Moda Condos: How To Piss Off 1086 People With 1 Click

Mike Industries Poll

Given the situation in this blog post, would you ever sell the list?

So I woke up yesterday morning to an e-mail in my inbox from “Moda Condominiums”, an upcoming condo project in Seattle. I had filled out a form several weeks ago at the Moda website indicating I was interested in some information about the place.


I replied to the sender and asked how they could possibly make the mistake of taking private information and publishing it publicly like that. If I had received a response or apology, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog post, but there’s been nothing but radio silence so far.

It’s bad enough when a friend forwards you a joke e-mail and there are 50 people CC’d, but this list has some serious value attached to it. 1086 qualified real estate leads looking to purchase a condo in Seattle? What’s that worth? $25 per lead? $100 per lead? $25,000-$100,000? Real estate and mortgage leads are extremely expensive/lucrative and everyone on the exposed list can only hope one out of the 1086 people doesn’t find a buyer. In fact, it’s likely that some people on the list are real estate and mortgage people.

This is going to sound unethical (and it almost certainly is), but if someone offered me $100,000 to simply forward them that e-mail, I can’t say with 100% certainty that I wouldn’t do it. And I can say with 100% certainty that at least one person on the list would. I’m just being real here.

Note: Until I hear otherwise, I’m going to assume the responsible party is Moda’s sales and marketing firm “Urban Pacific Real Estate”. If this is not the case and someone comes forward indicating otherwise, I will gladly post a retraction.

UPDATE: According to Jared, a list like this is worth at least $20,000… or $20 per lead. Good info Jared!
UPDATE #2: Well, it looks like Geoff George ( and is the first Mortgage spammer to commandeer the list for his own personal gain. He just sent an e-mail pitching his firm to all 1086 recipients. He *also* put everyone in the CC field (unbelievable) and included his phone number as well.
UPDATE #3: Iolanthe Chan-McCarthy of Urban Pacific Real Estate has just sent out a public apology to everyone on the list and to me personally as well. Apology accepted. You’re not off the hook, but at least you’re honest and you’re owning up. No apology from Geoff George yet, but Iolanthe has reportedly contacted him as well.
92 comments on “Moda Condos: How To Piss Off 1086 People With 1 Click”. Leave your own?
  1. They must have been using a desktop app to send the e-mail surely.. with basic training i’d imagine too.

    Either that – or someone had a very bad first day at work.

  2. paul haine says:

    Wait until somebody clicks ‘reply to all’ and sends an email to everyone requesting that they ‘be taken off this mailing list pls’. That’s when the fun really starts.

  3. Mike D. says:

    The sender’s address was a Gmail address actually so I assume they went through Gmail (*very* professional). Desktop app/web app… pretty much the same thing though.

  4. Erik says:

    Sell 1086 email addresses for at least $10,000? Um, hell yeah. As much as I would be tempted to just buy myself a new 1D Mark II camera and a couple lenses, that money could do a lot of good going to a charity. I mean, I hate spam as much as the next guy, but we’re just talking about about email addresses here and spam on the net is simply a fact of life.

    Now if we were dealing with names, addresses and phone numbers, that’s a different story. I would have serious problems selling that info……although again, $25K or $100K could do a lot of good. And let’s not kid ourselves – our personal information is bought and sold a hundred times a day between corporations for far less noble reasons.

  5. Dave Simon says:

    Mike –

    Don’t get me started on Real Estate people. :)

    A long time ago, when I was one of the first customers of one of the first ISPs in Montana, I spent some time knocking around the system.

    I ran into a file that, essentially, was their entire client list, their phone numbers, addresses, methods of payment and usernames/emails. Everything but passwords was in that file.

    I immediately notified them and they said they were aware of it and that they were going to do something about it.

    Months later, one of the executives was forced out, and what did he do? Started his own ISP, spamming everyone in that file telling them of his new, less expensive venture.


    Sounds like these Moda Condos people need to look into Campaign Monitor or something.

  6. Matt Hoult says:

    While I completely agree with Erik here, I have to ask the question: Why wouldn’t you sell it? Is it really that unethical? I realize that two wrongs don’t make a right, but this is different. Like, Erik says above, your information is sold who-knows-how-many-times-a-day, so will one more hurt?

    In all of this I have to think that it’s the biggest waste of money ever. I refuse to believe you could even consider making a living from spam, or even junk snail mail. While companies may pay good money for it, where is the come back? Who buys this crap? Is it not the case that the only come back is that when you get found out you get hated and loose business (a la Sony rootkits)?

    Perhaps this was a simple mistake by some inexperienced startup companies, perhaps it’s more like gross negligence, but while punishable by death in the industry, it’s not going to change anyones life but the person who sells the list first.

    In short, I guess what I am trying to say is… Get in there!

  7. Ethically speaking, selling the email addresses would be the wrong thing to do based on the argument that “one more time won’t hurt”. This scenario _loosely_ fits under the “tragedy of the commons”. Otherwise, you may as well go make a quick buck with the emails. It was their mistake for being so wreckless in the first place.

  8. PanMan says:

    I got the same thing happening, a couple of times. And it did in fact result in some spam, as I usually use unique email addresses when I sign up.

    But I think your quoted prices are quite high. I guess lot’s of people would also sell the list for $500, or even less. This probably has to do with the ‘crime’: giving out someone’s email adress isn’t considered THAT harmful (I’d say phone numbers would be worse, to me), with all the spam occurring anyway. I also think that you earn quite some more than some of your readers, and while I don’t say that less earning people are less moral, it makes sense that their reference frame would be different: Just as an example: It could be that $50.000 for you could be a 20% raise, while for someone else, it could be a 100% increase, or (a lot) more. Altho, the people in your new ‘housing club’ would be in a somewhat comparable income range.
    But, why are you leaving? Didn’t like how the new carpets in the common area’s worked out?? :)

  9. Bradley says:


    I think by now, everyone that knows me has heard my favorite speech at least once: “Either e-mail me personally (you-to-me only), or don’t e-mail me at all.” If they decline in word or deed, goodbye. Gets ugly with family.

    The worst is when you finally hand out your business e-mail to a customer and they proceed to put you on some sort of mailing list for their political opinions. Give it 2 days and you’re in 30 people’s virus-infected Outlook address book, and the new e-mail sound coming from your computer just won’t shut up. Then you have to send the polite, “I use this e-mail address for business communication only, please take me off your list” letter and hope you don’t offend your customer too much.

    Thankfully, I’m proud to report only 3 spams in the last 4 years on that account. All were random. And it’s most certainly because I take much care giving it out. My Gmail takes most of the heat for me.

    Which begs the question, Mike: Did you give them a free webmail address, or your mikeindustries address?

    For the record, you make $30,000/year on Dreamhost, don’t go selling lists to boot. :)

  10. Mobile360 says:

    Now…what would I call them…COWBOY’s.

  11. ~bc says:

    Same thing happened to me when signing up for a restaurant’s mailing list, a fabulous tapas restaurant in Boston called Tasca. The funny thing is that the sign up sheet was by hand, so when they entered my email address, they did so incorrectly, leaving of the “B” in “brian.” Since I own the domain, I get all email redirected into a catch-all account… so everyday when I see spam come in addressed to “rian” I know it came because Tasca sent out their first mailing list emails exposing all the list participants. This was several years ago, and I can attribute probably thousands of junk mails to Tasca. I emailed them about that after the first email, and months later they did switch to using specialized mailing list software that protects the list’s addresses.

    Everyday I think of that restaurant. But it’s not a positive association. They should at least buy me and my wife a free dinner for all of this…

  12. Cay says:

    Same thing happened with all official e-mail adresses of Andorra “” (a very small, VERY rich country between France and Spain). I’m not sure about how many adresses were there, but most of them were the official adresses of almost every bussiness, public entity, and individual in the country (beeing such a rich country, they were worth quite a lot of money ^^).
    Ironicly, the email was sent by the marketing department of the only telephone company in the country, the same one that provided all those email accounts. So, obviously, in a few days they got their email servers overloaded, etc etc etc…

  13. Luc says:

    Sadly, yes, I’d sell it for the right price. Hell, 2% of the people on the list could amount to about $10Million in sales. Surely that’s worth $50,000 to a realtor out there.

    Hmm.. good luck with this one!

  14. Joshua says:

    Mike…. This makes me cry…. you know very well why. :(

    Too bad I don’t have $100,000. That list could potentially feed my family for a year.

    And for the record, we usually pay about 10 cents per lead on a list like that.

  15. Hmm… If that was from another area I could get you more then 10 cents/lead :-)

    Maybe a percentage per sale, and for qualified leads, you may convert more than 4 of those people, which would be anywhere from a few thousand to 80,000ish Euros, depending how much legwork you were willing to do beyond that list.

    Too bad the list is from Seattle…

  16. Mike, have you actually received any offers yet?

  17. Just remember to take yourself off the list :)

  18. krystyn says:

    Presented with the question “would you ever sell the list?” with those dollar figures attached, I have to admit that I would be tempted. But in my defense, if this happened to me, I don’t think I would have ever thought of selling it. I would have just been very, very annoyed.

    I don’t know if that means I am an ethical person… or just naive.

  19. Kevin Cannon says:

    Why wouldn’t you sell it? It would be completely unethical.

    If that’s not enough for you, it would almost surely be illegal too.

  20. JP says:

    Too bad there are 1086 other people who have that list as well.

    Heck, I’d take $20 for it.

    Williams Marketing has done the same thing.

  21. Stuart says:

    Kevin –

    How would this be illegal? Just curious.

  22. Jared says:

    I’m peripherally involved in a large real estate project going on in Washington State. I just asked the powers that be what they would pay for such a list. They indicated that if the list had been available early in their marketing campaign, they’d have paid up to $20,000 for it.

  23. Joshua says:

    Yeah, I should clarify about my previous comment on the 10 cents per lead. That is coming from the mortgage business. Potential clients and lists like this are worth a lot more to real estate agents themselves since their commission off one deal is far greater than what a mortgage banker like me receives.

    A real estate agent can do a good 3 to 5 deals a month and be living large where a mortgage banker/broker will do about 10 to 30 a month. Larger quantity.

  24. Jed Wood says:

    Sell it or not, ethical or not, illegal or not- I dunno.

    But you’re punishing the wrong people here. Moda screws up, and suddenly the best way to get back is to screw the other thousand people on the list?

    When a class-action suit is brought against a company, say for a manufacturing problem- you don’t sue all the other customers.

  25. Mike D. says:

    PanMan: Well, I had to move out of the condo I was renting because the owner decided to move back in. That explains the lack of follow-up post to the carpet color fiasco. Sucks. I’ll write a follow up soon though, hopefully.

    Bradley: Good question. Thankfully I used my Gmail address so my own risk over this incident is much less than others on the list.

    Peter: Nope, no offers yet, but I’m sure I could find a buyer if I actually tried.

    Jed: I never said I’d sell it, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be to punish anyone. It would be strictly for the money. The poll says 74% of people would as well. I guess my point is that Moda, through negligence, has released information they did not have the right to release and thus have created a piece of property (the list) which others may now sell. It’s probably even legal to sell considering that I — as an unknowing recipient of this list — never agreed not to sell it. It’s probably an unethical thing to do, yes… but it would seem that Moda’s negligence could lead to someone else’s legal monetary gain.

  26. Josh Byers says:

    How to piss off the rest of the internet – or at least lose all potential clients…

    Have a non-skippable flash intro that doesn’t do anything for 10 seconds.

  27. JP says:

    People you aren’t gettting it, there are 1,085 other people which have the same list already. Many of those agents.

    List isn’t worth jack since so many people already have it. Yea it’d be worth something if you were the only person that had it, but with so many copies floating around, it’s worthless.

  28. Chad Edge says:

    Sigh, I just checked out the Moda Condos Web site…
    People, people, people: do not launch a feature in your Web site if it 1) is incomplete or 2) does not work.

    The mortage calculator on their web site 1) is incomplete “For more information please call Loan Officer’s Name Here 000-000-0000” and 2) doesn’t work (try a calculation or 10).

    Sigh… Not a whole lot going for these folks.

  29. Mike D. says:

    JP: Not true at all. The fewer people who have the list, the more valuable it is. But even if 50 agents have it, only a small fraction of that group would actually use it (for ethical reasons). So… let’s say, 5 or 10 agents have it *and* would use it. I think in that case, it’s just about as valuable as it would be if no one had it.

  30. 20K, interesting! Unfortunately, it’s not surprising they put an entire list directly into the to/cc field(s). Some people just don’t care to do business right :-\

  31. JP says:

    Well of course the fewer people that have it the better.

    However, 1,086 people have it. You keep throwing out these insane numbers of how much it’s worth. With a little work one could have it for free.

    Yea it’d be worth something if just ONE person had it or got a hold of it, but that’s simply not the case. Over a thousand people have it already.

  32. Fred says:

    Those so-called “leads” are worthless. No one’s gonna give you 100-grand, or even 20-grand. Maybe someone will give you a hundred bucks, but that’s about it. Real-estate contact lists are simple to come by and email addresses are usually of extremely low value; they just don’t produce results.

  33. Michael says:

    The sad fact about all this: if you’re selling “cheap” (read: still overpriced, just tiny) condos in Seattle, people don’t care how half-assed you do things.

    I would probably dread living in that community.

  34. Calvin Tang says:

    Has anyone called Geoff George yet? If so, I’m curious to know what he thinks of having his phone number pimped.

  35. Mike D. says:

    Fred: I’m sure you’re aware of a business called It is a business based on real-estate lead generation and it’s getting prices a lot closer to Jared’s $20 per lead than what you describe (more, actually). There’s a difference between getting a list of 1000 e-mail addresses and getting a list of 1000 people who have, within the last few weeks, proactively put their name on a list of people who would like to purchase a condo at a specific location with Seattle.

  36. Maria says:

    Same thing happened to me this morning on a smaller scale. I got an email from a Seattle designer of letterpressed calendars. She emailed last year’s customers with a link to her 2007 calendar. Nice idea, but we’re all there in the open, in the TO: field. I even spotted another designer I know!

    I sent her a polite email asking her to use the BCC next time. I’m amazed at how many people…friends, family members, business associates…have no idea what the BCC is or why one would use it. It’s 2006, are people still that clueless about email etiquette?

    Seeing as the real estate market is much more competitive right now than in the past few years, I suppose that makes your email list/leads even more valuable.

  37. GOD says:

    your all going to hell for $20

  38. sivori says:

    Unbelievable. They really need to create some sort of semi-permission-based email system.

  39. jp says:

    The reason is the list is worthless is BECAUSE OVER 1,000 PEOPLE ALREADY HAVE IT.

    This stupid $20 figure thrown around would be valid IF the distribution of the list was under control. It’s obviously not. The more the list is distributed, the less exclusive it is. Plus this was just an email list, no phone numbers or postal addresses.

    Ask your how much a lead is worth if over a thousand people already have it.

    Yea I understand you’re pissed about this Mike. However you’re making yourself look like a fool. Come on man, you’re supposedly a CEO, you should be smarter than this…

  40. Jason Hiib says:

    I was on that list of people and your portrayal of the situation is mostly hyperbole, Mike… and I’m sure you know it.
    Since you’re so intent on not allowing mistakes, then how is it you have the names and addresses of 1086 people in a Cc: field when there were NO NAMES and the addresses where in the To: field?
    Furthermore, 1086 people are not pissed as your blog suggests, some are actually very understanding that these things can and do happen.
    Here’s what you conveniently left out of your false-portrayal:
    1. Your quoted email asking how this could happen. I’m sure that’s not an oversight and the actual email you sent had horns and insults. If not, please do post what you represent as a polite request for an explanation of how this could happen.
    2. Individual emails were sent to each recipient at the same time that this other message was sent. I got one, so I am sure everyone else did, too. What does that mean? It means that the global mailing must have been a mistake.
    3. The email was sent out of Friday and your blog was already written by Monday morning and passed to the paper on Saturday (I called the PI). So just how much time for a response is too much time being that only one business day had passed? Again, let us see that nice emaill of yours to moda condominiums.

    You attacking moda condominiums for this and barely mentioning Geoff George *intentionally* using the list to SPAM recipients is blatantly hypocritical of you. Why be more angry at someone who thought they locked the door than the guy who later burglarizes the place? It makes no sense and I suspect you have a bone to pick that you aren’t blogging about.

    I purchased a condo from moda and I have found them to be nothing but professional and sincere. Accidents happen, and that’s that.
    You know… like you confusing email addresses with names and Cc: with To:. You also admit to your ethics being up for sale, which is much worse than anything I can say about a simple emailing mistake.

    Oh, and how about posting your phone number so everyone can tell you what they think? Wouldn’t that be fair?

  41. Mike D. says:

    jp: You seem to be the only one with that opinion. Not all list-havers are created equal. There are not “1000 sellers” of the list. In fact, I’d venture to say that at least 900 people on the list don’t even know they are on the list. They don’t read this blog and they probably don’t even pay attention to the CC field… and even if they *do* see the CC field, they just shrug it off as an unfortunate mistake. Therefore, the distribution of this list is very much under control… but like all matters of distribution and secrecy, the longer one waits, the greater the chance the distribution will spread. For instance, as Jared said, if I had approached his firm say, a few weeks ago with said list, I may have been able to get some money for it. If, however, I wait awhile and this list becomes known as “The Moda List”, then its value goes down over time.

    All this is academic really though, jp, and I’m not sure why the exact value of this list is of any interest to you. As the poll shows, many would be willing to sell it for as long as $1000 and probably much less. THAT’S the point of calling out such negligence.

  42. Jason Hiib says:

    You better look up that word in legal context before you start throwing it around, Mike. There is no evidence or negligence or even incompetence for that matter. Are you incompetent or negligent for stating that moda condominiums sent out 1086 NAMES? How about when you claimed they were negligent while admitting you haven’t yet heard from them?
    You’re just a mess on this one and I can’t believe you have the nerve to talk about professionalism.

    Accidents happen even when due diligence is exercised and that doesn’t amount to negligence.
    You really are good at throwing out those terms intended to incite, but some of use aren’t as naive as to let a one-sided story have us running to jump on your wagon.

  43. Mike D. says:

    Jason: Thanks for chiming in. Let me address your points:

    1. The “cc:” field and the “to:” field are essentially the same field. There is no functional difference between the two. The mistake was not using the “bcc:” field.

    2. You’re right that 1086 weren’t pissed. Most probably didn’t realize the ramifications of being on a highly targetable, highly spammable real estate spam list. They’ll know eventually, but you’re right… they don’t know yet. In fact, they may very well just attribute future spams originating from this list to random spammers.

    3. My original e-mail to Moda was indeed angry. There were no insults but yes, it asked how something this negligent could occur.

    4. With regards to your item about the second batch of e-mails that went out: You’re incorrect on a very important detail here. The new batch went out more than an hour after the big “group e-mail”. This suggests to me that the first e-mail went out, a batch of complaints came in, Moda realized what they’d done, and so they then sent out a second “corrected” batch. I could be wrong but that was my take.

    5. You said something about this story being passed on to “the paper”. What did you mean by that? Is this story in the Times or the P-I or something? If so, I haven’t seen that, and nor did I contact any papers about it.

    6. With regards to Geoff George, his spam just went out to the list like two hours ago. That’s why it’s a footnote in this blog entry. I am definitely not “less” mad at him than Moda. There’s really only one reason Moda could be considered worse in that it is their *responsibility* to keep the list private and they haven’t. Geoff never signed up for any such responsibility. But come to think of it, I bet Moda really didn’t have a privacy privacy on their site anyway so maybe they are off the hook on that one as well. Anyway, that’s not the point. I agree that Moda is no worse than Geoff here, except for the fact that they let the genie out of the bottle.

    7. With regards to my phone number, nope… no need to do that. I didn’t spam anyone. Geoff did.

  44. Mike D. says:

    Jason: You seem to be associated with Moda in some way. Apologies if you’re not, but you seem to be. I suppose the fact that you now own a unit in that community biases you a bit, but why the militance here? Moda messed up, I called them out, and that’s that. Your condo value isn’t lowered because of it.

  45. Jason Hiib says:

    Not using the Bcc field is NOT a mistake.
    Only a novice who doesn’t send bulk email on a regular basis would even suggest using Bcc to distribute to a list of people who you want to ensure receive it. Why? Glad you asked…
    Because of the amount of UCE (unsolicited commercial email) that is generated using Bcc. This is a typical SPAM filter used to eliminate 96% of Bcc email that is SPAM. Within an intranet you can Bcc all you care since the server knows the originator and recipients, but in a bulk mailing mail-merge routines are used to ensure that each recipient’s email address is actually in the To: Field.
    Your assertion that the Bcc field is the way to do this is ridiculous. Educate yourself and then come back and start ranting. Moda condominiums obvioulsy did the right thing by using mail-merge routines to send personally addresses email… it just failed in execution. Live with it and learn to be more understanding.
    Besides, there’s nothing here that really is going to amount to a hill of beans after you stop jumping up and down about your precious gmail address being in list. (a privately sent list, not a public one like you keep claiming)

  46. Mike D. says:

    Jason: Don’t talk down to me about mail fields. You said:

    “how is it you have the names and addresses of 1086 people in a Cc: field when there were NO NAMES and the addresses where (sic) in the To: field?”

    That question made no sense and I was merely explaining to you that it didn’t matter whether the personal information was in the “to:” field or the “cc:” field. Whether someone decides to hide that information with a mail merge or a BCC is irrelevant to this discussion. Had *either* of those things been done, no information would have been exposed.

    And I’ll ask again, what is the business with the newspaper?

  47. Mike says:

    “Calvin Tang writes:
    Has anyone called Geoff George yet? If so, I’m curious to know what he thinks of having his phone number pimped.”

    I’m sure Geoff would appreciate a call or 1086, thanking him for spam email (and sharing your email addy too!).

    If you have a cell phone you can block your # simply by starting the number you are calling with the *67, as if the phone number begins with those three digits. The important thing to remember is that you will need to put the 1 in before the area code, as cells don’t normally need the 1.

    For example, enter *6719175551212 before hitting the talk button will lead the receivers caller id to read “restricted.”

    Call Geoff and Thank Him personally via cell at 206-371-7500

  48. HG says:

    You do seem to be over reacting just a bit. If anything, the list informs everyone else on it that there is interest in the home or item you’re competing for.

    The lesson learned from this though is to always use a custom tag when sending in an email message to an unknown place, such as Give a unique tag for every submission so it can be routed properly to your account in the future.

  49. Mike D. says:

    HG: Yep, it’s definitely good practice to use disposable e-mail addresses for these sorts of things. Good tip. With regards to overreacting — probably — but I take the collection of personal information seriously. If there’s one thing I learned while working at Disney, it’s the importance of keeping this sort of information under tight control. Fail to do that and you can be held legally accountable.

  50. Mike D. says:

    SJ Martin: Ha! Interesting. I doubt that had anything to do with this blog post though… it mentioned the contents of the list itself and two responses (one of which I received and one which I didn’t).

  51. SJ Martin says:

    No, it didn’t have anything to do with this blog. Someone from the PI contacted me minutes after I sent out a “reply all” message RE: Moda Team Friday afternoon.

  52. SJ Martin says:

    Oh and btw, it was 1093 ;)

    … that is if you counted all the semi colons (or commas) in the email + 1.

  53. Mike G. says:

    No one’s taken into consideration that there could be one (or more) person(s) out of the 1086 (or 1093, per the PI) that contacted the newspaper after seeing this e-mail. Just cause it’s blogged about doesnt mean that the paper monitors every blog on the planet for information. Besides, theres no mention that the newspaper was even contacted by anyone on the list. Its also possible out of those thousand + people, maybe one of them was from the paper?

    Splitting hairs and nit picking about trivial nuances about the details is a great way to minimize the overall picture: people’s e-mail addresses, given in confidence of the assumption of privacy to a company was publicised to other people on a list. Imagine if your address was given out on a huge billboard (accidently, as you know how those computer illiterate office workers can be when they send out marketing instructions) with directions to your house, and people came to your house constantly, around the clock, on a daily basis with flyers and leaflets and sales pitches. Or, coming to break into your house and steal from you. Would you be mad at the people there? And not pissed off at the advertiser (cause these little mistakes happen)? Or would you call your lawyer, file a class action suita, move from where you live and raise hell? Is your computer different much from your house? (remember all those credit card numbers you throw everywhere when you buy things? Or that online banking info you use to check your account balance? All capturable with phishing, viruses, and malicious websites sent via e-mail!)

    Fate works in strange ways. (Including that this blog got posted on

  54. Devon Shaw says:

    It begs the question though… what was stopping Moda from selling the list themselves in the first place, and without your consent?

  55. Kevin Cannon says:

    Sturart, I don’t know about Data Privacy laws in the US, but in Ireland there’s quite strong protection against unsolicited mail and transfer of people’s details between organisations.

    I’d assume the US has similar laws though I’d be less au fait with them.

  56. Mike,

    in your post no. 3 you say the mail was sent through a gmail account. However, it is not possible to send 1000+ e-mails from an gmail account at once. At least that was the case when I was trying to use a gmail account to send out my newsletters.

    Anyway, nice post! I’ve often received business mails to 100+ very interesting client contacts in cc… Well, can’t have enough brain donors, can you? ;-)

  57. Andrew says:

    While I’m not at all _for_ this kind of behaviour, what was the real estate’s Privacy Policy? These things exist for this sort of reason. If they were violators of their own Privacy Policy then by all means it’s the fault of them and they should apologize. However, if they didn’t have a Privacy Policy, then there is no reason for you to believe that your email address is going to be kept private and undisclosed. “Bang”

  58. Jeff says:

    Hey Mike –


    This discussion has made it to the CLICKED section on

  59. Mike D. says:

    SJ Martin: Yeah, I just realized where I got that number. In Apple Mail, when there are a ton of addressees, it will list like 7 of them and then say “… and 1086 others”. I remembered the 1086 number and hence printed it. I suppose I could correct it but what the hell… a few of those addresses look invalid anyway. :)

    Mike G.: Yeah, funny how this made it onto the front page of Reddit for several hours. I even know the user who submitted it. It really goes to show how the wording of a headline can create thousands of clicks.

    Alexandermann: Yep, I just checked the mail headers and it came from a Qwest DSL account and not through Gmail. The “from:” address was a Gmail address so one generally assumes Gmail addresses usually go through Gmail.

    Andrew: Yep, it’s tough to find out what the privacy policy looked like and if there was even one at all because the sign-up form is gone now. From a business perspective — privacy policy or not — you would expect a condo developer to want to stay in good standing with the community though. It doesn’t make business sense not to.

    Jeff: Yeah, MSNBC. Unbelievable. The link parade continues…

  60. Chad Edge says:

    Mike G –
    Yes, there are several people connected to papers.

  61. Mike D. says:

    FYI: “Jason Hiib’s” most recent comment on this post has been deleted by me. I will not tolerate incivility, personal attacks, or strawman arguments designed to deflect attention away from what happened here. After I deleted Jason’s e-mail, I sent him an e-mail telling him why I removed his comment (providing him the text of his comment). He then re-posted it posing as someone else… using a fake Hotmail address. This comment has also been deleted, as will any further comments from this individual.

    This marks only the second time in the three year history of this blog where I’ve deleted a comment for impropriety. And there are 11,845 comments on this blog as of today. Congrats Jason. You’re number 2.

  62. Chad Edge says:

    Mike, was that “you’re number 2” a pun?

  63. Mike D. says:

    Chad: Berry punny. No, I don’t actually think Jason (if that’s his real name) is “number 2”. I just think he’s either a Moda buyer who is overly concerned about the image/value of the building going down because of this incident (won’t happen), or he’s associated with the sales/marketing staff itself. He says he’s a buyer so I’ll take him at his word.

    Either way, I think it would be wise to let this fade. When the building opens up in the summer of 2008, no one’s going to be talking about this list anymore.

  64. I would like to think I would never sell it, but I answered “Yes, if I could get at least $1,000,000.”. In all actuallity I would probably sell it for $25,000 or even $10,000.

    Either number would take a large chunk out of my student loans when I have to pay them back in just under 12 months.

  65. Greg says:

    I just read up the page a little bit, if this Jason guy is the same one who still has some messages above, he sure is on a rampage to stir up something.

    On a side note, is there a url of said condo’s? Now I want to see them :)

    I also agree with a disposable email address or something dedicated to spam possibilities. Me, I use my hotmail account for filling out stuff (not that I think you would sell my email address Mike).

  66. Greg says:

    Scratch that part is there a url of said condo’s?

    I read this post early on in it’s posting and didn’t re-read it again, so I forgot there was a URL.

    It’s too early in the morning still…. :)

  67. Dave says:

    I am curious as to how they made such a lapse? Did you not sign any non disclosure agreement?
    Guess they could even sell it themselves if this were not true.. and probably have

  68. Temple says:

    If this ever happened to the stock market world – you could sell a list like that for easily a million. Vultures out there.

  69. Think says:


    I was a creative manager at a luxury real estate marketing company in Southern California. We created everything from websites to email marketing campaigns (non-spam) for agents and brokers who represented multi-million dollar homes and condos.

    1. We would daily send out email campaigns to well over a mere 1,000 prospective buyers, and we have made a few mistakes, but not many. Your story is not uncommon.

    2. It is not dificult for an agent or broker to obtain a list of 1,000 prospective buyers via online marketing campaigns, at all. The list of names you are referring may hold a little value, but not much.


  70. Dave Starr says:

    Great discussion on this one …. a friend once started his own consulting business … actually offered some services of value. he started sending out regular “news items” of interesting news in our mutual (very narrow) business area. But, he insisted on putting all the client’s emails, exposed, on the CC: line.

    When I asked him to take mine off his list he responded as to how he never had had a complaint before … my response was, “You got one now” … end of business relationship.

    Moral ,,, if you want to be in business and provide something of value, make sure it isn’t a one-finger salute.

  71. t3d says:

    I was on that legendary email list. The apology was ok but the lender email was wierdFolley.

  72. mitch says:

    How about I cut you in on a percentage. email me.

  73. Billy says:

    Well, low barriers to entry and the promise of a quick buck make real estate the catch-all career for people who are too stupid, passionless, undisciplined, or otherwise “with it” to do anything else. Still, I never cease to be amazed at how stupid these people are.

  74. Mike says:

    This story has been dug.

    Poor George is getting a lot of calls about this – when I called, he sounded upset and whiney, “What, are you still upset about that email? I’d hate to see what you’re like when you’re really mad.”

    He sounds like a decent enough guy, just made a mistake. This’ll be a good lesson so that he doesn’t make the same mistake again. If enough people contact him about this, his cell bill will probably not be a pretty sight.

  75. ryos says:

    With so many computer illiterate realtors in the wild, I think it will take a class action with media coverage for a problem like this to be noticed…

  76. Dave says:

    wouldn’t they just do the exact same thing you did to get the email addresses

  77. Jeff says:

    Who the hell lets their server allow one e-mail with 1000+ e-mail addresses to be sent anyhow.

    To me more than 20 is spam

  78. James R. says:

    I availed myself of the opportunity to leave a polite remonstrance on Mr. George’s cell phone. Of course he has to make a living, but he might well hold consideration of his prospects’ privacy in higher esteem. This assumes that the mistake was not simply a matter of technological illiteracy.

  79. mark says:


    I also take this kind of privacy breach pretty seriously and I sympathize with your frustrations. I’ve been in similar situations before and it’s not fun.

    That said, I recommend taking Geoff’s number off the post. I’m not trying to defend his actions (intentionally exploitative or otherwise), but I’m wary of the potential for internet vigalantism getting out of control.

  80. JK87 says:

    An e-mail address is not private information.

  81. Blake says:

    “These are the new leads. These are the Glengarry leads. To you, these are gold; you do not get these. Because to give them to you would be throwing them away.”

  82. Steve says:

    “An email address is not private information”

    Whether an email address is treated properly as PII depends on the privacy declaration offered while capturing that data, and the country in which that transaction was executed.

    In general if there is no privacy declaration, assume the worst… e.g. it’ll be resold to everybody and/or posted publicly.

    A strong privacy policy declares terms of use and retention for PII, and may offer some legal recourse if that declaration is breached (subject to national/state laws). Almost all major corporations operate on the latter basis since violation of those terms is very costly in some countries e.g. in the EU.

    While I fully support Mikes ire at people who are slack with PII. Its ironic that Mike also asks for PII to submit a comment to this form without offering *any* privacy policy or ToU.

  83. Finance King says:

    Well changes are they sold your name to some mortgage company. Speaking of which, don’t forget about the value on that side. They aren’t only real estate leads, but also mortgage leads.

  84. Anonymous says:

    The question of ethics aside, where does one sell email leads?

  85. Guest says:

    I just stumbled on this blog. You all spent over 1 month discussing this. Isn’t there anything else better to do?

  86. Don Moore says:

    I hope to find a way to send all bullshit mailings back to the originator and his mama!!!!!!!!!!!!

  87. Wendy says:

    The good news is it seems like people haven’t abused those addresses. I’m pleasantly surprised actually.

  88. Clicked says:

    NORK nukes, GoogTube, Blogger blues and other news

    Between the North Korea nuke test, Google’s purchase of YouTube, and lingering developments in the Foley…

  89. Sonny Kwan says:

    Emails addresses are worthless is the sales industry. PERIOD, unless you have a direct connection with that person or service or the receiver actually sees some value in what you send them.

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