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Spamming In Vain 23 May 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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Another day, another dollar... you sit down at your PC, flick the switch and wait for it to boot up.

You then click the icon that will launch you onto the Internet and hear the familiar sound of your modem dialing -- followed briefly by a noise that can best be described as an angry cat swimming underwater as your modem talks to your ISP.

The modem falls silent, your computer logs onto the network and your email starts downloading.

Let's see -- one "FAST CA$H", two "FREE CABLE TV DECODER" messages, a couple from that mailing list you're subscribed to and... what's this -- "Your Biography?"

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You open the email and it says:

Congratulations, your have been recommended to the National Biographical Foundation for inclusion in the 2002 edition of the America's Top One Thousand.*

Inclusion is absolutely free.

Please help us record your achievements, by submitting your application without delay. Http://www.nationalBios.org
Respectfully,
Michael N. Mathews
Managing Editor

Wow! How about that -- someone thinks YOU are important enough to have your biography included in a list of America's Top 1000 people!

But hang on -- you live in New Zealand -- what's the guts?

Don't worry -- a visit to the site will reassure you and explain that: "The world has become a small place. We do include many international biographies."

Wow -- so it's all on -- you're going to be famous right?

Oh please... I certainly hope nobody has been caught out by this scam.

Let's take a closer look at that email. Although it purports to come from Mr Michael N Mathews from the National Biographical Foundation -- the sender's email address is gettingslowwe00@humangeo.su.se How odd that a US-based organisation with its own domain name would use a Swedish email address!

What's even more interesting is that the email headers betray the fact that it was sent from what appears to be an open mailserver in Hungary. Gosh, you'd think that such a prestigious "Foundation" would have a mailserver of their own don't you?

The final piece of evidence is the address to which the email was sent -- one which I published on a webpage about three years ago and which was not linked to me (or any other individual) -- clearly they've used a spam-list for this mailing.

It takes little more than a casual examination of the facts to uncover that this is a scam -- designed to simply confirm your email address and trick you into providing the addresses of friends and family through the nomination form.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Aardvark! You're a Banned Site!... - Rob
  • International directory scams... - Ian
  • A fool logging on every minute... - Philip
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    Perhaps there really is a book associated with this scam -- odds are that anyone who responds to this email is probably also stupid enough to fork out money for a book with their name in it.

    Let's face it, put your ego aside and ask yourself -- how credible is any book that would list you (or me) as one of the top 1000 people in the USA?

    I notice a very clever little disclaimer in the smallest font-size supported by plain HTM which says: "Publication conditioned on sale of sufficient books."

    If you receive one of these emails -- delete it -- and do not under any circumstances nominate anyone, not even the NZ DMA, however deserving they might be as a result of their enlightened attitude to email marketing.

    Unfortunately I suspect that thousands of people have responded to this little ploy that preys on their vanity.

    As they say about fools -- there's one logging on every minute :-)

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