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For the past few weeks, I have received a lot of malware-ridden email from a friend who has expressed an inability to fix the problem with his computer at this time. (I sent him an SU link for malware removal to no avail.)

The offending emails are addressed to around eight recipients, often contain a non-descript subject line (such as "Fwd:") and a single link in the body with no accompanying text or attachments.

Were these emails from a stranger or a passing acquaintance, I wouldn't hesitate to report them as spam or phishing to Gmail, my mail provider. Since these emails are from a friend with whom I wish to keep an open line of communication, I would like to report the email pattern to Gmail without running the risk of blacklisting my friend.

Is there a way to do this, i.e., report email with malware links without penalizing the victims of malware themselves?

Or are my options limited to either putting up with the emails or setting up a filter until my friend gets around to fixing the problem at his end?

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Are you confident it is malware, and not that his details have been phished and his account hijacked? If his account has been hijacked, just get him to change his password. It's much more likely that his account is compromised rather than malware on his computer is physically sending the email. Unfortunately there is no real way to 'report' him without getting his email address blacklisted by spamlists or Gmail. – Oliver G Jul 24 '12 at 10:54
When you say it is from his computer - do you mean via Outlook or a desktop application or from a web browser / online service? – Dave Jul 24 '12 at 10:59
@OliverG: He has changed his password several times to no avail. I noticed another question here suggests there exists a vulnerability in Yahoo! Mail (his provider) that allows session hijacking. – Adeel Zafar Soomro Jul 24 '12 at 11:14
@DaveRook: He is using Outlook with a POP3 account set up for Yahoo! Mail. – Adeel Zafar Soomro Jul 24 '12 at 11:17
In that case you're out of luck. Gmail learns from how users categorise their email, so if you (and perhaps a few other people) designate it as spam, chances are it will end up being recognised as spam gmail-wide. – Oliver G Jul 24 '12 at 14:50

It sounds like your friend's email address is being "spoofed" (faked) by a spammer. This means the emails are not coming directly from your friend. His account does not necessarily have to be hacked for these "spoofed" emails to get sent. You can check this by looking at the email header info to find the origin of the email.

How to find header info;

  • Gmail: Select the spam message. Click the down arrow next to the reply arrow. Select "Show Original."
  • Apple Mail: Select the spam message. Click View > Message > All Headers.
  • Outlook: Double-click to select the spam message and open it in a new window. Click File > Info > Properties. The header is displayed under "Internet Headers."
  • Thunderbird: Select the spam message. Click View > Headers > All.
  • Yahoo!: Select the spam message. Click "Full Headers" below the email.
  • Hotmail: Select the spam message. Click the down arrow next to to the reply arrow. Select "View message source."

Give this information to Gmail when you report it, letting them know you wish to receive actual email from the correct address.

Here is an article which might help explain it better: How Can I Find Out Why My Email Account Just Spammed My Friends and Family?

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I doubt his address is being spoofed. All the other recipients of the email are in his address book (as far as I can tell). A spoofer is likely to email a lot more people and unlikely to know of, let alone target, just the people in my friend's address book. – Adeel Zafar Soomro Jul 24 '12 at 14:52
Before you say it isn't, it can't hurt to check. Confirming it is not being spoofed will help in your process of elimination toward finding a solution. – CharlieRB Jul 24 '12 at 18:34

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