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Relatively interesting, clever and insidious spam - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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July 10th, 2003


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05:08 pm - Relatively interesting, clever and insidious spam
It's still spam and so should be ignored, but this is pretty smart as spam goes - interesting enough to point out.

The subject line will be something like REPORT REGARDING: (your e-mail address) and the From: address may be something like REPORT_SUBMIT@REPORTDATABASE.COM . The interesting part of the body text is that, purportedly,
Word-of-Mouth.Org is obligated to inform you via email (if possible) that a report has just been submitted about the person or persons associated with this email address (chris@what.my.email.address.is.uk). *Please find a link to the report below. The Word-of-Mouth.Org Report Awareness System will continue to inform you when and if reports regarding this email address are submitted in the future unless you add this email address to our Do Not Email List.

Do not reply to this email; it has been automatically generated.

Click here to view all reports in our system regarding this email address - http://Word-of-Mouth.Org/srea.asp?ea=chris@what.my.email.address.is.uk
Naturally, people will want to see what has been said about them, so they will visit that URL. (The message also includes a link to a FAQ page which looks pretty darn convincing.) By doing so they will confirm that the e-mail address in question is read by a real live person who pays attention to spam - that is, an ideal target for further spam. Accordingly, don't follow that link. Needless to say, don't click on the "join the Do Not Email list" link either for exactly the same reason.

It's clever, because it could be a genuine business of help to the world at large and a genuine web site. However, it isn't. Now, confusingly, www.word-of-mouth.org.uk is legitimate and interesting - it's a literature discussion community. However, this www.word-of-mouth.org is not; neither are www.word-of-mouth.info nor www.worldwatchdog.com which both happen to be exactly the same trick. As like as not there will be other domain names operated by the same business in the future. Nevertheless, they're all scams, all to be avoided.

If I were a spammer (I'd spammer in the morning...) then I think there's an interesting and thought-provoking spam to be sent which starts something like "Hi. This is a message from your future self in 2009. You didn't know that people could send e-mail back in time, did you? People figure out how to do so in 2008. It's very expensive, though, which is why this is the first such mail you've received." It would then have some very general information about what happens in the world between today and 2009, a stray future-dated stock pick or two (heck, if you're going to spam, you may as well go down for stock fraud at the same time!), a few sporting results by way of past-posting and a couple of lines of purportedly winning lottery numbers.

It would also have some advice about what happens in your personal life over the coming years, written in the annoyingly vague parts-of-this-could-apply-to-anyone format usually found in astrologers' horoscopes and the like. Obviously you can't make specific references to specific family members (making a reference to a family member who does not exist instantly kills the suspension of disbelief), friends or jobs, but I'm sure it would be possible to come up with a few lines which would string 60% of the folk along.

Done sufficiently well, it could be the greatest spam ever. The gullible would likely fall for whatever you choose to advertise in the spam hook, line and sinker; the smart would probably be sufficiently amused by it not to mind so much.

So that's how to get sci-fi in your spam. (Yes, I've seen the "Do you know time travel?" spam and the "Dimensional Warp Generator Needed" spam. Both of passing entertainment, but this would have a better chance of fooling folk.) Your next challenge, with a banana at stake, is to get a daily dose of existentialism into spam.
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(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:jumbach
Date:July 10th, 2003 10:34 am (UTC)
(Link)
Chris, I have this deceased relative in Nigeria and I'd like your help. :-)

Neat idea. I'd jealous I didn't think of it.
[User Picture]
From:imc
Date:July 10th, 2003 02:43 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Nah, that doesn't seem particularly interesting. <g>

One of the most cunning address-harvesting schemes was the one which went something like "Hello, I am new to the net and I don't know how to post to the newsgroup. Could you give me any advice?"

On the subject of web sites that have similar names to other sites, have you ever mistyped `www.livejounal.com'? Don't, is my advice...
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:July 10th, 2003 07:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Nah, that doesn't seem particularly interesting. <g>

:-P ;-)

A very cute little cunning address-harvesting scheme. Could well be targeted to specific people with a reputation for being helpful.

I hadn't seen www.LJ-without-the-r.com in the past, but inevitably went and looked there just now, just-as-inevitably with my arm over my eyes in case the resulting site was sickeningly gross as opposed to just plain annoying. My considered opinion is "hanky-panky college bad, jiggery-pokery college... possibly good".
From:songmonk
Date:July 10th, 2003 04:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
That is funny. :-)
[User Picture]
From:leiabelle
Date:July 11th, 2003 04:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Spam in a can? Bad. Spam on the internet? Also bad. :p

Just wanted to say that If I were a spammer (I'd spammer in the morning...) made me laugh out loud. Bwahaha. :D

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