Crabby Old Lady’s ISP and domain registrar, through which her email is filtered to her inbox, work hard to identify and quarantine spam. Her email program, which employs Baysian filters, is another stopgap that can be taught to identify spam by Crabby herself.
Nevertheless, about 60 to 70 percent of arriving email is spam and Crabby doesn’t want to imagine what her inbox would look like if the several filters were not in place.
After years of daily inbox scrubbing, Crabby is adept at identifying spam at a glance but recently, out of curiosity, she undertook a minor exercise in examining what arrives and as in the past, she is astonished at the stupidity of spammers.
All but about 1 percent are messy, incoherent, unreadable and most of all, so clearly scams that Crabby believes anyone who loses money to these miscreants deserves it. Here is one email that is particularly idiotic. There is no mention of what the product is (Crabby has cleaned it up a bit for readability.)
“Take our Challenge. Check it out Just SEE What Happens. Our online automated system Really Does Work and we will PROVE it. You can sit back and watch it Grow BEFORE You Get Started. “It's really that simple Just grab an ID. Watch all the people come in and you decide if this is right for you. Test-drive the system for as long as you want. You will be notified when you have a c hec k coming. Don't lose all the people that are waiting to be placed under you. Grab and confirm your ID”
Really, now. What is that about and why would a spammer think anyone would respond?
Spam falls into predictable categories. There are the ever-present dubious health products including fake Vi*gra and Ci*lis substitutes – “all natural” of course – and spammers apparently believe we will all succumb to colon cleansing as a miracle cure for everything that ails us.
The success of such television shows as CSI has, for years now, flooded her inbox with offers to teach Crabby forensic science and the infamous Nigerian scam, along with its copycats, continue to promise Crabby several million dollars if she will front tens of thousands of dollars to transfer the money to her.
Sweepstakes and make-millions-at-home rackets have always been big, but the economic crisis has spawned a surge in foreclosure prevention, credit and real estate swindles. Several people have been telling Crabby recently that they can save her New York apartment from impending foreclosure (using the exact street address) even though she sold it in 2006.
Someone named John Commuta or Comuta has somehow evaded all of Crabby’s spam filters for years with a “debt-to-wealth” program and in the past month, “Mr. Stock” has been trying to sell Crabby a “stock robot,” certain to make her wealthy with no effort on her part.
The latest college degree spam not only promises “no book, no exams, no study,” but will provide grade transcripts to potential employers – or so says the message.
Television is moving into the spam game. The “snuggle blanket” turns up in Crabby’s inbox about a dozen times a day and even the ubiquitous Video Professor is at it now, although the URLs in those emails do not link to the Video Professor website.
Perhaps because of the topic of this blog, the largest percentage of spam Crabby receives involves anti-aging products. You can look exactly 14 years younger, says one, with their “muli-peptide youth serum.” And we all know how effective that is, don’t we.
Another promotes non-surgical Botox that “works in just seconds” and Cheryl Tiegs or someone impersonating her has a “proven alternative to Botox.”
Not a single piece of spam has ever been or ever will be useful.
For years, with a sigh, Crabby has waded through the detritus to find the jewels in her inbox – comments from readers, notes from friends, etc. – and has long squelched her anger, accepting spam as fact of online life. But lately, she is tiring of the daily grind, allowing the spam to pile up because it has become too damned tedious and time-consuming to sort.
Every now and then, Crabby just says, “screw it” and deletes the entire inbox. But that has led to missed personal messages, not to mention the possibility of lost electronic bills. For a time, she tried color coding email addresses of friends and businesses she deals with, but keeping up with that is as tedious as sorting out spam, and messages from new blog readers don’t get flagged.
Email is one of the great inventions of modern life, but spammers have ruined it for Crabby. She once looked forward to the morning email with her coffee; now it makes her tired before she’s even started her day.
Isn’t there something that can be done?
[At The Elder Storytelling Place, Johna Ferguson supplies us with a list of Liquids for Your Life.]