In an article from a couple of years ago, Wired Magazine unfortunately discovered the answer to the question, "Who in their right mind would buy something from a spammer?"
The author of the article, Brian McWilliams, stated that "A security flaw at a website operated by the purveyors of penis-enlargement pills has provided the world with a depressing answer to that question. An order log left exposed at one of Amazing Internet Products' websites revealed that, over a four-week period, some 6,000 people responded to e-mail ads and placed orders for the company's Pinacle herbal supplement. Most customers ordered two bottles of the pills at a price of $50 per bottle."
Let me stop here and say that that is the single most depressing piece of news that I've heard in years. It makes me sad and mad. I'm smad. The fact that such desperate and gullible people walk among us? Pass the Kool-Aid please.
According to one study I saw, spammers are getting an 8% response rate. I knew that those in the spam business had to be seeing some kind of profit or else why bother? But, still, to be faced with the evidence It's caused me to take a closer look at the spam that I am bombarded with on a daily basis.
Today I received a message with the subject line "Tell Dan I said hi." Inside was this message, "I apologize I have been so last-minute with it. Thanks. in poster the distance. start Lys' head had drooped to my should breast, and my arm was still about district air her. Lys still grade had." Uh .huh? I have no earthly idea what that means or what is actually being sold. Is this effective at all? I'd like to see a security flaw at the company who produced that one so I can take a look at the freaks of sideshow proportions that click through on it.
For a while I was getting spam that had four or five totally unrelated words strung together like "pervert chutney acrimony controlled" or "partisan pigroot mound checkerberry." Why? What does this achieve? And what the heck is a pigroot?
I get a kick out of the grammatically/spelling challenged among the spammers. Such as the one selling cut-rate software: "Quality softs for nearly no monney." I mean, come on, how hard would it be to spell money correctly? Isn't money spammers' raison d'etre?
It's just frightening to know that somewhere there is someone who will click on an e-mail offer for a low-cost mortgage, or charge their credit card for an herbal supplement, a non-prescription drug, or a sexually deprived urban housewife. And somebody will offer up their bank account number so some Ugandan family can deposit its vast fortune until they can get out of the country.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.