When looking for a polite terms to describe spam content I often say “offers to enlarge your breasts or your garden hose or both” making the wink wink association between garden hose and a part of the male anatomy. OK, it gets a few chuckles and as far as I know never offended anybody.
Now, one of the raging spam gangs seems to be taking this literally. I’ve been getting emails with subject lines like
“Say goodbye to your old garden hose once and for all.” and
“Sick of your kinked up, leaky garden hose?” usually accompanied by photos, cheesy video, and an offer to take my money via credit card or some other way.
Putting aside the somewhat phallic nature of the “just turn on the water and watch it expand”…I suggest there are several PhD theses to written about trends in spam as a reflection of what’s on our national (and global) consciousness. Some are predictable, others are weird and creepy.
Looking at my own home-made spam filter list reveals these categories:
Money: Refinance your home, slash your mortgage payment, save on car insurance. Sure it’s ok to shop around online even for something important like these products but really it should be you doing the contacting not some random person in a faraway land pitching to you.
Sex: Meet Russian/Chinese/Aleutian or whatever women; Pick up any girl with these three magic words. Someone flirty clicked on you.
Credit rating: This must be a big fear because almost every day spammers try to lure me to their sites to “check your credit rating because it just went up/down/sideways”. Since I live in Canada, many of their pages terminate in sales pages…often to take a survey and “win” a prize (“participation required”) or to get involved in those notorious “quick bid” auctions.
This is Not Cool: Somone viewed your profile: Yawn, I get googled all the time, and I’m on Facebook/LinkedIn/Zoominfo/Academia.edu etc. for just this reason. I would be annoyed if people didn’t view my profile. But for the average Joe or Jane , the idea that some is cyberstalking you could indeed be creepy.
Obesity: Try this Magic Fruit, Don’t go to the gym, eat this spice, don’t eat that. Send us your money.
Illness: Notably high blood pressure and diabetes, but that was pretty predictable given the state of health in the developed world which of course is the target audience since they have things worth stealing like money and identities.
Aging: An understandable fear, especially for Baby Boomers, but wow I sure don’t want to see any more “shocking” photos of “what this Mom did to her face” unless she’s looking out from prison bars (but scammers are very rarely jailed or even prosecuted.)
Quick Buck Scams, including a particularly nasty subset of ambulance chasing lawyers looking for “victims” of various drugs and medical procedures. I guess they’re allowed to do this, but, hey, not in my inbox, please.
Learn a Foreign Language and (impress your boss, your family, horny women, etc. etc.) This surprised me but I think results from soanners having stolen a credible set of language learning materials e.g from http://www.pimsleur.com/ and trying to resell this stolen intellectual property online.
Of course it’s not hard to come up with wordlists that filter out suspected spam. Then, of course, you have to check your spam filter to make sure you haven’t thrown out the baby with the baby water. I just found two messages from my boss in there, and she wasn’t talking about hoses, magic fruit, credit scores or car insurance. In fact, I have NO idea how her messages got into my spam folder, and that’s creepy.