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Regrets of having a good spam filter

Jeff Dray finds that his ISP's spam filter is working so well, he's grown nostalgic for some of the more outlandish email pitches that he used to receive. Do you have a favorite spam mail or phishing attempt?

These days, my inbox usually consists of stuff that either I have either subscribed to or that people I actually know have sent me. My ISP has done a sterling job of making sure that the soiled tide of junk e-mail that slops around the Internet passes me by.

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I found myself getting nostalgic about all those wonderful offers I used to receive, such as the offers to enlarge certain parts of my anatomy. (It occurred to me that had I taken advantage of all of these I would need a wheelbarrow just to get down to the shops.) I shall never now hear how that poor man in Africa got on trying to get his money clear of the oppressive authorities in his country. I was always touched at his generous attitude in offering me such a large cut, simply for being a go-between.

I miss being offered car registrations that look like my name if I squint at it and use a lot of imagination, all for £500, what a bargain!

Now that the spam no longer reaches me, it takes far less time to wade through my inbox, and on the whole, this is a good thing. Despite the efforts of the authorities to control spam, you could liken it to a sack full of wet mud; when you plug one leak, it simply starts again in another place.

The Internet is all things to all people. My neighbors believe that it exists for two reasons: first they are fanatical researchers of their family tree, and second they are the world’s worst for recycled, funny e-mail forwarding. Only yesterday, they forwarded the clip about the U.S. warship demanding that an Irish lighthouse alter course for them. That story is wrong in so many respects; the very thought of a U.S. Navy skipper in the Irish Sea is laughable. Even worse, radar screens aren’t that hard to read that you couldn’t tell land from shipping.

For other people, the Internet is for shopping, and they spend many hours hunting for bargains. In my last office-based job we had unlimited Internet access, mainly for research purposes, but this turned out to be one of the biggest time wasters of all time.

Although annoying, spam is something that defines the Internet and has provided many a chuckle over the years. On the whole I’m glad not to have endless quantities of rubbish in my inbox, although sometimes I miss the funnier and more outlandish attempts to part me from my meager reserves of cash. What are/were your favorite spam e-mails?

21 comments
cdiazb
cdiazb

You are an idiot. Need better things to do.

AV .
AV .

I'm glad I don't have to see it anymore now that our spam filtering is outsourced. I used to handle the spam in-house at work and had to tweak the filters, almost daily before we outsourced. Still, spam has been a source of amusement at times. One of my favorites is the lowermybills graphics. Its cute and annoying, but I won't click on it. EEK!, the porn and things I didn't know people did. No, I don't miss that. Who thinks this stuff up anyway? Sometimes, real emails are considered spam and those are really interesting. Shopping, far away places and far out ideas. You never know what you'll find in the spam trap if you manage it for your company. That stuff I miss. Spam is an issue even with outsourced filters. One that has been pretty prevalent lately and looks really valid are the "Dear Counsel" spams from China. They are a takeoff on the Nigerian 419 scam, but they're pretty slick. They promise partnering with a real Chinese company as their intermediary attorney in the US. In reality, its a collection scheme, but very well done. I work with quite a few attorneys and had at least 3 of them consider it as a real offer (until they spoke to me). Convincing to them, but not to me. I'm a spam afficionado. AV

Geek3001
Geek3001

A US warship and an Irish lighthouse? That is a new variation to me. The version I remember is one involving rank and size of ship. The bigger ship with the admiral on it is telling the other 'ship' with the enlisted man in charge to move out of the way. The enlisted man 'wins' when he says he is a lighthouse. By the way, has there been any US warship groundings in the British Isles recently? They can be memorable and the memories can last for decades.

noorman
noorman

I regret having a bad Spam filter (from my ISP); it classes too much stuff as Spam when it isn't, so it 's useless. Figured that out soon enough when some emails didn't come through. I 've switched from 'auto-remove' to 'label'. Now, when it thinks there is Spam, it just gets marked. Still there are emails being marked Spam which are clearly not, but what can I do about that ???

csmith.kaze
csmith.kaze

nope. Have to say that I have never said "well, shucks. I sure wish I had more spam in my mailbox" almost as much as I want snailmail spam.

reisen55
reisen55

Dear Mr. xxxx. I am writing this with tears in my eyes and pray to God that you can help me. I am stranded in Ethiopia with $37,000,000.05 to my name and need to transfer it to an offshore account in Switzerland. Only YOU can help me do this highly illegal transaction and wind up in a federal prison. I beseech you to hear my plea and do whatever you can for me. With tender love Rosario

Jay_H
Jay_H

Unforutnately the spam filter has periodically refused me my legitimate mail (even after trying to explain to my ISP I want this) I prefer my setting set fairly loose. I'd much rather delete a lot of junk than miss something important.

LyleTaylor
LyleTaylor

Seems my luck has run out. I used to be constantly winning some foreign lottery. Now what am I going to do to get some extra money???

moktarino
moktarino

I've taken to convincing those African chaps to send me fraudulent checks with amusing "joke names" via UPS next-day-air. Hugh Jazz got his money, but I. P. Freley is on his 3rd strike... P*st*n* keeps them from my inbox, so I get my fix by searching the spams of our whole organization :p

SKDTech
SKDTech

I remember that Navy warship vs Lighthouse story although I have seen many names and locales attributed in the many times I have seen it. Of course being in the Navy and working on shipboard weapon systems at the time I first saw it I knew it to be a tall tale.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Reversal of a common notion, as CG IT remarks, reveals a lot about us.

CG IT
CG IT

They suddenly weren't getting any mail. They didn't realize that 99% of the mail they were getting was spam. Sort of funny because getting mail and going through it seemed to indicate a public connection. Once the spam was gone, its as if they became isolated.

darpoke
darpoke

from your fascinating schedule. Nice article, Jeff. Lunchtime chuckle? Check.

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

Setup postini for your email and forgot the spams. I don't know what is spam from two years ago... Postini is the best antispam solution. My hotmail account is the oposite, I get all kinds of promotions and spam, but I can't do anything against that because this account have 14+ years.

a.barry
a.barry

Although it's no joke, since some people actually fall for the scams, the "honourable Dr ... formal treasurer of .." who needs help transferring money is always interesting as it tries to be topical. It would be interesting to see a collection of these plotted along a timeline of world events. Mac Mail has a pretty good spam filter. It flags messages as junk, and as you mark them "not junk" it learns to accept these.

ijusth
ijusth

well to me the joy of having them send you a check would be that I didn't spend a dime and that they wasted money on next day postage. If you can tell us all where these guys are and what your tricks are we can all use the same tricks and maybe bankrupt them. I recall years ago when there used to be companies using snail mail to repeatedly bother you for buying insurance or other unneeded stuff. They would send you a postage paid card for a reply. I read somewhere advise that you could tape that card to a box inside of which there was a brick so that they would have to pay an exhorbitant fee.

beldar33
beldar33

Thanks for the humor...will remember to watch for those Yellow Rivers that I.P is so famous for~

AV .
AV .

I've used it for a year now at work and it has cleaned up the spam nightmare we used to have at work when we tried to manage spam in-house. AV

fonman805
fonman805

Hotmail (MSN, Live, etc.) has a dept. that deals with spam, as do all ISPs. Forward spam, as an attachment, to report_spam(at)hotmail(dot)com. Even better is SpamCop(dot)net. Their system determines the actual sender from the message header and then sends spam reports to that ISP and any found in the body of the message as well. Both methods require manual intervention, but will cut down the amount of spam you receive over time. I've kept a free Juno account for 15+ years and SpamCop has helped clean it up to the point where I get only a few spam messages a month there.

ijusth
ijusth

my filters put stuff into the spam folder even after I tell it tht both the sender and domain are in the safe category. I use both the right mouse click and adjust it and then click on the not spam button and the same groups stuff always ends up there.

dolo724@
dolo724@

If you do get such a check or money order, it's more than likely a fake/forgery. Do Not Cash or Deposit it! A friend (not me, darn it) did get some postal money orders in such an attempt. He took them to the post office, where they were confiscated. High hopes, long lesson.

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