Last Edited
01/31/2006

Email Spam


If spam was just this easy to spot

January 31, 2006

Dear honest person,

  I am a liar. I will take your information and make money off it how ever I can. I have a computer program that can send spam to everyone with 1 click of a button so its no work for me. I hide my identity and m1sp3ll w0rds s0 y0ur sp@m f1lter can n0t stop me, but some how people still think the offer is legit. Lucky for me everyone knows a John or Mary or Bill and if I use those names in the address, some one will fall for it, heck I have a script that just reads your address book. 
You good hearted people out there help me when I use phrases like "forward this to everyone you know" or even tempt you with impossible money like "bill gates will send you $100 for each email you forward". I can also scare you with stuff like "if you do not send this to everyone, you will have bad luck for 7 years". Hey, I checked with my liar group and many of my liar "friends have done this", "it really works" and "I know someone who got a check".  Oh, thank-you for including all those email addresses in the jokes you forward, not only are the jokes funny but getting all of those free email addresses to add to my lists is just easy money.
Me being a liar, you can believe me when I say I will do something. Just click here!  I will remove your address if you just verify your identity by sending me your social security number, 4 credit card numbers, your drivers license number, and your mom's maiden name. Also, I do not live near you, maybe even in another country, so your silly laws can not stop me. 
You can trust me, I am a liar.

 Liar-ly yours
 Spam Person


Contents

IS it just me or does Spam Email suck??  Here are some of my rants about Spam email and why you might be getting more than your share.  IF Spam was not a bad thing, then why do they go to such lengths to disguise their messages?  They realize that 99.9% of the world do not want it, the hope that even .0001% of the emails they send out result in some kind of sale.  Telemarketing also hides their identity, know that most people do not want to talk to them and hope that 1% of their calls result in some kind of sale.  With email, there is no cost in generating spam so it will be around as long as there is email.  The Anti-spam software companies are also trying to generate their own business by sending out spam selling their own software.  
Did you know in 2005, spamming was a $100 million dollar business?  How do these people make their money?  Who are the idiots that fall for this? (if you were smart enough to find this page, I hope this excludes you)


What is Spam?? - Hormel came out with a wonderful product called Spam (their highest sales are in Hawaii) but some how junk email also was given the name as well.  Spam Email is basically unsolicited email that you do not want.  As of Feb 2003, experts have calculated that 2/3rds of the email on the internet is spam and it will only get worse.  (my experience is 75-80% emails I receive are spam)

Spam emails are emails that you are receiving that you did not request including adult oriented sites, financial "advice", credit card deals, specials on software, fake virus warnings, emails that say "send this out to everyone you know", and even spam on how to get rid of spam (they make their own market).  Most spam email is easy to identify as it might be addressed to someone else, made to sound like it was "an insider deal accidentally sent to you", sent to many names on your domain (bill@spam.com, mike@spam.com, mark@spam.com), it has very vague language in the subject line "you might like this", and so on.


How am I getting Spam?? - The key thing for Spammers to send out their spam is to find valid and working email addresses.  The Spammers get your email address from many sources including:

  • You signed up - you can sign up for mailings lists that are actually spam emails and not know it.  Have you read the Yahoo Privacy Policy lately?  At the bottom of their screens, they flat out say they collect information about you.

  • You signed up and was sold - lots of companies are opening up or selling their email lists to spammers.  Yahoo changed their privacy policy to open their mailing lists.  Read the privacy policy when you sign up.

  • Your email address was on a website - Spammers scour websites looking for email address.  I am getting emails sent to me where they stole my address off of my website trying to sell me website authoring services.

  • Someone emailed you a joke - Your email address is now in a joke email circling the globe and you have no idea who's email box it will end up in.  TIP: If you are going to do joke emails, remove people's address and email headers, and use "bcc" to send them so no one else's email address will appear... or just don't send them.

  • You were sent email and replied - Once you have been sent Spam, if you reply for any reason, the Spammers know your email address is alive and kicking.  Even if you ask to be removed, they keep sending you email.  TIP: Never reply to email, even to ask to be removed will not remove you and email will multiply.

  • You were sent email and your email program replied - Email can be sent to you with a "read receipt request" attached to it.  When you read the email even just to delete it, your email program responds to the read receipt request letting the spammer know that your address is valid and working... and they send you more spam.  By default, most email programs will automatically send the reply.  TIP: Go into your email settings and change your email program to not automatically send receipts.

  • You were sent HTML Email and just read it - HTML Email is pretty and can include animated pictures and formatted text (see below).  

  • You were sent HTML Email and have a preview pane open - All it takes for HTML email to work is to have your preview pane open on Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express.

  • You used a web mail to check your email - If your email is viewed with a web browser (like hotmail, yahoo, or even your work email) most of them are set to automatically view html emails as html, and the above problem alerting the spammers that your address is valid applies.  Most of the web browser email programs do not have options to turn off HTML viewing but more of them are offering a spam filter.  Have you read the Yahoo Privacy Policy lately?  At the bottom of their screens, they flat out say they collect information about you.  

  • Random Chance - If your email address has common words in it, you could have gotten a spam email from a Spammer who just made random emails. (not much you can do about this)

*** 

Even if you somehow stop all of these avenues, your email address will still wind up in the hands of the spammers.

*** 

Why won't it stop??  There is not cure for spam.  If you have an email address, you will eventually get spam email.  Since the internet is a worldwide network, there is no law or agency that could stop them.

DO NOT REPLY TO THESE EMAILS: Some spam will include a "click here" or "reply to here" to get your name removed from the list.  They might take you off their list but will add you to many more.  They can take your working address and sell it to other spammers for use.  Some email even quote legislation from Congress about how they are complying with anti-spam laws but I still do not believe them.  (Someone has sent you an email you did not want, hid their identity, and you are wanting to believe their click here statements??)

How do you get rid of it??  Ignoring spam does not make it go away.  Replying to spam does not make it go away.  Taking the time to protest the spam to the authorities will not make it go away.  Since spam will not go away, all you can really do is have a way for spam to never reach you or mark it so you know what it is if it does reach you.  A Spam Filter program is a program that will mark your email "Spam" somehow and let you know before you open it that it most likely is spam.  There are many many programs for getting rid of spam.  Use your favorite search engine and search for Anti Spam programs.

    • DO NOT REPLY TO THESE EMAILS: some spam will include a "click here" or "reply to here" to get your name taken off the list.  They take you off their list and add you to many more.  (Someone has lied to you, sent you an email you did not want, hid their identity, and you are wanting to believe their click here statements??)

    • The best way is to use your ISP or Email provider's spam filtering.  They will keep the filters current so you don't have to.  They are also better suited to stop spam at the source.  Some companies have filters setup so that you will never receive the offending email.  If your email service does not have a spam filter, there are companies that do this for you.  SpamCop is one such place.  Problem is sometimes some of your email that is not spam gets caught up in the filters and it might not get through to you.

    • Most email programs now come with build in filters or rules to help you sort email.  You can go thru and try to setup filter rules to separate out the bad email.

    • Norton Internet Security, Spam Pal, and Popfile are some Spam filtering programs that help to identify what is spam and what isn't.  You have to setup these programs then setup your email program to deal with email marked as spam.  Once these are setup, you can have your email program automatically delete them all or manually go thru and check what is getting deleted.  You can find many anti-spam software programs in your favorite search engine (like google) or software sites (webattack, versiontracker, tucows)

(May 2003 - I am currently using Popfile and am having great success with it)


How can HTML Email be used to track me??

Those pretty pictures have to get downloaded from somewhere.  The HTML tag for an image is <img src="spam.jpg">.  Spam.jpg is the picture your HTML Email will download so you can see it.  The path for the image can be made so that they know your email address is working like so:
 <img src="http://www.spammers.com/image/youremailaddress/spam.jpg">
The path for this image is now set so that when you open or view or pre-view the HTML Email, your Email program or web browsers will follow the HTML instructions, go to the "http://www.spammers.com" website and download the "image/youremailaddress/spam.jpg" picture for you to see.  Then you get to see the the choo choo train.  Now, all the spammers  have to do is look in their log file and see if "youremailaddress/spam.jpg" was ever accessed.  If so, then they know "youremailaddress" is alive and kicking.

Another trick is for them to setup the email to have a "click here" link in it.  You click on the link and they instantly know that your email address is working or not.  The click here link might go to "www.spamers.com/sendmespam/myemailaddress.htm" and by just clicking it, you have signed up for more.

Who would go to that kind of trouble?  Someone who spent 5 minutes writing a script to automate the whole process and bulk feed in email addresses to check.


What is the difference between
 Email and HTML Email??

Regular  or text email

HTML Email

Dear John Smith,

We have a widget on sale, they only cost $99 but buy now and you only have to pay $1.  Go to our website and you can get this great deal.

Signed

Scam dude!

Dear John Smith,

We have a widget on sale, they only cost $99 but buy now and you only have to pay $1.  Go to our website and you can get this great deal.

Signed

Scam dude!

 

This is very straight forward.  No hidden tricks.

There is many things that can be hidden in an HTML email.
  • The image can be gotten from a website which means it can be tracked.  Once tracked a computer knows your address is alive and ready for more spam.
  • The email can contain a script that just tells the spammer's computer that the email made it.
  • The email can have a script that acts like a virus (your antivirus software should catch this)

HTML Emails will also take up more space in your email box, sometimes 10-20 times as much space as a text email

Behind the scenes of this email

 

Dear John Smith,

We have a widget on sale, they only cost $99 but buy now and you only have to pay $1.  Go to our website and you can get this great deal.

Signed

Scam dude!

 

 

<blockquote>

<p><font face="Courier" size="4">Dear John Smith,</font></p>

<p><font face="Courier" size="4">We have a widget on sale, they only

cost $99 but buy now and you only have to pay $1.&nbsp; Go to our

website and you can get this great deal.</font></p>

<p><font face="Courier" size="4">Signed</font></p>

<p><font face="Courier" size="4">Scam dude! </font></p>

</blockquote>

</td>

<td width="50%"><font face="Comic Strip MN" color="#0000FF" size="6">Dear

John Smith,</font>

<p><font face="Courier" size="4"><img border="0" src="images/widget.jpg" align="right" width="91" height="129"></font><font size="4" face="CopprplGoth Bd BT">We

have a <font color="#FF0000">widget</font> on sale, they only cost $99

but buy now and you only have to pay $1.&nbsp; Go to our website and you

can get this great deal.</font></p>

<p><font face="Rockwell" size="5">Signed</font></p>

<p><font face="Rockwell" size="5">Scam dude! </font></p>

 

Sorry, you are no closer to having a spam free mail box.  Hopefully you know a little more about where it comes from.  Time for me to go clean out my email boxes of all the spam.


www.knyght.net