Having been without a full-time job for more than 17 months, I know as well as anyone that times are tough. But if you want me to present some statistical proof, consider this: The average number of e-mail messages quarantined in my spam folder has doubled, from around 60 at a time (it automatically purges messages that are more than one week old) to more than 120. Can’t find honest work? Then you might as well prey on people.
I’ve also noticed that the subject lines are getting dumber and dumber, as well as less original. Looking at the current contents of my spam folder offers several illustrations proving my point.
There are three consecutive e-mails, sent within seconds, from three different e-mail addresses, with the exact same subject line. I suppose the thought process behind that was that if I didn’t fall for two of them, I’d certainly fall for the third one. There is a message with the subject line, “TOP SECRET: FBI,” from the ever-so-professional e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org (I swear, I am not making this up). There’s a message with the subject line, “BE CAREFUL OF SCAMMERS.” Gee, do you mean, like yourself? There are several from spammers who think my name is Steven Sumner. Steven, if you read this, I have a crap load of spam e-mail that belongs to you. Feel free to come by and pick it up at your leisure.
I’m not writing this to rail against the people sending the spam. I like to try to keep things fresh on this blog, even if I don’t always succeed, and everyone knows these people are contemptible scum, so there’s really nothing new I can bring to the table. But think of this: Would these people invest so much time into filling our mailboxes with all of this garbage if it didn’t actually WORK once in a while? Even one theft of a login and password or credit-card information for every 100,000 e-mails sent makes the entire process worth their while.
In short, I guess my message is: STOP FALLING FOR THESE SCAMS, YOU STUPID BASTARDS.
Seriously, before you commit any kind of action online that requires surrendering any kind of information, please step back for a second, think, use logic, and ask yourself if you’re sure what you’re doing is safe.
If you’re asked to log into a site or service that you’ve already logged into, be suspicious. If you’re asked to log onto AOL, and the URL isn’t http://www.aol.com, but something similar to the e-mail address I highlighted above, be suspicious.
There is no one in Nigeria who has $10 million, $1 million, $100,000, or even 25 cents who needs your bank account information and who will give you a percentage of the money. It doesn’t matter if they claim to be the president of an oil company, a barrister, a general, or anyone else: If it sounds unlikely and stupid, it is.
If you’ve never set foot in England or purchased a British lottery ticket, you haven’t won the British lottery. This is common sense, people: Enough people legitimately buy tickets to lotteries. Do you really think the folks who run them are going to e-mail random strangers and hand them bags of cash? England/Britain is in most of the subject lines I’ve seen, but I’m sure other countries are used, as well.
If the e-mail happens to contain your real name and/or address, that doesn’t make it legit. There are tons of sources where spammers can acquire that information.
People, work with me here. If these guys send out millions of e-mails and don’t receive a single response, they’re going to run out of the resources, patience, time, or whatever to keep sending those e-mails out. But as long as the occasional stooge provides them with what they’re looking for, spam folders are going to be full, not empty, especially in this economy. Think before you click, for the love of God. Don’t be that stooge.