how they operate, is mentally challenged.

  64. I agree completely. We operate a modestly successful hosting company. My first experience with SORBS was when one of our servers had its IP listed by the SORBS database. Amazingly, I was able to reach the propietor of SORBS (Matthew Sullivan) by email almost instantly. I immediately brought up the issue of how his “$50.00 donation” methodology paralells the concept of extortion. His response of course was that I couldn’t possibly be more wrong and that future replies to his email address would go to a SORBS/anti-spam newsgroup, which he implied would result my personal email addresses’ IP would be available for members of the newsgroup…. and sure enough another yokel emails me (aparantly one Sullivan’s lackeys) and informs me that he’s going to add my IP address to his block list, too. I was more amused than upset at the time.

    Well after this personal interaction with SORBS, we put up a notice on our corporate site informing clients what to do if their IP got listed and I also included my own personal comments concerning Matthew Sullivan. These comments were online for roughly a year before we received a notice via Mr. Sullivan informing us that our comments were slanderous and libelous…. He completely denied any communication with me personally, denied that he listed my personal IP on his blocklist and denied including my emails to him in the newsgroup (yet I still have the original email he sent, including his own IP address AND his original posting is still in the newsgroup’s archives, so the kid isn’t very bright.) Well because we didn’t feel like getting involved in a legal dispute with Mr. Sullivan, we changed the SORBS notice) to something more politically correct and likewise substantiated our comments with a link to Wikipedia which supports the SORBS controversy and the association that SORBS is indeed considered to be an extortion racket.

    I’m sure we’re not the first hosting company to receive his litigious emails, denials, and threats in an attempt to get people to remove negative comments concerning SORBS. It’s my understanding that Sullivan is currently engaged in making SORBS more commercially-oriented and is cooperating with several Australian IT companies… all of whom stand to lose a lot if people continue to grumble, complain, and come to the realization that SORBS really creates more harm than good, and that the founder’s judgment is just a little off-kilter.

  65. I agree with you all, and yes SORBS still sucks.
    Wisconsin here, static IP, small host normal severs dns httpd etc some specialty stuff like emergency data transmision to pagers and cell phones… yeah my bad for being a dumb ass and thinking that would work well for long with SORBS sharing space on the planet…
    Listed as a dynamic IP , this was done via the IP _block_ …even though the individual IP’s in question reverse properly and have proper TTL etc. and of course are static.
    At least no one was hurt and I have taken down the whole emergency notification system as a result…
    No responses, no good news.
    Indeed SORBS sucks as for them being down texas way let em up here first 😉
    Ohh and it seems they are under DDOS heh good.

  66. I work for a small company in Wisconsin and have had more trouble with SORBS and how they block my e-mails to my vendors. THIS IS DUMB!!! WHY??

    I think my vendors would like to hear from me and how I am going to pay them money to purchase their goods.

    SORBS BLOWS!!!!!

  67. I told SBC that if those retards don’t remove me I will switch providers. I have Statics and SORBS say I have dynamics? 2 days and no email from those bastards. Anywere to complain or take legal action? those people cant’ run a business and take a week to reply to your request..:-\

  68. Steve, that’s a pretty interesting approach. Maybe if enough people complain upstream, their hosts will provide pressure that they will actually care about. Of course, that’s a big “maybe,” but so far nothing else has seemed to have any effect. It’s worth a shot.

    Good luck!

  69. I just sent a complaint to one of their upstream providers abuse address.

    Subject: AUP Violations


    I’m writing to complain about one of your clients who may be in violation of your Acceptable Use Policy

    The host at IP may be in violation of these terms

    (General Conduct 1.)

    a) Transmitting material that is unlawful
    extortion: see

    “Third and finally, if you are really not a spammer, or you are truly reformed, de-listing is relatively easy. You donate US$50 to a charity or
    trust approved by, and not connected with, SORBS”

    b) Transmitting material that is libelous or hateful.

    553 Dynamic IP Addresses See: (in reply to RCPT TO command)

    (System and Network Security 2.)

    Effecting disruptions of Internet Communications. Your client may be releasing false information that prevents delivery of emails.

    Please take any or all corrective actions according to AUP to stop these activities.

    We have contacted the third party involved that is relying on the hateful and libelious information provided by your client thru your network.


  70. I think it is very interesting. I noticed that someone above mentioned hosting with NameSecure and how their email was being blocked. Now, my employees are being blocked TO namesecure because THEY use SORBS as a blocklist also. How do I get the word out to folks in charge of mail server that blocking based on sorbs is just a horrible idea? Is there nothing that can be done to get sorbs list shut down?

  71. Hi fellow SORBShaters
    I’m the sys admin for Friends Reunited (a popular UK website) and my hatred of SORBS know no bounds. On more than one occasion they have arbitrarily decided to list our mail server(s) as having dynamic IP addresses… As if! We send an average of a million emails a day (and have done for the past three years) – not really a good idea from some cable/dsl account! Delisting is almost impossible – it took BT a month to convince these idiots that they had got it wrong and now our main ISP (AboveNet) are having a similar bangyourheadagainstawall experience. I had no idea SORBS was trying to fleece people as well so the sooner they get shut down the better. Why not use the money they demand to hire a cyber-terrorist and ddos these fools off the net for good (only joking… or am I?)

  72. Well, I’m having to deal with these A-holes now. I handle the bounced emails for a large county library system. We use a bulk email program to send overdue and holds notices to our patrons. I know nothing about server configuration and it doesn’t look like our IS department is going to do anything about it. I started getting these SORBS messages after our IS department started using Comcastbusiness last month because we needed greater bandwidth. We are a local government agency. SORBS does suck!

    Sam is right this racket needs to be shut down!

  73. I too have been caught up in this whole SORBS racket. I run a small webhosting company, and one of my customers sites got hijacked due to an old version of a perl script he was running. The problem was detected and resolved almost immediately (half a day), but unfortunately not quick enough to avoid being listed on the SORBS database. However I refuse to pay the extortion fee, and instead have routed my mail through another server, since some of my customers were complaining of not being able to send mail to certain domains. Really, it’s about time this racket was shut down. As for money going to “charity”, I wonder if the charity involved is aware of the means by which they are receiving these funds – as far as I’m concerned, they won’t be getting money from me whether they’re a worthy recipient or not. Perhaps the way forward is to educate them about it, assuming they care and are not blinded by the $$$ coming in.

  74. I have a pretty clean email account. My machine is used strictly for business, all the virus program data bases are up to date, and we also run zone alarm. In short, I’m not a high risk candidate for virus attacks or spam generation.

    However, some low-life bureaucrat in SORBS has decided that Namesecure, who is our email host, is a spam generator, and they have actually blacklisted all or some of Namesecure’s customer base, both incoming and outgoing. Suddenly, I not only can’t send emails to any other address where the URL was originally registered by Namesecure, I can’t receive emails from anyone using a Namesecure hosted email address. What’s worse, is that SORBS has it set up so that you don’t even know when your emails are bounced until the next day and in the case of blocked incoming mail, you don’t find out at all.

    When I complained to SORBS, they responded with an insult and a copy of their usual demand to send money to their favorite charity. When I complained to Namesecure, the brutal, banal, bureaucratic drivel that came back is repeated below for your reading pleasure. A few observations;

    – SORBS is so abusive in their responses to these complaints that I have to wonder if this whole thing is really one big scam. Scam artists typically behave this way. If someone questions you, respond immediately and very aggressively. It scares people off.

    – We need to deal with this by addressing complaints, not to SORBS, but to the people who are paying them. In other words, to the ISPs and email hosts who are allowing SORBS to exist. I for one, will remove all my personal and business registrations and email hosting accounts from Namesecure’s clutches as each expires.

    – If a small group of us pooled our efforts and started investigating SORBS, and the so called charities they are supporting, I’m willing to bet we would find some interesting ownership records in common. It’s not that hard to do. All this info is available on line. Just takes time and sweat equity. Anybody interested?

    – Unilaterally terminating telecommunications services is this manner probably constitutes a restriction of interstate trade, and possibly wire fraud. Both are federal offenses. How about writing to your congressional representative?

    – Write to the “readers comments” page of as many PC magazines and newspapers as you can, outlining the problem. Eventually this will get someone’s attention.

    – Write to the FCC. They should have an interest in this. It’s their turf.

    What these people are doing smacks of criminal intent. Let’s see if we shine a light in some of their dark corners, if this nonsense can be stopped.

    Here’s a copy of Namesecure’s abusive, rude, disingenuous reply to me;


    You are solely responsible for the content of your transmissions through NameSecure’s e-mail service. You agree to comply with all applicable local, state, national and international laws and regulations regarding e-mail communications and use. You agree: (a) to comply with U.S. law regarding the transmission of technical data exported from the United States through the e-mail service; (b) not to use the e-mail service for illegal purposes; and (c) not to interfere with or disrupt networks connected to the e-mail service. Without limiting the foregoing, you agree NameSecure may terminate any e-mail account, which it believes, in its sole discretion, is transmitting or is otherwise connected with any spam or other unsolicited bulk e-mail. You agree not to transmit through the e-mail service any unlawful, harassing, libelous, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, obscene or otherwise objectionable material of any kind or nature. You further agree not to transmit any material that encourages conduct that could constitute a criminal offense, gives rise to civil liability or otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law or regulation. Attempts to gain unauthorized access to other computer systems are prohibited. You agree not to interfere with another customer’s use and enjoyment of the e-mail service or another entity’s use and enjoyment of similar services.
    You agree that NameSecure shall under no circumstances be held liable on account of any action it takes, in good faith, to restrict transmission of material that it or any user of the e-mail service considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.
    NameSecure reserves the right to take all legal and technical steps available to prevent unsolicited bulk e-mail or other unauthorized e-mail from being sent from or transmitted through the NameSecure Network.
    Your participation in online communication or use of any NameSecure service is not edited, censored or otherwise controlled by NameSecure. However, NameSecure reserves the right to monitor content on this site and any NameSecure Services and to remove content, disable sites, or suspend or terminate services if NameSecure, in its discretion, determines such content or user practices are harmful, offensive, or otherwise in violation of this Acceptable Use Policy.

  75. SORBS sucks, is unresponsive and SORBS is extortion.

    We manage email for 25,000 domains and subdomains. One of our NAT IPs is in sorbs for something that happened over a month ago. We terminate spammers (mostly 419 scammers) immediately, but thats not good enough for SORBS. They never respond.

    Cogeco uses SORBS so now I am receiving a lot of mail about the inability to send to friends and businesses. Cogeco has been contacted. They haven’t responded either. (At least they have a phone number, unlike SORBS).

    This is OK by me because I’ve just added Cogeco to our own DNSBL so we will reject all their mail. Lets see how long it takes them to respond to their own customers. We receive spam from cogeco accounts every day, but you can’t block a complete ISP for a few pieces of spam when they host thousands of account. You just have to expect they will fix it, by contacting them. If you ever get spam from us, try it – it works.

    I don’t know what game SORBS thinks they are playing. Do they think that other people don’t get spam or that we don’t care about it? How much spam do you think we might get, having that many domains? We add and delete IPs and domains from our lists all the time. I’d like to get $50 for each one, but that is impractical. How much do AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail charge to get you off their list? Nothing. Its part of running a service.

    Any company that uses an unresponsive, amateur list like SORBS doesn’t know anything about email or how life works.

    If SORBS had a model like SpamCop, it wouldn’t be a problem – come to think of it, while there is SpamCop, what use is SORBS?


  76. Really it is the people that continue to use the SORBS blacklist. I am having a problem getting through to a customer that SORBS is an extortion racket and use another blacklist service. The users are up in arms and say we should pay the “fine” but our ISP point blank refuses to deal with SORBS.

  77. I work for a regional ISP. We are currently having similar issues with SORBS. They have decided that they don’t like our DNS names and/or TTL, so they’re black listing many of our IP blocks. They refuse to remove any of our IPs, unless we change our names and/or TTL to their liking. To make matters worse, their delisting process is a joke, their support sucks and english seems to be their second language.

    Needless to say, we are not using SORBS anymore, and I urge all other ISPs to stop using them as well.

  78. mean to say will not pay any penalty.. lol

    I advice everyone who is in our shoes to do the same. Ask the ISP to stop using SORBS!

  79. One of our servers is blacklisted after customer e-mails to cogeco bounced back. The source of spam was one of our customer accounts, really not an open relay or quite frankly anything that can be prevented from happening again unless of course we suspend all existing customers. We will not pay the ransom. We will let our customer know this is a problem with cogeco because they are doing the blocking. It will be up to cogeco to stop using SORBS or their customers will never receive e-mails from ours. We will pay any penalty fee that is not one bit our fault. Neither will our customer who had his password stolen.

  80. I’d been blissfully ignorant of the existance of SORBS until a few days ago, when a posting to a ham radio web reflector bounced. So… I went out to thier website to find out exactly what in the hell was going on.

    It appeared, as near as I could make out, that my ISP’s IP portal in Chicago had been used several months ago to carry Spam, so EVERY piece of traffic from it was now being blocked!

    I filed one of thier assistance requests, and got a reply from them. The volunteer / extortionist (Dan) told me that I wasn’t personally blacklisted, it was the ISP… so until I I did THIER legwork for them and pressured my ISP to pay the shakedown money, I was just plain S.O.L.!

    Suffice it to say that my reply informed them (A) that I refused to be a part of thier little extortion racket, (B) thier “service” is MORE of a pain in the ass than the Spam, and (C) Up His, and the same to the horse that he rode in on!

    On another listserve I mentioned this little adventure, and wound up on this blog.

    One member suggested that I report this little scumbag to the FBI’s Organized Crime Division, and there might be something to that… after all, when asked, Al Capone used to say that he was in the insurance business! To me tho, this whole scam seems more like the Joe McCarthy / HUAC blacklisting thing; SORBS goes after a problem in the name of a Greater Good, and when the innocent get screwed in the process they’re just unavoidable collateral damage.

    I’ll be DAMNED if I’ll pay this little shitbird ONE CENT, or cooperate with his shakedown racket in any way!

  81. Hi Mike,

    Good to see that you got your money back, at least. It’s a shame that people are still dealing with this issue. Still hoping that more webmasters will notice the problem and stop using SORBS as a source for blacklisting.


  82. The system does work!! I received the following email from PayPal.
    Unfortunately, we are still blacklist…..
    Dear Mike Hagan,

    We have concluded our investigation of your Buyer Complaint. The details of
    this claim are listed below.

    We have decided in your favor, and as a result, have attempted to recover
    funds from the seller.
    The maximum amount we were able to recover was $50.00 USD. This amount has
    been credited to your PayPal account. Please allow up to five business days
    for this adjustment to be reflected in your PayPal account.

    If you are due any additional amount from the seller, we will make our best
    effort to recover the balance from the seller.

    If the seller’s account has insufficient funds to complete the refund owed
    to you, please be assured that we will take appropriate action against the
    seller’s account, which may include limitation of the seller’s account

    Details of Disputed Transaction

    Transaction Date: Dec 23, 2005
    Transaction Amount: -$50.00 USD
    Your Transaction ID: XXXXXXXXXXXX
    Seller’s Transaction ID: XXXXXXXXXXXXX
    Case Number: PP-XXXXXXXXXXXX
    Seller’s Name: T3 Direct versus Joseph McNicol case Trust Fund
    Seller’s Email:

  83. I work in the IT department and a co-worker accidently download an email virus that
    stole their address book. The virus sent out ~1000 emails to AOL before I could
    shut it down since it happened at night. This crap happens and is part of the territory
    of IT. But as a result our company was blacklist by SORBS but nobody else. I paid the
    “ransom” to the Joey McNicol Foundation on January 3, 2006 and have not received a single
    response from SORBS even after sending 4 mails ( 3 nice and 1 nasty-gram). Since I
    can’t get any satisfaction from SORBS, I submitted the following complaint with PayPal
    and waiting ….. I use Spamhaus and SpamCop as my DNSBL and have no complaints.

    It’s ironic that SORBS promotes anti-spamming while holding innocent parties hostage
    to “internet terrorism” and “ransom”. We fell victim, as many companies do, to mail viri.
    We do are best to protect ourselves but there are a lot of “mean” people out there.
    Unfortunately, SORBS is just as bad.

    Please refer to URL:

    I paid the “ransom” to and was willing to let it go at that. If you read the
    very last text box on SORBS webpage, I would be delisted within 24 hours. I followed the
    instructions on the webpage and did include the IP address, etc in the PayPal comments.
    In addition, I did notify SORBS at and attached a copy of the receipt.

    This transaction took place on Jan. 3, 2006. I’ve written SORBS at 4 times
    requesting information and status. I have never received a SINGLE response to my emails.

    Even though SORBS claims to have no affiliation with the Joey McNicol Foundation, a
    reasonable person could infer that a “favorable outcome” would occur. I feel like I got
    screwed twice … once to pay the “ransom” and twice because I got “no response from SORBS”.

    Even though you can’t refund my money, I feel that PayPal has a responsibility not to be a
    “money laundry” for SORBS and the McNicol Foundation or an unsuspecting agent for “charitable”
    donations by “internet terrorist”. Like terrorist, they are cowards hiding behind SORBS anonymity
    as “hidden volunteers” for the “common good”. I think I hear this rhetoric on the evening news
    except the speakers have cloth wrapped around their faces.

    I hope that it doesen’t take too many of these complaints to shutdown this criminal and
    extortionist activity.

  84. SORBS is an internet pirate, an extortionist, a thief, a fraud, and a gangster. SORBS looks like a snivelling little busybody pipsqueak of a wannabe girly-man spewing lies from a rostrum made of his own excrement. SORBS interferes with information processing systems and uses a technicality to skirt the law. SORBS unwarrantedly blocks e-mails of valuable content from reaching mailing lists to which human beings are subscribed as members in good standing. Victims can’t even unsuscribe once this happens, and what do we call e-mail we can’t unsuscribe from? SPAM. SORBS causes SPAM. The pompous and supercilious reply e-mails from their cowardly and hidden ‘volunteer’ seems to be come from Australia? I bet he wears his momma’s underwear and drinks 3.2 beer imported from Oklahoma. Mad Max needs to visit SORBS and make them feel remorseful. I hope SORBS dies a horrible death that destroys the personal lives of all involved and their families, and quickly bleeds out their financial assets to the last universal credit. If they were based in Texas, they would have been taken care of already, one way or another. We don’t like no carpetbaggers around here. Maybe later I’ll comment on how I really feel. We now return you to your regular conversation about spam blocking methods and why SORBS sucks.

  85. I recently put together a email system for myself that does Bayesian classification using SpamAssassin tests as well as the message text as input. One of the benefits is I get to see, using my own email as a real-world test, which SA tests work and which ones don’t.

    Messages that are flagged by _both_ SORBS and NJABL at the same time are only 2% more likely to be spam than messages that aren’t. A monkey throwing darts would have a reasonable chance of doing a better job than those guys (and would probably not hurt as many innocent bystanders).

  86. I have been running my own mailserver for my domain and a few other vanity domains for a year now. I set up a postfix server, and does a lot of email validation to prevent spam. Also, I use a number of DNSBLs. Most notably for me is spamhaus. I was also using SORBS. After setting up my server correctly, I saw a drastic reduction in spam. Proper header, envelope, dns checks helped reduce the spam about 30% (aparantly a lot of spammers use custom software that writes poorly formatted, non-RFC compliant emails). After setting up some DNSBLs (not including SORBS) I was then getting abouta 90% reduction in spam. Adding SORBs then took out an additional 1-2%. The rest then was filtered through DSPAM or SpamAssassin. Those emails would be delivered, but then it was up to the clients to decide what to do with them.

    I remember reading some debates about SORBS months ago about it’s overzealous and careless blacklisting service. The complaint was from a manager of a small ISP. The debate got rather heated and the user’s complant kinda fell apart because his credibility became questionable. So I was on the fence and continued to SORBS.

    I kept an eye on SORBS and didn’t notice anything unusal. Then about a month ago, I started having trouble receiving emails from friends, and potential clients. At first I tried following up with their ISP’s about the situation, and I often got the same story that is described here. Most are ISP’s that got listed for some various reason, and wouldn’t pay the fees due to the fact that SORBS improperly listed them.

    So I started whitelisting the servers that I knew that were having these problems. This became an uphill battle for me. So eventually I read more on the situation, and finally decided to drop SORBS. They were only blocking mostly legitimate email at this point. I can’t risk my business or my friendships to their careless practices.

    Right now, my spam level is still under control using legitimate DNSBLs, and proper email server configuration. as far as DNSBLs, I highly recommend’s combination SBL-XBL service. Their methods of blacklisting is much more methodical and heavily research. they also keep very thourough documentation on the top 200 known spammers. They are responsible for about 80% of the world’s spam traffic.

    The world doesn’t need careless extortionists like SORBS to make the Spam fight an uphill battle.

  87. Sorbs sucks, and I hope they die a horrific death, ideally a large lawsuit by someone for deformation or something. I used to use SORBS for filtering email, and it only blocked people I wanted to recieve emails from, now I’m finding myself on the other end unable to email people I need to email because there ISP badly configured there email server to use SORBS.

    Wouln’t have a problem with them if they de-listed automaticly and actually responded to support requests filed by me and my hosting provider.

  88. I also never heard of them before until I noticed a 90% drop of readers for the last 2 weeks. Then I find I’m on their blacklist. I don’t even have smtp, pop, imap or anything that can email on my dedicated server. My IP is static, but sorbs insist that it’s dynamic, since my isp (Wanadoo France) don’t communicate their IP ranges, and they don’t run a normal reverse DNS.

    So I’m caught in the middle and now need to declare bankrupt.

    SORBS doesn’t care, they prefer that there were no websites out there, because then there will be no spam.

    And BTW, I haven’t noticed any drop in spam levels, so it would seem the only victims are the innocent users, not the spammers.

  89. Excellent writing. I’ve basically been going through the same frustration for months. Thankfully, due to our clients emails now getting through to various ISPs, I can only conclude that SORBS is being used less and less. The attitude at SORBS is unacceptable. Whether it’s run by unpaid volunteers or not does give them the right to act as they do. I am done trying to communicate with them and have now started campaigning against their use. SORBS is not only a type of exortion, it is a type of slander as well. Maybe it’s time for a class action against them? hmmmmm.

  90. I had never even heard of SORBS until one day i whois’d myself (at and it shows blacklist status. I learned I was being blacklisted by SORBS. How am I supposed to annoy a company I’d never heard of? I’ve never spammed a day in my life, but according to SORBS I’ve been on the blacklist for every day the past month and a half. This is ridiculous.

  91. Yeah, this was posted in October and I still have nothing positive to say about them. If even one webmaster notices this and reconfigures their spam traps to avoid using SORBS I’ll be happy. One can always hope:-)

  92. Yeah, I havn’t had any problems with sorbs in that area since I’m not running a smtp-server. Altough I’ve gotten listed for having a server that’s exploitable because of an Open HTTP Proxy. -In January. (Note, it’s December.)

    Now I’m trying to get delisted, and it’s really not that easy. F.e. there’s some error when confirming the retest request for my ip.

    And they havn’t even got a messageboard, so I can’t tell anyone about it neither.
    I wish I could say anything positive about sorbs. But the more I read about them, the less I like them.

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