How a Gmail error sent 10,000 spam emails to this Fresno man

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28272 full

Along with Friday's Gmail outage, the email system suffered another strange error: the compose link you find when you Google "Gmail" started leading to an email autofilled with one dude's email address. And it's a Hotmail address for a banker named David Peck from Fresno.

It started earlier this week, with about 50 an hour, then a couple hundred, then a thousand, Peck told KPCC. He woke up the next morning with 2,000. "And then, since this morning, it just went crazy," Peck said.

How many emails did Peck get in total? "In the neighborhood of about just under 10,000," Peck said, laughing.

What happened? "No idea," Peck told KPCC. "I don't know if these people were caught off guard or what they were doing and why they still continue, because they had to actually send these emails for me to get it. I was getting emails that had no subject in the subject line, no information in the body of this email, it just came through as a blank email."

TechCrunch reports that a Google spokesperson blamed a technical glitch that caused this error in Web search results.

“Due to a technical glitch, some email addresses on public webpages appeared too prominently in search results. We’ve fixed the issue and are sorry for any inconvenience caused," a Google spokesperson wrote.

Peck said that some of the senders appeared just as perplexed as he was. "Some people would type something, like 'Who is this?' or some foul language, like, you know, 'Why you sending me this email?'"

Peck said that he tried not to read the emails, because at first he thought they might be some type of a hack, and he didn't want to mess up his computer.

So what's to be done? "Hotmail called, and they said, 'What we can do is just have all emails that you don't have in your contact database will automatically go to your junk email.' And they said that's probably the best thing to do for you. They're convinced that this will die down now that Google has removed that extra step where my name comes up, so it doesn't seem like that's happening anymore, so I shouldn't be getting too many more."

Still, Peck said he's concerned about who might use this to do some hacking. He said he didn't like having to send everyone's emails to his spam folder, but that it's better than having to change his email address.

"I've had it for 11, 12 years," Peck said.

Why was Peck's email the one for this to happen to? "No idea. That's the $64,000 question."

Peck said he's been comparing his popularity to Justin Bieber, but added that he'd love to take Bieber's sports car off his hands following Bieber's recent run-ins with the law.

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