Gowanus, Brooklyn. . .

Gowanus, Brooklyn.

. . .

Something I wrote for the Metro section of the Times: Users of Roommate Service Receive Anti-Jewish E-Mail. It has yet to run in the print edition.

I started digging around on this story a few weeks ago when I got an e-mail with the subject line "Jewish real estate entrepreneurs swindle Holocaust survivors." It was from someone named Michael Santomauro and included a link to his Web site, RePortersNoteBook.com, which bills itself as "a collection of journalist truths suppressed by the mainstream media." The suppressed truths mostly involve some variation on the idea that Jews are bad and the Holocaust story is a sham. (Don't go near the message board if you've eaten recently.)

The e-mail was sent to an address I had used exactly once, when I was looking for a roommate a few months back and signed up with a service called Roommate Finders. (Since I own a domain name, I give out different addresses to different sites so I can catch this sort of thing. This one was finders@....) It arrived soon after I received a weird holiday greeting from Roommate Finders, sent to the same address.

As it turns out, Mr. Santomauro is also the founder of Roommate Finders.

As my story indicates, Mr. Santomauro is quite proud of his Web site and sees no shame in being a Holocaust revisionist or a spammer, especially when the spam is helping him sell a lot of books. But he repeatedly denied that he knowingly put the addresses of people who signed up with Roommate Finders on his RePortersNoteBook.com mailing list. I report, you decide.

. . .

A postscript: I heard from one person, Enrique Vargas, who started getting spammed by RePortersNoteBook.com during his apartment search last fall but couldn't remember giving his address to Roommate Finders. Last week he sent me this:

I think I just found out how roommate finders leeched on to me.

When I first started looking for a roommate, I contacted this woman, "MMolly", about a share she was advertising on craigslist. She told me, sorry, she already rented out her room thru a service, that they were great, and would I like to contact them. She emailed me the promotion, but I went in a different direction shortly thereafter, and rented an apartment outright.

That is exactly when the reporternotebook mailings started.

Now that I'm on the other side of the fence ('renting out', rather than 'looking to rent', a space), I looked up this woman to see if she could help me -- she seemed very happy with the service, and I'm running into nightmare after nightmare looking for someone half-way decent to share my domicile with me.

I'm forwarding you her response that I got just one moment past.

The e-mail from MMolly222@aol.com had the subject line "I just found it.....*******" and was a copy-and-paste of this page on the Roommate Finders site, with a few modifications.

I e-mailed Mr. Santomauro and asked him if he had used Craigslist as a source of addresses for his mailing list. He responded: "What's Craig's list?" I pointed him to this ("MMolly," his service's phone number) and this (his e-mail address, same phone number) and this (his personal address, message about Roommate Finders). He said I should talk to his webmaster, who is traveling the world until April.