November 24, 2009

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam


Two days ago, I got a comment from a 'Sanjay' who claimed to work in a busy spam writing center in India. As I'm a basically trusting soul, I took Sanjay at his word, although I'm sure some of my cynical readers might suggest that particular comment was a hoax actually written by someone in Rhode Island who sails a Laser.

Be that as it may, I'm choosing to ignore any such cynical allegations as the comment sets me up very nicely for this post, and frankly, I didn't have anything else ready to go today, anyway.

I've mentioned before that I work for a newspaper. I probably haven't mentioned that it's a fairly large one which employs over a thousand people (that number used to be much higher, but that's the subject for another post).

What does this have to do with Sanjay the spam writer? Well, large organizations like the one I work for tend to get a lot more spam than individual users, for various technical reasons I won't go into here - mainly because I don't understand most of them.

Our efficient IT department has set up sophisticated (their word, not mine) spam filters for capturing all of this spam, but those filters don't immediately discard the spam. This is so that users can review what has been caught in the filter in case something important was mistakenly identified as spam.

A summary of the spam caught in the filter is sent to us every day for our review. We see the subject line and sender for every item, without actually receiving the e-mails (which is good, since most of them contain computer viruses or links to web sites that will infect your computer with all the viruses you could ever want, free of charge).

So where am I going with this? Oh right, the daily list of spam I get from good folks like Sanjay. I thought I would share some of this with you as a public service so that you will know how to recognize spam when you see it. Here are the subject lines from some spam that was sent to me recently and how our sophisticated spam filters were able to recognize them as spam.

Perfect Presents For Perfect Season (from hemorrhoidUW)

On the surface, this looks like an innocent enough offer. Since the holiday shopping season now begins on October 1st, by now we're all looking for nice presents for family and friends. The problem with this e-mail is the name of the sender - hemorrhoidUW. It's not likely you'll find holiday presents that are perfect for anyone from someone named hemorrhoidUW.

If You Don't Feel Like Just Being Average, Try Some Enlargement

These spammers can be very clever. I don't know how they figured out I used to be a photographer. But what distinguished serious photographers from amateurs in the old days before digital cameras and inkjet printers was that amateurs took their pictures to the drugstore for processing, while real photographers made their own enlargements in darkrooms. That's darkrooms, not dark rooms. I'm even more amazed that the spam filter was able to figure all of that out.

Be A Stallion In Bed (from Margery)

I don't know why Margery thinks I'm a fan of the original Godfather movie, but that certainly wasn't my favorite scene, and I don't know why Margery spells her name that way, either.

Review Annual Social Security Statement (from

Wow, look how easy the government is making it for us to review our social security accounts online. Just enter your name, home address, and social security number on the website and they'll tell you anything you need to know. I wonder why this got tagged as spam. It says it's from the gov, right?

No Fraud Or Hoodwink In Our Enterprise! Never-losing Rules of Gambling!

I can't believe how lucky I was to get this. For years, people have been trying to figure out how to win at gambling, and here's everything I need to know on one website. And it must be legitimate - they tell you right up front there's absolutely no hoodwink.

Made From High Quality Materials So It Not Only Look, But Feels Like Genuine Too

I'm not sure exactly what they're selling here, but it came from the same folks who know I'm experienced at enlargements.

Any e-mail sent to me that is also from me.

One of the latest spammer ploys is to use your own e-mail address as the sender's e-mail address. Isn't this kind of a tip-off that this may not be a legitimate e-mail? I send very little e-mail to myself, and hardly ever is it anything about products that look and feel genuine.


I don't understand why none of the people who sell Viagra or Cialis online know how to spell the names of their own products. What I really want to know is whether women receive spam for Viagra and Cialis, too.

If you're a woman and receive more than four of these spams in the same day, call your physician at once.



  1. O Docker, I wanted to say that this is one of the most brilliant posts I've ever read, but your spam filter won't let me. How do you do it?

  2. Please, please help me.

    My father, who was emperor of Nigeria, recently died of an accident leaving the sum of US DOLLERS 423,030,302.25 in an account in the BANK USA SPECIAL TRUST (BUST)

    I wish to find a Christian gentleman who can help me transfer this money for a small fee of 10%.

    If you are such a gentleman please let me know asap by email giving me your online bank account details so I can login to do the transfer.

    Please be very secret as we all wish success

    Best happiness!

    Mr Captain (orphan now)

  3. Dear Mr Anon, if you're going to try and write fake spam, at least included some authentic looking spelling mistakes.

  4. Dear Anonymous, my sincere condolences for your double loss.

    The Bank USA Special Trust (BUST) has been much in the news this year, stateside. Unfortunately, most of the bank's funds were invested in mortgage-backed securities, which, you may have heard, have not been doing especially well recently.

    It is a pity that your father, the emperor, didn't choose to keep his money in a Nigerian mattress.

    This may also explain the shocking stories that appeared earlier this year in the Nigerian fashion press about the emperor's new clothes.

  5. Dennis Moore12/7/09, 1:34 AM

    I don't want your spam. Your lupins or your life!

  6. This redistribution of wealth is more complicated than I thought.