How people SPAM you with Bitcoin

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Recently I received a weird payment to my Bitcoin wallet. It was 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 Bitcoin) sent to me from an unknown address. I didn’t really understand why was this sent to me. Here’s an example of such a transaction:

Spam transaction

 

After searching around for the meaning of this I found a thread on BitcoinTalk explaining this. Apparently these are SPAM transactions.

How people use micro Bitcoin transactions to SPAM you

Let’s say you own a Bitcoin gambling website. You send out 1,000,000 transactions of 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 Bitcoin). This costs you 0.01 Bitcoins which is roughly $4. In each micro transaction you embed a message with your website’s name. For example “My Bitcoin SPAM Company”. It’s safe to say that out of 1,000,000 people that receive “free” money at least 1% will check out where it came from.

bitcoin spam

So now you have 10,000 people looking up your website on Google and perhaps becoming a client. Even if only 1 of these million becomes a paying customer you’re already at a profit. Of course there’s still a fee to pay for all of these transactions but it’s might still be a profitable method to get your name out there.

The fee structure of Bitcoin is set up in a way that you wouldn’t be able to scale such an operation, but apparently some companies still find it profitable.

How to embed SPAM messages inside a transaction

The Bitcoin protocol allows you to attach a message to a transaction. This is done through your Bitcoin wallet. Here’s an example of how to attach a message through Blockchain.info:

blockchain message

 

What can I do to prevent this SPAM ?

Unfortunately nothing. There’s no way to block specific addresses from sending you money at the moment. The good news is that it you shouldn’t be worried to much about it either. Just ignore these messages and in time spammers will hopefully find this less efficient. If this really annoys you, you can just archive your current Bitcoin address and use a new one that hopefully the spammers aren’t aware of.

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Ofir Beigel

Owner at 99 Coins ltd.
Blogger and owner of 99Bitcoins. I've been dealing with Bitcoin since the beginning of 2013 and it taught me a lesson in finance that I couldn't get anywhere else on the planet. I'm not a techie, I don't understand "Hashes" and "Protocols", I designed this website with people like myself in mind. My expertise is online marketing and I've dedicated a large portion of 99Bitcoins to Bitcoin marketing.

14 Comments

  1. These transactions are too small to be allowed by the current version of the bitcoin protocol, yet somehow they are being generated.

    I first noticed them in february before MTGOX lost all the bitcoin, like a hailstorm of covering fire, which gradually resolves away to nothing – otherwise the blockchain filesize would become too large.

    It ensures that whichever machine wins the mining contract is busy clearing up shrapnel for thw entire 10 minutes so there is no gap between bitcoin miners.

    They could even overlap by a few milliseconds which could be used to do unusual things on the blockchain.

  2. Riccardo Casatta on

    “The Bitcoin protocol allows you to attach a message to a transaction” this is not correct! The blockchain.info web site gives you the possibility to do so. The message is not stored in the real bitcoin blockchain.

  3. Or give the spammers room to experiment, I don’t mind receiving more pointless satoshi’s. At least they are willing to innovate in Bitcoin and communication.

    • True, but most of the times you won’t even receive them since the transaction won’t go through. You see the spammers don’t even pay the fee for these transactions so miners don’t pick them up most of the time. What you see is just an unconfirmed transaction.

  4. This is a very smart way to get known by a lot of people! These spammers are really smart and if they would only put their minds to doing some good, well, this world might be different. Great post!

  5. OK, the value is neglectable, but at least it’s better than spam email where you have to waste time junking them ;^>

  6. 1,000,000 transactions!!! WOW! That’s a lot of Satoshi!
    It’s amazing that this only amounts to $4! Good to know!

  7. Alexander Brown on

    When I saw the title of your article I was scared thinking that spammers got into Bitcoin and were somehow stealing money of something like that! I am relieved to hear that this is not the case. I don’t pay any attention to such small amounts of cash.

  8. Dominic Kelly on

    The funny thing is that I actually received this kind of payment! It was so small that I didn’t even notice until some days later but I didn’t do anything about it. I had no idea this was SPAM!

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