Around the globe, 14.5 billion messages are marked as spam, or roughly 45% of an entire day’s email flow. Senders of spam messages often have nefarious intention, or want to sell you oceanfront property in Arizona. Others simply want to see if you have an active email address so they can send affiliate offers to you later down the road.
Tired of dealing with spammers, and want to reveal their identity? Have you received an offer you are contemplating accepting, but want to learn more about the individual behind the email? You’re not alone.
Here are some amazing tricks you can use to find someone either by name, address, or in some cases both.
Search by IP in header
Although IP addresses are easier to mask today than, say, five years ago, you could always catch someone slipping up by searching the source IP, which is found in the message header.
To find this information, you’ll locate the header (from a desktop computer or tablet) and locate a phrase equal to (or similar to) “Received: from”. Within that area will be an IP address surrounded by “[ ]”. Right-click copy that IP; should multiple entries exist, you’ll want the IP address located last in the entry.
Find an online trace route tool (Google the term if unsure which is best), and paste the IP into the search box. Provided the service properly pings the sender’s IP, you could come within a few feet of their location.
Note that senders who are using a VPN or are masking their IP may be difficult to locate using this method, although this is only one of several methods you can use to locate an individual by email address and follow them online.
Search on social sites
Another ingenious method of putting a face to an email address involves searching social media sites, namely Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Criminals and others who you suspect may be trying to scam you are notoriously dumb. They will literally post their email address to their personal profile or on business pages in hopes of drumming up “business”. What they fail to realize is that posts which go undeleted by the author or page owner are archived.
Simply copy the email address in question into the search field of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. If any posts exist where that email address was offered in a comment, or in an original post, you can match that Facebook profile to it. From there, you can investigate the name and other information provided the person has their profile set to public.
Reddit, Twitter and LinkedIn work the same way, with the latter being a goldmine for researchers.
There are thousands of forums online for virtually any type of business and personal subject imaginable. With that said, you can narrow down the forums by the subject you were contacted about; people tend not to deviate from their line of business too far unless doing so would help them with their directives.
For example, if you are being contacted about marketing seminars, try searching the email address in Warrior Forums or Digital Point; if the email involves shopping, try Slick Deals forums.
Some profiles may require you to create an account – a small price to locate an individual behind an email address.
Check review sites
If you believe the email is fraudulent or could potentially be someone’s poor attempt at scamming you, try searching the email address in Ripoff Report or Consumer Reports. Chances are good that you are not the only victim out there.
You could also peruse Yelp and other consumer review sites. Many people who legitimately complain about some wayward scammer have put their email address in their review (it could be broken up to comply with site rules).
Another way to find the email address via review sites is searching the “perceived” name used by the email sender.
Search in job posting sites
Perhaps the email you received discussed a potential job offer. To verify the alleged employer, try searching the email address in Indeed, Monster and other job sites. If the individual is legitimate, you can respond to the job posting through those mediums instead of an email you received blindly.
Freelance platforms could also work the same, although posting rules on Upwork and Guru make posting an email address hard unless you include spaces or brackets.
If the job being offered via email seems fake or was stolen from these job sites, you could report the email address and demand their cooperation in offering their personal information, which could require a subpoena (if taking the individual to court, that is).
Try classified sites like Craigslist
It would amaze you the level of stupidity scam artists often stoop down to. Some actually post their email addresses on sites like Craigslist, Recycler, and OLX in hopes of selling something fake or nonexistent.
Again, posting rules may make searching these sites a fruitless endeavor, but it doesn’t hurt to try. OLX, an online classified site with a global reach, allows phone numbers and other bits of information to aid searchers should they find this information out elsewhere.
Is using a reverse email search worthwhile?
An individual will normally have more than one email address – one they use for personal communications with family and friends, and another for work or general inquiries. You would be hard pressed to find an individual willing to spam or scam you with their personal email address, although you could use their “shady” email to make a connection to their “clean” address, which may assist in locating someone. Nuwber allows you to do that and many more online, just a click away!
Your ultimate goal is transacting and communicating safely online. If you are unsure of an individual but are entertaining long-term cooperation or one-off transaction with them, it may behoove you to dig up as much information about them as possible prior to sharing your personal information or handing over large chunks of money. Nigerian scam artists taught us this lesson years ago, although they still dupe consumers to this day thanks to their ability to find and track YOU by email address.
No harm in returning the favor, right?