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The types of products being sold by means of SPAM
In the early days of junk email, a variety of products were on sale, but as time has gone on, the range seems to have narrowed. Most spam is just the usual stuff. It's quite unusual to find anything interesting or different advertised by unsolicited junk bulk e-mail messages. Speculative reasons for this narrowing of the product line range include the idea that most of the vertical markets have become wise to the idea that sending junk e-mail isn't a good idea anymore!
When this page was first written, in 2005/2006, the range had already narrowed to only a few lines, but now in 2008, there are only two or three types of things on sale. This page still tells you about the less narrow range in bygone years, but it now seems apparent that there are only a few spam senders left in the world, and most of those are in the USA. See where are the spam senders ?
In some ways it's like the fact that very few product lines are available "on the black market" because in a free society most things are legal and available by reputable means!
It's quite rare, but if you see a spam message from a genuine company, it's best to warn them politely that they've been caught up in a marketing method which has been discredited.
Here are some of the spamware lines still appearing:
Mortgages / Loans
These usually offer a mortgage rate which is unrealistic, and the messages usually say you have been "PR-approved" for a mortgage. This is all very dubious, and I would seriously question whether you should be arranging a mortgage with someone who spells the word "mortgage" incorrectly! Besides bad spelling being bad for business, it's also possible the senders are spelling the words badly so as to dodge the spam filters! See mortgage spam. If you would prefer to do business with reputable companies who are well-established and known to be honest, there's a helpful list at the pages of loans and finance. If you borrow money, remember you'll have to pay it back at some time.
These messages are likely to enrage you and enlarge the size of your anger greatly. Effective annoyance is provided by the purveyors of various quack medicinal items regardless of whether you have or have not got a deformity of the type described. The marketing is designed to exploit emotional insecurity and ideas about inferiority. Generally the claims made are lies, not just about the product, but about the facts of life. If shoe shops started doing this, you'd regularly see claims that your feet were much too small and that everyone else's feet were size 11 or 12 and that you should buy some bigger shoes, and that all prospective dance partners would insist on you having huge feet.
Fake degrees, diplomas, and other qualifications
Shucks! If I'd known you could get more pay by sending these people a few dollars I could have saved myself from spending years of work at university getting a degree in computer science! See cautionary note about qualifications on qualifications
The expression "OEM Software" probably originally came from the idea of OEM = Other Equipment Manufacturer, where a company can sell machines without the original manufacturer's guarantee or support, but in software the problem is that it's almost impossible to differentiate from pirate software. On pirate software, illicit copied software, a variety of views exist. But even if you have no qualms about using illegally copied software, it's important to avoid paying for it. Pay for an original item of software, but a pirate copy should be free. Yet, in spam it's common to see software on sale for considerable sums of money. Spam senders have a bias towards promoting Microsoft as there is money to be made by selling illegal copies of it, and if Linux caught on then the spam software companies would be out of business! It is amazing to see people are still paying money for software through spam when they could be getting free software which they can copy legally if they move to Linux. So, strange as it may seem, spam is for once on the side of Microsoft!
Various scams including the Nigeria Scam, pyramid schemes, messages pretending to be from your bank, or claiming that you have won the lottery, etc. Many of these look genuine for the first few seconds at a shallow level of thought, but they can be exposed as scams quite easily at a second glance. See the Rogues Gallery for more info on this. Most virus messages rely on you falling for some cheap confidence trick such as clicking on a link or attachment on the basis that you have "visited illegal websites" or that there is a bank security issue or some such thing. See how to avoid catching computer viruses. If the viruses were any good at being spread by infection, surely they'd not need to be sent out by spam? But there's the fact: viruses are so ineffective that most arrive by spam rather than by what the virus writers intended where they spread as an epidemic. Also see chain letters
COMPUTER EVIDENCE WILL DESTROY YOUR LIFE
Really? What is it that you are supposed to have done that is so bad that it will do any harm to your life? Is your status in society so fragile that your misdemeanours and secrets would make any difference if the truth was revealed? The fact is that these days most folk are much more tolerant of these things, and you should not be panicked into buying a history eraser just because some spam senders have scared you into it.
DODGY CASINOS ADVERTISED IN SPAM
Beware of any casino that is promoted via junk email. It's not just the dodginess of the spam marketing method. The style of advertising, the emphasis on "You will win" and "Guaranteed to win a fortune" etc (ie false advertising, irresponsible temptation without due notification of risk), also makes it problematical and seriously ethically questionable. However, there is a more serious tangible problem, which is that a casino advertised in spam may be fake. It may be rigged so you lose most of the time, or it may even be a total scam where you bet money and never get paid any winnings. So, beware! If you want to gamble with real money and have a hope of getting paid if you win, there are some reputable Online Casinos at the Gambling pages here. This doesn't mean you'll win, but at least the games are fair, and if you win, you'll get paid.
There are only a very few casinos advertised in spam, and the names change every few weeks. It is extremely unlikely to be anything other than a total racket. My advice: If you want to gamble online, visit Genuine Casinos instead!
A FAKE ROLEX
One of the most enduring of spam species, the fake Rolex watch is still being promoted by bulk spam campaigns by various companies. Often the subject lines have nothing to do with the selling of watches, either to avoid spam filters or because they are aiming at the less intelligent buyers. My advice on this is: If you want to buy a watch, buy a genuine watch. If you can afford to buy a quality expensive watch, and that's what you want, buy one. Or, buy a less expensive watch if you like. It's possible to get a good watch for a reasonable price, so why buy a FAKE?! It is laughable to see advertisements for "genuine replica Rolex watch". If it's a "replica" then the word "genuine" has very little to do with it.
Gucci and other famous brands being advertised in spam are almost certainly FAKE. So therefore you should avoid. Besides being inferior counterfeit products which are illegal in some countries, they are often not very well made. If you want to pay extra for a designer label, fair enough. But don't buy a fake. Also note that you can get quite good quality luggage which isn't designer label.
STOCK EXCHANGE TIPS BY SPAM
Some special type of stock or micro capped item is set to "explode", but it might be more likely to blow up in your face. Admittedly if enough people are daft enough to be fooled into buying it by spam then the value might go up, but this might be short-lived! See Stockmarket Spam. These things are usually "pump and dump" schemes.
Medications which you could probably get from a pharmacist, available online. Looking some of these up in the BUT (British National Formulary), the spam companies are often much more expensive than the list price. If you want to buy pharmaceuticals online, that's ok, but it's best to find reputable online pharmacy websites rather than buying from spam. Make sure you are paying the right price rather than an inflated price based on lack of knowledge. Also, it's important to buy from somewhere you can rely on, as I have heard of cases where people pay the money and don't receive the goods. Or, even worse, they pay the money and receive fake drugs! In my opinion, if the spelling of the pharmaceutical items has had to be distorted severely to deceive spam filters, it doesn't suggest a 100% honesty rating to start with.
Update on the online drugs business and spam: In addition to the expensive prices and possible fakeness of the medications, it is now looking as if a quite high percentage of spam drug messages are entirely bogus. A clue to this is in the mismatch of the subject line and the stuff in the body of the message. For example, if the subject line says "Tramadol" then surely the message should be about pain-relief. However, when the message body is subsequently about sleeplessness and hormonal body augmentation, it's clearly non-genuine. The whole thing has about as much credibility as if a gang of crooks had robbed the stock of a pharmacist and were flogging it on a market stall unaware of the uses of the specific medications. If this doesn't put you off, consider this: If they are crooks, they might also steal your money.
Many spam messages advertise pornography, and the content of the messages would offend many people greatly. Also, it seems that the types of kinky tendencies catered for are limited to a very small set, probably unrepresentative of the actual tendencies and kinks out there in the world. In truth, many people are into a much more diverse set of kinky behaviours some of which are quite odd and mostly harmless. It's unlikely that the spam senders have your particular persuasion on their list. It takes all types to make a world, and there's nothing to be ashamed of, or at least, not much! Be honest about what you're into and do a few search engine searches, and you'll find you're not alone. We live in an enlightened world now that there is the Internet.
YOUR WEBSITE IS NOT ON SOME OF THE MAJOR SEARCH ENGINES!
The senders are claiming they have discovered your website isn't listed on some search engines and that they can fix this by you paying them a fee and then they'll annoy search engines every month until you are listed. This has many problems: Firstly, the spam senders do not know whether you are on any search engines or not. They just send indiscriminately to everyone. Even Google receives messages saying "We have found that your website is not on search engines" etc. Plus, if I was a search engine I'd not look too kindly on companies badgering me to have their website included. Why would I want to list a site better positioned just because of it being a nuisance? Most search engines are happy for you to submit a request once and that's enough, and it's free. Also see how to get a free website. Also note that in search engine promotion you don't get what you pay for. Some of the services are very expensive, and unnecessary. THIS website has never paid for search engine promotion, and yet it is top for various searches!
CHEAT THE CASINOS
If you are silly enough to believe this, then I am quite happy for you to try it out on my list of casinos and gambling places!
Think carefully: If it was a worthwhile offer, would they be sending out bulk e-mails to everyone? Usually these things are a "work from home" scheme, and you may find that they pay is not as good as had been suggested in the message! Generally, genuine international finance companies do not offer you a job vacancy at a well paid job without having met you first. In contrast, spam senders have been known to send out huge bulk mailings of scam job offers in the hopes of catching gullible people out! The job does not exist, in many cases. Here's some more explanation of what's behind JOB SPAM including how they expect you to apply for the job.
One of the later developments in this is the "Mystery Shopper" vacancy. Be aware: These are not real job vacancies but are typically advance-fee frauds in disguise.
Also, some of these "work from home" rackets involve you laundering money and then sending the proceeds to the crooks via Western Union. Also, stolen cheques are sometimes involved, which will clear at the bank, only to be clawed back a few months later, long after you have parted with your money to the crooks.
Such fake jobs often impersonate genuine companies. You should use independent means to check out the companies yourself.
E-MAIL BULK MARKETING
This is spam advertising spam. Offers to promote your business to millions of (sometimes supposedly opt-in and/or targeted) e-mail addresses. Such messages often contain the line "bulk e-mail is the most effective form of marketing". Oh really? Then take a look at this cautionary tale of someone lured into the spam sending business. The spam companies might offer you a bullet-proof hosting to go with the spam sending campaign. If you get involved you'll probably need it. Do they do bullet proof vests too?
YOUR COMPUTER IS INFESTED WITH SPYWARE
They don't know. They are just trying to scare you. Don't worry about it. See anti spyware and find the answers.
MOVE TO THE USA!
They seem to be offering the Green Card so you can move to the United States. If this was an offer a few hundred years ago it would have been a very good offer (see the inscription on the Statue of Liberty), but nowadays there are more tax-efficient places to move to, many of which are much better at supporting Freedom of the Individual! However, if you must, see USA Green Card Lottery. At least that's a Genuine offer!
Facebook and a few other social networking sites send spam. It's extremely disreputable. Don't get involved. Facebook is probably the worst of the offenders in this. Down with Facebook. Also see Facebook Spam
Dating by spam isn't likely to do you any good. Usually the offers are from people who claim to be women in Russia or Eastern Europe. They usually claim to have characteristics which appeal to the less attractive men. This is a deliberate ploy designed to lure potential victims in. It is of course a scam. More about this at the page of dating scams
Sometimes date scamsters pretend they are replying after a delay, to a message which you have already sent.
There are genuine dating agencies , and although they aren't free of scamsters, they are places where at least some of the people are real.
Jim Desmond has a humorous way of looking at incoming e-mails. See the poem My New Direction
Of the remaining lines of business which still persist in the spam marketing, it has to be questioned if the products are real at all, or if it is just a scam to get you to part with money. If a spam message claims it is "opt in" or that you have subscribed to it, it's often not true. See the opt in lie. Many other spam related issues are covered in the feature about SPAM!
Spam has become so formulaic and predictable that you can almost identify the genuine messages in your sleep. Spam senders make it easy for us. However, every now and then you'll receive a spam message which is unusual and doesn't fit the standard SPAM LINES. It's typically a small company advertising their goods and services, unaware that there's any problem with sending spam! (Don't blame the company, as they are victims who have been duped by a spam marketing company). If you receive such a message, you should write a nice polite reply wishing the honest company good luck getting their money back from their email list suppliers or email marketing campaigners, as it's a poor value-for-money spam campaign and there are much better ways of advertising!
If you run a business and would like to promote it there are much better ways. How about an affiliate program? Also, having some links with some helpful websites, such as this site for example.
If you receive loads of spam and you'd like to do something against it, one thing you can do to spite it is to shop online at websites instead, via such pages as the shopping portal and the famous names. The web is for your convenience, whereas spam e-mail is for your inconvenience!
It's a shame Google will have to be replaced, but it seems to have become the search engine for dimbos. If you type in "enragement pills", it makes stupid assumptions you searched for something else (2012/04).