Sunday, January 18, 2009

Viagra, luxury watch and weight loss pitches still flooding e-mail inboxes

Unwanted commercial e-mail, or spam, declined significantly after a major spam-hosting service was shut down in early November last year.
Unfortunately, spam volumes have gradually crept back in the last two months, according to Symantec, a maker of Internet security software.
On Nov. 11, multiple network providers shut down access to McColo.com hosted systems, based on abuse complaints. Silicon Valley-based McColo Corp. rented out servers to clients, including spammers. Spam traffic dropped 65% a day after McColo was shut down.
But now spam volumes are back to 80% of their pre-McColo shutdown levels, Symantec says in its January report called “The State of Spam.”
Spam typically accounts for about 80% of e-mail traffic.
Like many Internet users, I’ve got multiple personal e-mail accounts.
My account with Yahoo Mail is for correspondence with family and friends and some business uses. I use my account with Google’s Gmail for commercial e-mails and newsletters. I’ve also got a couple more I use when some outfit wants an e-mail address, but I don’t want to give them a good one.
In my experience, Yahoo does the best job filtering out spam e-mail. I just don’t get that many spam messages in my bulk e-mail folder.
My Gmail account is a different story. I started getting spam right away, even before I started using that e-mail address for anything. Google does a good job directing these messages to a spam folder, but I still see them.
The junk e-mail to my Gmail account falls into three main categories: sexual (Viagra or penis-enlargement sales pitches), luxury watches for cheap, and weight loss cures (endorsed by Oprah Winfrey!).
The high-school boy in me does get a kick out of the subject lines for the penis-enlargement scams. Here are a few:

“Every locker room will envy you”
“So massive it scared her”
“You'll call it Peter the Great”

I also receive pitches to get university degrees based on my “life experience.” Sounds great. “No examination, no books, no study.” Even better. “No one is turned down.” This explains those occasional news stories where a reporter gets a college degree for their dog.
“The more degrees you have the better your chances and prospects in life. That is the way life is. It is a competitive world,” one e-mail states.
Time to buy my MBA.

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