Swine Flu, Slackers and Simpsons – This Week in Spam

In the last few days I was fortunate enough to feast my eyes on the work of three kinds of spammers:

Spammer Type #1: The Updated Type

This guy truly believes every crisis is an opportunity and the current global pandemic can be harnessed to sell swine flu drugs:
Swine Flu Spam, May, 2009

Spammer Type #2: The Slacker Type

Hello Name Spam, May, 2009This guy has become so nonchalant about his daily sending of millions of unsolicited emails, he doesn’t even bother to proofread anymore, thus greeting millions of recipients with “Hello, {#TO_NAME}“:

 

Spammer Type #3: The Creative Type

This guy decided to flavor his spam with a long forgotten incident from The Simpsons, where Lisa, not Bart, is writing on the blackboard:
Simpsons  Spam, May, 2009

This is the relevant frame from that Simpsons episode:
The Simpsons s11e09 Spam, May, 2009

 

Zeitgeist Spam: If you could help someone for free by just clicking your mouse would you?

Take a letter, Miss Jones,
Due to the world situation
The shrinking pound, the global slump
And the price of oil
I’m afraid we must fire you
We no longer require you
It’s just another sign of the times, Miss Jones,
A most miserable sign of the times
 
   – – from the musical “Blood Brothers” written in 1981 by Willy Russell

I just received this spam message in one of my email honeypots. I sure hate spam, but I thought I would post this. The content of this email may or may not be real. Not sure if carpenters from Illinois spell the name of their state without a capital I, and misspell ‘ads’ three times. Oh well…

Spam: If you could help someone for free by just clicking your mouse would you?

Subject: If you could help someone for free by just clicking your mouse would you?

I have a wife and 2 sons. I am a carpenter in illinois. I am layed off work. A pretty normal thing for anyone in the trades right now. We are a real family.

I am giving you these links to my parked domains(web site names). I let google fill the page with adds. All I need is people to click on the adds. Nothing to buy.

No risk of fraud or anything bad. Just click on the adds and google pays me .05 per click. Please forward this email to everyone you know.

The Five People You Meet in Web 2.0 Hell

38-year-old Eddie is convinced his digital life would be better upon meeting five types of people and showing them the unexpected negative impact they have on others:

[singlepic id=60 w=320 h=240 float=right]The Under-Tagger – This guy would spend a week going through old video cassettes, finding the amazing CNN footage from 1983 he was looking for, but upon uploading it to YouTube would title it: ‘She Lied!’ and would tag it using three keywords or less, at least one of which is misspelled. The Under-Tagger assumes that since you can clearly recognize the people in the video, there is no need to be petty and elaborate on it in the title, description or keywords, and as a result of that no one can find his video even when searching for relevant keywords.

The Non-Linker – This guy would spend an hour blogging on a recent survey or commenting on an obscure news item, spewing lots of words and ideas without supplying a single link to the actual survey or the original news item. If this guy writes in a different language, say Hebrew, he would never consider supplying the English spelling of names of people or companies he writes about. The Non-Linker believes he is the alpha and the omega and thus his readers need not check out additional data on other websites.

The Voluntary Spammer – A relic of Web 1.0, this guy truly believes everything he reads in emails he receives, and feels it is his moral duty to forward them to all his friends. From a new computer virus and PowerPoint slideshows, to ladies dying from perfume spraying and cash giveaways from Microsoft, this guy assumes the newspapers do not report the big stuff, and that everyone in his contact list is interested in the small stuff. The Voluntary Spammer tends to get offended when you try to explain this to him over the phone, claiming he only wanted to help.

The Armchair Activist – This guy had joined dozens of groups on Facebook from curing AIDS to freeing Tibet, and truly believes he has done his part. Without once leaving his house or donating a buck to causes he really believes in, the Armchair Activist feels so good about himself he often tries to recruit his friends in the hope that AIDS would really be cured if only one million people click a button.

The BCC-Denier – This guy sends an invitation to his new exhibit by email, adding hundreds of people to the TO section, assuming that since all of them know him, they should all know one another. A direct result of this gross faux pas comes from recipients who RSVP by clicking Reply-All, and people who harvest email addresses revealed in the email for their weekly newsletter.

Help Yourself Reduce the Amount of Spam You Get – In 5 Easy Steps

Israeli Spam: IDF MRE luncheon meat, commonly referred to as LoofThe year has just begun, and if you could not think of a new year resolution to make, how about helping yourself by taking some actions towards reducing the amount of unwanted emails you receive?

Here are 5 things you absolutely can start doing today:
1. Do not post your email address anywhere, not even using address munging.
2. Use BugMeNot as a way to bypass compulsory registration on websites
3. Use a disposable email address for website you could not bypass.
4. Teach your friends some manners and ask them to use BCC when sending emails to multiple recipients.
5. Install MailWasher and teach it to automatically filter your emails

Happy (Spam-free) New Year!

Spam: Don’t Get Mad – Get Even!

Note: Projects discussed in this post have been discontinued. Just scroll down and watch the analog spam-trap video.

I am pretty sure that within the mass of people who say they hate spam (and that is all they ever do against it) there may be a few that actually want to fight back.
As a believer in proactive measures against spammers I was an avid fan of Blue Frog, an Israeli software that started causing spammers actual financial loses. After its sad demise in 2006, which left me with a lot of spam and nowhere to shove it, I had to find a path to which I can direct my anti-spam energies.
Until the new and improved Blue Frog project (called Okopipi, or Black Frog) will mature, I was left with SpamCop.net, a free spam-reporting tool that has been around since 1998, but was never aggressive enough for my taste.

I have been using this tool for a couple of months now, and thought it is nothing to email home about. Basically, it identifies the IP where the email originates (thus allowing the ISP to identify the spammer) and the server that hosts the website selling the advertised product (thus allowing the hosting company to identify the seller who paid the spammer for the marketing campaign).

I could not get excited about SpamCop because you never know if the reports you file are ignored or acted upon by the anti-spam personnel at those companies. After reporting more than 1500 emails, I could not answer truthfully if I made any difference.

Until today!
This is the email I just received and wanted to share:

Hi
 
Thank you for your report concerning this Unsolicited Bulk Email incident.
The account concerned has been identified and suspended under the terms of the Sky Broadband Acceptable Use Policy.
Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience that this incident may have caused.
 
Kind regards
Anthony Edwards

Sky Broadband Abuse Team

That’s why I will keep on reporting my spam with SpamCop, knowing that others will do the same, and hoping that the small dents we might make in the big spam machine will accumulate and lead to its beautiful demise.

To leave you with a smile, here is a video documenting an art installation by Bill Shackelford. It is an analog spam-trap machine, consisting of a computer that monitors email accounts, a printer that prints any spam that arrives, and a paper shredder that automatically shreds any printed spam.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHtDHyS_QIc