dynamoo.com home

 
Site navigation

home
blog
technical
diary
webmaster
orange book
moobiles
shop
contact
links
  
Updated
November 2004

   Dynamoo 2004

 

 

 

Topsites Uncovered:
Who is Behind the Topsites Scam and Spam?

Part 1: Background
Part 2: Correspondence
Part 3: Topsites Uncovered
Part 4: More Topsites Scams and Lies
Part 5: Topsites Revisited
Part 6: For Sale: Topsites.us / Topsites LLC


--- Updated November 19th 2004 ---

Topsites spam comes from two "names" within Topsites LLC, firstly there is "Paul Thomas", who is the name on the spam emails from the first year or so. Secondly, there is "John Kennedy" who started to appear on the spam from about mid-2003.

Topsites LLC's "official" contact details are these:

Mailing Address:

TopSites LLC,
PO Box 7334 - 101591,
San Francisco,
CA 94120-7334

Customer Service number:

+1 (415) 462 3044

Customer Service Fax:

+1 (415) 294 5301

Customer Service Email:

listings2@topsites.us

The address is Post Office box located at 1300 Evans Avenue, San Fransisco with an alternate number of +1 (415) 294 5300. The San Francisco address also appears on Topsites LLC's W9 tax form, indicating a FEIN (Tax ID) number of 980378607.

Back in November 2002 it was:

    Technical Contact:
    Master, Web partner@consultant.com
    4501-14 Southern Hills Dr. #140
    Sioux City, IA 51106-4735
    US

This too is a box number as far as we can tell and doesn't appear to have been used in some time.

For a while Topsites LLC was registered to an accommodation address in Cupertino which was was rented accommodation, and unfortunately the owners of the household have had some problems because of their relationship with their tenants. The tenants were listed Paul Aunger and Namrata Aunger, the owners of the household do not want to be identified, and it appears that Topsites no longer operate from that address in Cupertino.

Topsites LLC have a pattern of using innocent third parties either for bill processing or for accommodation addresses.

There are also two billing services, one in Kansas City, Missouri and the other one in Shannon, Ireland. These are independent of Topsites LLC and appear to be completely innocent parties. Their current billing agent operates from the following address:

7325 Woodley Avenue,
Van Nuys,
CA 91406
650-491-3907

Aerial Photo

The Better Business Bureau shows this as the current address for Topsites LLC:

Top Sites LLC
PO Box 7334-101591
San Francisco, CA 94120
(415) 294-5300
See
report
Rating:
unsatisfactory .

An examination into "Paul Thomas" shows that he is a former editor of the Open Directory, dating back from early 2001. Although it's difficult to see what he contributed during his time as an editor, it does appear that the commercial potential of the ODP data was not lost on him.

However, there's a little more to the characters behind Topsites LLC.

"Paul Thomas" (real name - Paul Aunger)

Claiming to be a Canadian Citizen, Paul Aunger rented a luxury household in Cupertino in about 2002 where he lived with his wife, Namrata Aunger. This Cupertino address was registered with the Better Business Bureau. Recently, the Aungers have moved out and the original owners have moved back in. Unfortunately, due to the multi-million dollar spam business that had previously been registered at that address, the actual owners have been receiving some unwanted attention.

Using the Paul Thomas pseudonym, he was briefly an editor at the Open Directory Project as editor paul23 from October 2000 - not long enough to make any contribution, but long enough to see the commercial benefits of attempting to resell the vast (and free) ODP database.

In the Summer of 2002 he started spamming for the Topsites.us site, which is described on other pages and has been doing the same for almost two years. We have reason to believe that Topsites LLC has earned at least $500,000 to $1,000,000 dollars through these operations. IRS and lawyers take note.

We understand that Paul Aunger's direct cellular telephone number is +1 650 575 1228. Real email address is paul@topsites.us or partner@consultant.com

"John Kennedy" (real name - Somnath Bharti)

The other half of the Topsites LLC spam duo, based in New Delhi and using a pseudonym of a well-known assassinated president of the United States (we assume he thought it was "nicely inconspicuous" - like Ford Prefect).

Somnath Bharti describes himself as the CEO of Topsites LLC. Unfortunately, he appears to work in a basement:

TopSites LLC
C-28 (Basement)
Malvinya Nagar
New Delhi
110017
India

He lists his business number as +91 11 51831049, mobile +91 98 11154636 fax +91 11 26599126 and residential number as +91 11 26676111, personal email address is somnath@topsites.us - if you live in India and you are trying to get a refund, then these are the contact details to try.


NEW - Updated 14th November 2004

Somnath Bharti denies having anything to do with the Topsites operation:

    Subject: surprising and serious
    From: Somnath <somnath.bharti@gmail.com>
     

    Hi Conrad,

    I was taken by surprise to find you listing my name, one of my properties address and my picture in an article on a company named "TopSites LLC" on your site. I don't know on what basis you have been talking so emphatic without cross verifying with the person you are talking about. To my utter surprise, you have been having this article on your site accusing me of being related to a company I have heard only through your article. Please have the same removed ASAP and explain to me what made you write all this about a person, not even remotely attached to any such company.

    Please acknowledge of this email and have any and everything related my name, my pic and c-28 address removed. I am available at +91-9891819893, if you have anything to talk about. Also, post on the same page an apology for this grievous mistake on your part.

    --
    Regards,
    Somnath Bharti

In this email Somnath Bharti confirms that the "C-28" address is valid. However, if you check this spam report in Google Groups, you can see that a Somnath Bharti of the same address is listed as a contact for the domain www--directory.net which is clearly a Topsites operation. There are several other reports linking a Somnath Bharti to Topsites (see here) some of them mentioning the same "C-28" address. So, the evidence from multiple sources seems to be conclusive.

Oh yes, here is Mr Bharti's business card (we apologise for the wonky angle):

We leave you to draw your own conclusions about Mr Bharti's claim.


 

Two new addresses emerged in October 2003, one of which ties in the Indian connection. Mr Ashok claims that he is not related to the Topsites spamming operation, although we believe him to be a business associate of Somnath Bharti who certainly is part of Topsites LLC. We challenged Mr Ashok with the evidence by email and he has declined to reply. The Oregon address is yet another post office box number as far as we can tell.

Anurag Ashok
mspl@BIGFOOT.COM
Magnum Solutions Private Limited
S-85 Greater Kailash Part II
New Delhi
Delhi 110048
India
+91 11 6234940, 6234941
fax: +91 11 6440109

www-topsites.com
listings2@www-topsites.com
946 NW CIRCLE BLVD. #248
CORVALLIS,
Oregon 97330-1410
US
530-688-9820  

What is there still to know about Topsites LLC?

What is there still to know? Well, tax records might be interesting to look at, especially since we know that the scam has netted at least half a million dollars. We've spoken to some of Topsites employees in detail and we feel that the bread-and-butter staff are not being told the whole truth. We can see clear violations of California state law too. Watch this space - you can be sure that Topsites are!

<< Previous  Part 1: Background  Part 2: Correspondence  Part 3: Topsites uncovered

 

 Subj: Shopping and Services

 

 home   technical   diary   webmaster stuff   orange book   shop   contact   links   your privacy