How do I track an email by its I.P. Address?

Joseph Stewart May 23, 2012
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Is there a way to trace an anonymous email back to the sender, using the sender’s IP? It is not spam, as it was personally directed to me. I tried to track the IP but it takes me to a generic provider like yahoo.com, and I assume the provider won’t disclose that information.

I’d like to actually see the account holder contact information, location, etc. It might be useless as the person probably used fake information, or a more savvy one used things like proxies, Tor, so forth.

Aside from the Federal level (who might force the provider to release info), I assume there is a way people like private investigators get it done. Paid online services? It’s just a prank, but it sparked my curiosity about IP tracing. Thanks for your feedback.

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  1. Jo
    May 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Hi guys, just come across this thread and found it interesting. Just two weeks ago I was sent an anonymous email (from a hotmail account) with some incredibly hurtful information included, all of which is lies!
    I've replied to the email to ask why they send this and heard nothing back.
    If there is anyone on here who thinks they may be able to help me trace the sender, I'm willing to pay. I just need to know, for my own peace of mind.
    If anyone would mind talking to me about this, I would really appreciate it. I'm no IT specialist!
    Best wishes everyone.

  2. Kannon Y
    May 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I think anything short of a court order will fail to get a e-mail provider to turn over a client's IP address. However, a court order usually does the trick.

    Google's policy on requests for user data is to follow the domestic laws in which their clients are based. Therefore an IP located in the United Kingdom is subject to the same laws that govern how warrants are used to search a physical location. At least, that's my understanding of it.

    That said, if you have an individual's e-mail address, it's fairly easy to acquire their IP, but you should be extremely judicious, and ethical, about how you use this information. It also may not work if they don't read the e-mail or have HTML disabled.

    With slight modification, you can embed
    code that performs IP tracking
    from Mixmap.com's MySpace tracker.
    It can go directly into your e-mail (this should work but I've never
    used it in this way) or (as it's designed) directly into a website. To
    find out an IP, you would send an e-mail to the address in question
    either with a link to the website you created or modified tracking
    code. If they clicked on it, or enabled HTML, it should give you their
    IP address (which is going to be available to you through your account on the Mixmap website).

    Good luck!

    • Joseph
      May 26, 2012 at 3:08 am

      Thanks a lot!

  3. Souheil Bahhady
    May 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Try this:

    http://whatismyipaddress.com/trace-email

    it won't trace the IP address but it would output some useful information

    • Joseph
      May 26, 2012 at 3:07 am

      Thanks!

  4. Mulder
    May 23, 2012 at 5:01 am

    There is no way for you or anyone else to trace email based on the IP address. No provider would ever disclose the information you're seeking, since it would be a felony crime, one with mandatory prison time. They aren't going to jail for your curiosity.

    No federal agency can force the disclosure of this information, either. Unless a judge can be convinced there is probable cause to believe the sender is engaging in a criminal activity, nobody could possibly get a court order to reveal the information to law enforcement, and they couldn't tell you even if they did get it.

    But that won't happen, since all reputable service providers would go to court to quash any such request, and they have far more money and time than the federal government.

    • Joseph
      May 23, 2012 at 5:08 am

      Makes perfect sense! I appreciate your detailed response.

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