Happy New Year, You Just Won a Gazillion Dollars!

by Bharat Suneja on January 3, 2011

With the end of holidays comes the beginning of a new year, and this year a new decade. I’ve had a longer semi-vacation in December, and I’m looking forward to the promise of an exciting 2011.

The part that I least look forward to is all the Christmas/New Year spam, some of which inevitably makes it to our Inboxes even with the best of anti-spam filtering tools and practices. Whereas some spam/phishing messages are very well-crafted and make it very easy to believe they indeed are sent by your bank or financial institution, I’m amazed by the stupidity of the spammers who couldn’t make one click on a link or an attachment — even if their life depended on it.

For instance, this message from today which announced I’d just won £ 750,000 from a BBC ONE LOTTERY, sent from an ISP-issued (SBC Global) email address, with a Hotmail reply-to address. It was sent to my Gmail account.

BBC ONE LOTTERY

http://www.bbc.co.uk/lottery/

Wednesday December 29th draw no.1567
Winning numbers 02 03 16 26 34 39 BONUS 49

Dear Email User.

Your e-mail has won you; 750,000.00 GBP from BBC ONE LOTTERY
On our 2010 charity bonanza. The draw no. 1567 brought out your
E-mail address from a Data Base of Internet Email Users and
Qualified you a benefited winner of the stated winning amount.

You are to contact us via e-mail (bbconepayhouseafler@hotmail.co.uk)
Providing the below stated information for process of claims.

Name===Address===Mobile No. ====Sex====Occupation

Lottery Manager.
Mr. Parker Lawson
E-mail: bbconepayhouseafler@hotmail.co.uk
Tel: +44 (70) 100-323.12
Fax : +44-871-253-7448

http://www.bbc.co.uk/lottery/

Does anyone fall for these messages at all? Why do the semi-skilled spammers even bother? Is there some kind of a Spamming 101 class or a beginner’s manual or guide that these guys either couldn’t afford or decided to skip?

I haven’t seen any more spam from the Nigerian 419 scammer/spammer brigade recently. I must admit they sent more entertaining email, most of which involved some dead royalty. At one point I boasted of a collection of tens of thousands of such messages as part of a cherished scripting/research project (consequently dropped because Exchange 2007’s built-in anti-spam filters were doing a great job). I also spent some time reading email exchanges with Nigerian spammers published by scambaiters like this one a few years ago.

Overall, the war against spam has become a lot less interesting. Although an increasing amount of spam is sent every year, our Inboxes seem to receive lesser every year than they did the year before. In terms of the actual amount of spam received by users, we may have won the war against spam.

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