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Blog How to find who is the real sender of an anonymous email and their IP address

Please, mind this article is being drafted or rewritten and may contain imperfections. It has not been yet reviewed for final publication.

Sending anonymous emails can be helpful in certain situations. For example, when you want to protect your identity online.

We've discussed in detail in another article how to send anonymous email.

But if you are the recipient of an anonymous email, you want to know who the sender is (so you can be sure whether to trust the email). This article will provide you with relevant methods.

How to the identity or location of an anonymous email sender

We can try the faster and easier way. i.e. try to learn who the sender is from the information they may have left in the email. For example, the sender is someone you know who may not be hiding their identity well.

However, can you open a potentially problematic anonymous email? You may think it could be dangerous to open a potentially problematic email.

In fact, it was a problem in the past with emails sent in HTML because some email systems had a vulnerability that allowed them to run a JavaScript code and infect a computer. For example, Outlook, in particular, had a vulnerability that allowed JavaScript to run if you opened an infected email.

It is no longer the case now. Vulnerabilities can be discovered and fixed promptly. However, opening an email is safe, but it doesn't mean you should open any attachments or click any links within. To be safe, don't click anything in the body of the email because there could be malicious scripts hidden anywhere (hidden links, image links, etc.)

Now that we're sure it's safe to open the email, we can start investigating the identity of the anonymous email sender.

We can try two methods to find out anonymous email senders:

Method 1: Use "Reply" to find the identity of the sender of an unknown email

  1. Open the anonymous email for which you want to find the sender's identity.
  2. If you're using Gmail, next to the date in the upper right corner of the body of the email, you'll find a menu (three dots). Click it.
  3. Select Show Original.
  4. This will open a new window (It may be confusing at first, but don't worry, we'll tell you what to look for.
  5. Find the "Reply to:" line. You might be lucky that the sender forgot (or didn't know how) to change their "reply-to" email address when sending from another account. So you may find useful information from the sender's email address.

For example, if you find that the anonymous sender used an email provider to send the message. You can also ask their email provider or report abuse.

Experienced anonymous senders can mask their actual email addresses and identities.

However, you can still try to track them using the second method, which is to find their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

Method 2: Use IP address to track anonymous email senders

What is an IP address?

An IP is your computer's identification number on the network you are connected to. It allows your device to communicate with other devices on the Internet or other networks.

Thinking about IP is basically the same way you think about home or business addresses or other physical locations. If a sender wants to send you a package, they must send it to you at that address. Otherwise, it won't reach you. This is pretty much how IP addresses work.

We send and receive small packets back and forth when we communicate online. But instead of actual physical addresses, computers use DNS servers to help them find hostnames with corresponding IP addresses.

How to find the sender's IP address from an anonymous email?

The exact method of finding someone's IP address from an anonymous email will depend on the email service they use. Here we'll show you how to do this with three of the most popular email programs, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, and Yahoo Mail.

These three ways are similar, but there are some nuances for each specific email service you need to be aware of.

Gmail

  1. Open the email you want to view.
  2. Click the menu (three dots) in the upper right corner of the email.
  3. Click Show Original to open a new window called original message.
  4. Look for the line labelled "Received:". In the information, you can find the sender's IP address inside a square bracket.

Microsoft Outlook

  1. On Microsoft Outlook, open the email message you want to view.
  2. Select the anchor icon (in "Tags") and open the "Properties" box. You can also open "Properties" by going to File>Info>Properties.
  3. Once in the "Properties" dialogue box, select the section titled "Internet headers" and look for "X-Originating-IP." It will show you the sender's IP address like this:

Yahoo Mail

  1. Open the Yahoo email you want to learn about.
  2. Find the gear icon and open the "More Actions" menu.
  3. Click on the "View Full Headers" option.
  4. Scroll down, or use "CTRL+F" on your computer to find the "X-Originating-IP" line; next to it, you'll find the IP address of your sender.

It would help if you used the "IP Lookup" tool to find the IP address. Plenty of free IP lookup services available on the Internet can tell you fairly accurately where a device using that IP is located.

All you have to do is copy and paste the IP address you found in the email header into IP lookup, click the button and let it do the work. For example, we can use the Whoisxmlapi's IP Lookup service.

If you click "Find", you will be able to see the WHOIS record. This will show you the registrar, nameservers, registration date (reduced WHOIS model), and contact information.

You can use the IP Geolocation tool to find out more specific information about an IP. You can copy and paste the IP in the field, and the API will show you something:

Under "Location: Objects", you can see the country, region, city, latitude, longitude, postal code, and Time zone.

With this information, you can deduce the location of anonymous email senders with great accuracy.

Conclusion

The above methods of finding out the identity and location of anonymous email senders are sometimes not entirely effective. Some scammers will be very good at hiding their information. You may need to dig a little more. For example, they might use a VPN server that shows another IP instead of their real IP. There are a few ways to find out if someone is using a VPN, but we won't cover them here.

Alternatively, the sender may use an anonymous email account such as Liverado to send the message. In this case, it is difficult to find out who they are because Liverado does not require a phone number to register, nor does it log, store, monitor, or log information, including IP. IP addresses have been stripped from logs and metadata from outgoing emails. There is no way to trace it back to the sender. If the user uses Liverado's IP, even Liverado can't get the sender's actual IP address.

If you have an anonymous email account, check out Liverado encrypted email, learn more about anonymous and secure email, and start sending an anonymous email.

Ready to join Liverado? Start your free 14-day trial today.