A Tale of Spam

I could classify this as “rants”, but I’m not actually feeling the urge to rant. In fact, I’m more feeling the urge to laugh heartily at spam. Namely its ineffectiveness. Yes, I’m sure that there are people who periodically click on something that looks remotely useful (I admit to having done that very thing many moons ago), but these days I really don’t see how this stuff could be working.

Especially since I never actually see over 99% of the stuff — it’s usually blocked, deleted, filed, bounced, or otherwise hidden. You’d think the spammers would have figured that out by now.

This morning marks an interesting (and convenient) milestone — 10,000 comment spam on my site in exactly seven months. (That’s an average of 1,428.57 spam per month, or 47.17 per day.) Again, I never see 99% of it. My much beloved Akimet plugin snags it, puts it in a spam folder, and deletes it after 15 days.

The 1% that does sneak through usually ends up with about half in moderation (which means I need to look at it first), and the other half sneaks through entirely. But it sure as hell doesn’t last long.

One thing about spam — it’s easy to identify.

If I can offer some suggestions to spammers out there — ‘cuz it seems you definitely need it — you might find more success if you:

  1. Don’t write your name using non-sensical words or unrecognised name, such as “ruqoudzegi” or “jvponddpjk”. We’re going to notice those pretty darn quickly.
  2. Don’t post the same spam content again and again and again. After the second time, you’ve created a pattern. We’ll notice. Example: “This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title <article title> at <blog name>. Thanks for informative article”
  3. Don’t put any garbage words in the content, either. Dead giveaway. It’s hard not to notice “judmpmsjprda”.
  4. Don’t post more than one link. Two links are automatically moderated, and the ones with 15 links are automatically spammed. Duuuuuuh.
  5. Don’t write an ad. If it looks like an ad, it’s spam. Try not to look like an ad.

Not that I expect anything to change with these, I should add.

But my all-time favourite are the 419 spams (yes, even more than the daily Viagra and Rolex replica emails). In case you’ve never come across these (and count yourself lucky if you haven’t), these originate from Nigeria, trying to con people to send large sums of money in hopes of unlocking a mythical multi-million dollar bank account.

I’ve had a few of these over the years, and always ignored them. First rule of unsolicited email on the internet: If it looks too good to be true, it is. And if you even think of responding, you’re going to lose a lot of money.

Allow me to break down one I recently received. (‘Cuz it’s just so much fun.)

Lagos Nigeria

Okay, so here’s your first hint. It’s in Nigeria. Unless you know a lot of people in Nigera (e.g. more than a dozen), you probably shouldn’t ever be receiving unsolicited email notice from a law firm in Nigeria. If a law firm is that persistent and needs to get a hold of you, you’ll get a posted letter, likely registered mail.

Dear Sir/Madam,
I am Barrister [LAWYER’S NAME], a solicitor & Advocate, I am the Personal Attorney to [SOME GUY YOU DEFINITELY DON’T KNOW], a national of your country, who used to work as a contractor in some oil companies in Nigeria. [ON SOME ACTUAL DATE IN THE PAST WHERE A PLANE CRASH HAPPENED], my client, his wife and their two children were involved in a plane crash. unfortunately they all lost their lives in the event of the crash.

Given, I live in Calgary. It’s entirely possible that a family formerly from Calgary was in Nigeria working on the oil projects, and happened to perish in the plane crash. Problem: I don’t know the guy. Never heard of him. If I’ve never even heard of the person, why on Earth would you ever think I could lay claim to their fortune?

Since then I have made several enquiries to your Embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives, this has also proved unsuccessful. After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to trace his relatives over the Internet with his name, to locate any member of his family hence I contacted you.

Now, I’d be impressed if the internet actually had this sort of information. You could Google your heart out and get only the first names of my relatives. I keep it that way on purpose. But that won’t tie you to sqwat. And it sure as hell ain’t gonna work the other way. Chances are, of course, if this was legit, your relatives would likely receive the same information. I mean, after all, the internet is infallible and the information is obviously there. Right?

And secondly, if the bozo found you through the internet, wouldn’t it make sense for said bozo to then go back through the Embassy again to initiate contact? At this point, it looks like he’s trying to be shady by avoiding due process!

I contacted you to assist in repartrating the money left behind by my client before they get confiscated by the [A BANK YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF AND LIKELY DOESN’T EXIST] where this huge deposits were lodged. The deceased had a FIXED DEPOSIT ACCOUNT valued US$12.3 million in the bank.

Oy. Spell check, please? It’s “repatriating”. Ugh. This is usually the paragraph that catches people’s eye. Who wouldn’t suffer mild arrhythmia at the mere sound of $12.3 million dollars. Any dollar for that matter — Canadian, US, Austrailian, Hong Kong. That’s crapload of money. In all honesty, why would anyone put money in a Nigerian bank, anyway? Especially when there are lots of much safer tax havens.

And that should be your next major sign that this is bunk. The only people who can stockpile that much cash in Nigeria are people you probably don’t want to meet. Your average imported person doesn’t make that much and if they did, they’d be spending most of it on security personnel so they don’t get kidnapped.

Fortunately,the bank issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have the account confiscated within the next 30 official working days. Since i have been unsuccesfull in locating the the relatives for over 4 years now, I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased since you are from the same country, so that the proceeds of this account valued at US$12.3 million can be paid to you and then you and me will share the money as depending on how you want us to share it.

Four years. Something here don’t add up. Just watch Ancestors in the Attic. They dig up the most obscure family relations from 300 years ago in a mere half hour. You’d think someone using the power of the internet could figure that out in four years…

I have all necessary legal documents that can be used to back up any claim we may make. All I require is your honest co-operation to enable us see this deal through. I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law.

This is designed to make you feel safe. The reality is that you’re totally protected from any breach of the law. You’re free to send money to whomever you like. You just won’t get it back, nor make any headway on getting these bastards to trial for swindling you when you send it out. Under the current legal system, they’re more protected than you are.

Get in touch with me on my private Telephone number [A PHONE NUMBER IN NIGERIA, ABOUT THE ONLY LEGIT THING IN THIS EMAIL], and or my email address: [USUALLY A YAHOO! FRANCE ADDRESS] for further details.
Best regards,

N/B:-This e-mail is intended solely for the addressee(s). It contain confidential and privileged information and we do not waive that privilege if it is received in error. If you receive it by mistake kindly contact us.

In other words, if you received this by “mistake”, you might still be eligible for the cash, since no-one else has contacted us. And you’re all related, anyway, right? I mean, how many people are there in whatever country you happen to be in? C’mon, you’ll love having all this money. It’s not like it’s gonna cost you, right?

That’s the irony, too. They don’t tell you about the cost to get this cash. It ain’t cheap — I’ve heard $50,000 or more. Which of course you lose without any hope of ever seeing a dime of it again. And you get nothing except a swift kick in the nads when you realise you’ve been taken for a big ride.


I heart spam.

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