Spam the scam: unimaginative in large numbers

It’s like spammers aren’t even trying anymore. Still, be on the lookout for some of these typical tricks.

Another morning, it’s time to check mail. After a handful of proper messages are sorted and replied to, just for fun – or rather because some expected mail hasn’t reached me yet, – I check the “Spam” folder. And with some deviated sort of satisfaction close it. Everything’s as usual: here goes my mortgage drops, enlargement pills, Breguet duds, and a grammar-impaired, though utterly respectful, request for assistance with a huge money transfer from a “lawyer” with a very exotic name. All of the usual is in place.


Something catches my eye, though: an unwanted and a pretty insolent advice to place my CV at some obscure job site; its name and the name under the mouse cursor are different. And the sender calls me by my first name. I feel almost angry. But then again it is most likely a common scam. A little less common, since it draws emotional response, but otherwise nothing unseen before. 

It’s a good thing that spam filters are up and running. It’s scary to imagine how much of this trash would rain down upon me every minute without them, given that, according to Kaspersky Lab’s monitoring, 69.8% of global email traffic accounts for unsolicited junk (last May figures).

By the way it has dropped 1.3% in May, and there were times when there was much more spam than now, but still it’s a bit too much. Spam is by no means interesting to receive, but it’s quite fun to watch spammers’ travails as they try to make their junk look respectable.

Around Mother’s Day, botnets across the US are pumping gajillions of messages with “have-I-got-a-deal-for-ya-and-yer-mama” sorts: “prompt delivery, special price”. Mails are decorated with large, colorful pictures of flowers, candies, and other spam filters’ fodder, showing an almost disturbing lack of imagination. Usually such mail advertise some legit sites, but the actual links redirect users to completely different pages. Visiting them can be unhealthy.

Then, as summer drew closer, more people get their minds on their gardens (given they had those). Spammers were ready too, of course: here’s your shovel, and here’s your turf, and here are all kinds of seeds for your real-life “Farmville” – everything at “special” price with “limited offer”. Domains advertised mostly appeared just days before the spam avalanche started rolling down.

Then there are diplomas. That’s an old, never-changing story: every Spring there is an influx of “special offers” of fake diplomas of you-name-them universities, fake qualifications, etc. Now there are, however, more interesting offers: donate to church, get a doctorate.

The problem is that such “online doctorate” has nothing to do with education and science. Even if it is not plain fake. Some churches in US indeed have a (weird) right to award people with “honorary doctorate” degrees.

The honorary degrees in general are purely decorative, and over the last few years one could hear many times that this or that rock musician received them from this or that university in US or UK, – as a token of respect (although it’s always a question, who receives more publicity that way, a university or a famous rocker). So as well as there’s little to no point of getting a fake diploma (it’s false nature may be discovered at any time), “honorary doctorates” are just a little more than knickknacks. But spammers, of course, decorated their adverts with young people in academic caps and robes.



Yet another eternal saga is medical and/or pharmaceutical advertising. Enlargement pills, yes. Also prescription drugs without a prescription. Medical goods, health checks, cures from anything, from baldness to arthritis, at prices that fell so low, so low, just yesterday, just for you!

Most likely you’ll be redirected to a freshly-created website that would like to learn more about you. What? You’ve left your personal data there? Well done! Now your private information has settled down at every address base spammers use around the world. Expect more and more exciting scams, oh, pardon, – offers!

Getting on the scammers’ hooks like those mentioned above looks a bit silly, of course. But only if you are an experienced user. More people join the Web all the time, some are clueless about scams, and they may get trapped in next to no time.

After all, had the spammers’ activities not paid off, there would be no spam.