Listrak is a Lititz company that gets hired to send emails on behalf of stores, hotels and other businesses.
The rapidly growing company sends more than two billion of those marketing emails a month — generating interest in its clients, not Listrak.
But marketing emails that Listrak sent last year for Trump Hotels have led to Listrak inadvertently drawing curiosity about itself.
From the FBI.
Why? The computer server of a Russian bank repeatedly looked up the unique internet address of the server sending out the Trump Hotel emails — Listrak’s server.
The ongoing investigation is being handled by the FBI counterintelligence team, the same team that’s probing Russia’s suspected interference in the 2016 presidential election, CNN reported Friday.
There are no allegations of wrongdoing, said CNN. Rather, the FBI is checking out a situation it considers “odd.”
Listrak Chief Executive Officer Ross Kramer said that the FBI came to the Listrak office before the November election, when Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.
While declining to provide details on the FBI visit, he did say, “It was very cordial, and we’ve given them everything they need.”
Kramer said that Listrak was retained by a Florida company, Cendyn, that specializes in marketing for the hospitality industry. Cendyn hired Listrak to send emails on behalf of Trump Hotels.
Listrak sent them from a domain name that incorporates the name of the business being marketed, as is standard practice. In this case, the domain name was trump-email.com, said Kramer.
“If you look back at the election, with all of the allegations swirling around emails ... the domain name trump-email.com is going to get some attention. It’s a mystery to me how the (Russian bank) people got involved with it,” said Kramer.
CNN’s story also comes as the Trump administration’s ties to Russia are drawing intense scrutiny.
The news channel’s story didn’t name the company who had the server that the Russian bank’s server was looking up.
CNN just said the internet address “lives on an otherwise dull machine operated by a company in the tiny rural town of Lititz, Pennsylvania.”
Listrak’s role in sending emails on behalf of Trump businesses also was mentioned in The Washington Post on Sunday.
In its Friday story, CNN said the server at Alfa Bank in Moscow looked up the unique internet address of a Trump server nearly 3,000 times.
CNN described the actions of the Alfa Bank server this way:
“In the computer world, it’s the equivalent of looking up someone’s phone number — over and over again. While there isn’t necessarily a phone call, it usually indicates an intention to communicate, according to several computer scientists.”
Yet investigators have not yet determined whether a connection, if it had occurred, would be significant, the news channel said.
Alfa Bank denied having any ties to the Trump Organization — the name for the various holdings with ties to Trump or his family — or trying to contact the organization through email or other means.
The bank told CNN it believes the server activity was generated by someone posing as the bank in an attempt to “manufacture the deceit.”
The writer of the November article for Errata Security said that Alfa Bank “executives like to stay at Trump hotels all the time (like in Vegas and New York), and there was a company function one of Trump’s golf courses. In other words, there’s good reason for the company to get spam from, and need to communicate with, Trump hotels to coordinate events.”
— LNP Staff Writer Tim Stuhldreher contributed to this story.