Sunday, January 11, 2009

I swear it's true

I thought this was unbelievable, so I checked it out on, and it's true!

Internet spam has become such a huge problem that Homeland Security has declared spammers to be terrorists. They are monitoring e-mail volume, and anyone who sends more than 100 e-mails a day will be put on the "terrorist" list. You will have your internet service canceled, and be unable to board an airplane in the US.

The Society for Prevention of Internet Fraud (SPIF) has a petition up at make sure to go sign it to protest this designation. You have the right to send as many e-mails a day as you want, as long as they're not spam!

Make sure to send this to everyone you know so they will know what's going on.


Here's what I want to know: why on earth do people fall for crap like this?? Why is it that people who appear to be otherwise intelligent and reasonable go into instant panic mode when they get some forwarded e-mail "warning"??

If you typed up a note and put it on the windshield of their car, most people would ignore it. Send it snail mail, and they won't even open it. But e-mail it to them, especially if it is clearly an e-mail that has been forwarded multiple times, and they'll swallow it hook, line and sinker.

And if you dare to point out to them that this is yet another forwarded urban legend, or something designed to incite panic, they will argue with you.

Spammers and scammers have gotten clever, it's true. Just like some guy who knows just what to say, how to look into her eyes, to get any woman to fall for him, scammers know how to get people to believe what they say. They'll tell you they've already "checked it on" They'll make it look like it came from a personal friend. They'll drop names. Tell sob stories. Use URLs that are similar to well known companies. Some even go as far as creating look-alike websites.

One e-mail I got recently was made to look like it had images that didn't load, with a helpful link for "if you have any trouble reading this e-mail." I guess people have gotten wise enough, at least, not to click on things so readily.

This willingness to believe anything extends beyond spam, to almost any website. Make it look like "news" and people believe it is. And look at Wikipedia. A fabulous resource- as long as you stay aware of the limitations, that what is posted there may or may not be 100% accurate.

It is often the newbies who fall prey to such things... but not always. The people who produce this stuff are very good at what they do. Advertising and propaganda, not to mention just plain cons, are a science and an art.

I'd like to offer these suggestions that people should be required to read before being allowed to post anything online anywhere:

1. If it tells you to forward it, don't. Just don't. I don't care how funny you think it is, or how worried you are about some impending doom.
2. If it claims to have already been "checked out on," it's a scam.
3. Those pills don't make your penis larger.
4. If they did, no one but you would care.
5. No one legitimate will ever e-mail and ask for your password.
6. Likewise, they will not use e-mail to tell you your account has been canceled... click here now to reinstate it.
7. The more dire the warning, the less likely it is true.
8. If you send forwarded e-mails to any list I run, especially with multiple layers of quotes, and/or don't trim what is quoted in your messages, you will be fed to velociraptors.
9. Don't believe everything you read. Even online. Especially online. Even if it claims all sorts of legitimacy. And even if it looks "real."

Oh... one last thing... just to be safe...
that warning I started with, about spammers being terrorists? I made that up.
Please don't turn it into the latest e-mail warning.


CoyoteFe said...

You are hilarious! In the beginning, I thought you had lost it. And, well, safety warning aside, I predict your object lesson will be featured on snopes and fact check shortly. Ha!

Spartacus Jones said...

Good post.

That "terrorism" thing may be a joke for now. But don't be too surprised if that's exactly what happens.

The internet has skunked the corporate-run Big Media and has become more and more the place where people get their news and pass the truth around faster than a politician can lie.

Watch for some Draconian measures to be imposed to quash that capacity.

Liberty & Justice,


GreenJello said...

And here I was, totally wow-ing that I hadn't yet seen that email hit my inbox. LOL!

I think you should send it to unsuspecting people, and see if it makes it on :)

iman said...

As a webmaster I find this rather annoying. as you said, when 'your account has been canceled click HERE to get it back' is used by spammers it means that people become accustomed to it being spam: but then when you as a webmaster would like to verify that a person who has a bad temper isn't a robot spamming your message boards you can't send them an e-mail asking 'are you human? if i hurt you will you cry?' because then they mark it as spam. Then it is my fault that i didn't tell them that i was going to ban them from my site unless they proved they were legit, and it is a big mess when they use a friends e-mail to complain on my message boards.

here is another good example: cnn's iReport had a user who posted that they just witnessed steve jobs being shot. it was big news, and no validity filter, no digression by any readers! the number of people who got all scared was huge! the stock plummeted! and then everyone who sold apple stock crosses their legs, looking sheepishly at their feet. $10 they won't learn tho.

here is a great thing to ponder - how do you prove that someone is human online? a simple test? well say there are 100 possible answers - probability says that they can figure out the answer in a few seconds. Use multiple tests? well that computer can get answers faster than you can make them. have a computer make them for you.... the only problem there is that you just prooved that a coputer can make them...

and say you do make some great un-readable captia (the letters you type in to prove you are human) - the bad guys get the image that is scrambled text, turn right around and ask the idiots on a porn site who will do anything to just see the rest of that video to type in the answer, and then the bad guys know code and get an account in gmail or yahoo, and spam us all to death.

~just something to think about - Istvan.