Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
The Internet Spam

How the Spam Industry is Sustained 371

mOoZik writes "The BBC has an interesting article about spam and why it's still around. According to a survey, nearly 1/3 of users have clicked on spam messages and 1/10 have bought products advertised therein. "If no-one responded to junk e-mail and didn't buy products sold in this way, then spam would be as extinct as the dinosaurs.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How the Spam Industry is Sustained

Comments Filter:
  • 1 in 10? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:22PM (#12030537)
    That's an average right? Because I can't see how 10% of people have bought stuff from spam. I think that guy who likes buying spam stuff is driving the average up.
    • Re:1 in 10? (Score:5, Funny)

      by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:26PM (#12030595) Journal
      I think that guy who likes buying spam stuff is driving the average up.

      BTW, I would like to make the public announcement that I have a basement filled with cases of VI@AGRA. If anyone wants any, please reply to this post, I'll be more than happy to ship some to you at a reduced cost.

    • 10%? pshhh!

      50% voted for Bush.
    • If no-one responded to junk e-mail and didn't buy products sold in this way, then spam would be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

      There's always going to be that one jackass who responds to spam.

      Even if a spammer's bandwidth costs are more than income, they can use the millions of friendly bots to do their bidding.
    • People buy crap from spam?!? ok, fine, but why cant the morons that buy this junk, and the scammers that sell it just get together and leave the rest of us in peace?

      Why do they have to constantly try to get around filters, steal resources, forge headers etc?

      Ideally there would be an isolated island or small rock in the depths of outer space that these people could go and do their 'business' on, and leave the rest of us alone.

    • Yeah really. What's the median and the mode?
    • Re:1 in 10? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Also, as far as the original topic goes . . . there is no time domain given . . . which may imply that 10% of people have bought something from spam sometime during the last 15 years or so since spam has been around. Considering the time domain, I don't think that 10% is very high. That would be less than 1% per year.

      I would hope that this 1% represents a portion of each year's internet newbies . . .

      However, like most statistics quoted in the press, there isn't really enough information to draw a very d

    • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:43PM (#12031312) Journal
      She had some cheerful business cards. Turns out she'd gotten them "free" from a web site she heard about in an email. Of course, the shipping for the 250 "free" cards cost about $7, so she ended up paying about what should would have if she'd gone to a reputable printer. My wife and I looked at each other sadly and decided it wasn't likely to be worth trying to educate her...
    • Re:1 in 10? (Score:3, Funny)

      by AliasMoze ( 623272 )
      Be on the lookout for a verile male with a sixteen-inch penis, a stack of college diplomas, all the descrabled satellite TV he can watch, and low low mortgage rates.
  • by kryogen1x ( 838672 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:22PM (#12030539)
    From TFA:

    "The list of words most commonly hidden by the spammers from anti-spam software reveals that most spam is about the old favourites: money, drugs and sex," said Mr Cluley.

  • by heauxmeaux ( 869966 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:22PM (#12030544)
    and my mortgage has never been longer or harder.
    • So did I (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nc_yori ( 870325 )
      I hear you on that. I've felt great since I decided to refinance my...kneecap *ahem*. Seriously, though, I'm often amazed at how ignorant the general public can be about Spam and junk emails. I understand that some spammers are very good at what they do, but doesn't it just make you lose faith in humanity knowing that someone, somewhere, has chosen to actually open a message titled something like "drew S0MMA, V1AAGRRA, V1C0DD1N, C1AAL1S, \/ALLIUM, XANAA, C0DE1NE, Z0LOFT AT L0W somewhere end!!!!". Wow.
      • Re:So did I (Score:3, Insightful)

        by northcat ( 827059 )
        What would you do if you see an Alien? Whatever you'd do, in million years from now, an 'Alienologist' would call it stupid. It's the same thing to a new computer/internet users. They have no fucking idea how things work. Have some respect, it's not stupidity, it's lack of knowledge and experience. Just like you and me lack knowledge and experience in *some* field.
      • Re:So did I (Score:5, Insightful)

        by spectre_240sx ( 720999 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:04PM (#12030957) Homepage
        It's pretty messed up, indeed. I remember the days when everyone was worried about this whole "online purchasing" thing. Everyone thought that it was just some sham to take peoples credit card numbers. Now people will buy products from companies that advertise in a sketchy manner and don't even spell things correctly? It's definately a bit frightening.
  • 1 in what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by danormsby ( 529805 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:23PM (#12030550) Homepage
    But what ratio have received the $43M from an fallen African state?
    • But what ratio have received the $43M from an fallen African state?

      It never ceses to amaze me what sort of people fall for that gag or one of its variants. I recently saw a news show on CBS about the victims of these scams. The list included and Engineer a Doctor and a Schoolteacher. You would think people with that level of education would know better? I suppose it puts some weigh behind the old adage: "...educated beyond their intelligence".
      • Re:1 in what? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rpozz ( 249652 )
        Remember that academic skill != common sense, in fact they can often be inversely proportional to one another.
  • by MykeBNY ( 303290 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:24PM (#12030562)
    That should really be one third of people who choose to respond to telephone calls to answer surveys. I think that is a substantial skew in their results right there.
    • The details of the survery were not included in the article, so I couldn't just make that assumption in the blurb. Unless I am mistaken, in which case I stand corrected.

    • Yes, and it to this I say "thank you".

      From all aspiring web sites out there that must use some sort of ad scheme to stay alive thanks you as well. thanks your service. GoogleAds, Party Poker, Amazon, Gratis Network and the rest thank you...

      Some of us just filter out ads, and for that I thank evolution. We filter out near-IR along with other "colors" [] and evolution has produced specimens such as myself that don't notice that OKI advertisement at the top printing messages to me...

      Joking aside, I s
  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:24PM (#12030572)
    Damn. Of the 20 people on our floor, 2 of them have succumbed to this crap. 15 of the 150 people in the company.

    The clue by four is gonna get a workout tomorrow.

  • by Juvenall ( 793526 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:25PM (#12030574) Homepage
    "Researchers to investigate why they were the last to figure this out."
  • duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Graham Cluley [says] "If no-one responded to junk e-mail and didn't buy products sold in this way, then spam would be as extinct as the dinosaurs."

    Well, duh. That could be said for any type of advertising.
  • by aussie_a ( 778472 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:26PM (#12030596) Journal
    The article says 1 in 10 people buy stuff from spam.

    This is an average of course. Slashdot obviously isn't the average, but it's still likely SOME of you have bought something from spam (even if it's 1 in 100 slashdotters).

    So fess up. Whose being buying stuff from spam?
    • Yes, average. I should have clarified! :)

      Regardless, I haven't bought anything from spam. Even if something interestd me, I would be worried about getting ripped off. That said, nothing so far has. Yes, not even "enlargement" offers. ;)

    • To quote post #12030544 []

      I replied to the spam

      and my mortgage has never been longer or harder.
    • I took up an telemarketer's offer.

      I was pissed that they called, when I was on the do not call list.

      They claimed a prior business relationship for a hotel I stayed at in NM a few years back.

      I now think that was a bogus connection, as this time share thing must use my specific credit history to rope people and get close to them. While putting up with four hours of hard sell, they made strange references to Virginia Tech (where my wife recently made purchases at a conference). We thought nothing of it un
  • by rjsquire ( 14061 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:27PM (#12030598)
    I've recently taken a job at a small software company and occcasionally I have to take a support call or two. We deal with school districts and our software is used primarily by special education administrators.
    These are people with multiple master's degrees and I'm amazed every day by their lack of techno-savvy. If very bright highly educated people don't recognize pop-up windows as advertisements then how can we expect the "average" person to recognize the bigger issue surrounding spam?
    I think the fact is that most people really don't care that much. They just accept spam the same way they accept junk snail-mail.
    • by ThogScully ( 589935 ) <> on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:49PM (#12030842) Homepage
      I think the fact is that most people really don't care that much. They just accept spam the same way they accept junk snail-mail.

      So they throw it out? That doesn't sound like what you're saying, but that's what people do with junk mail. This article is about people paying attention to it instead just because it's online.
      • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @11:30PM (#12032095)
        They just accept spam the same way they accept junk snail-mail.

        So they throw it out?

        No, people will read and react to junk snailmail. I used to work for a Time-Share company who would send out 10.000 mails (of the snail kind) and would get a response of about 200 resulting in about 10 sales of the value between 8000 and 35000USD per sales. (No, that is not all profit)

        The moment sales dropped, we could not get the salesnumber anymore, so we stopped and closed the company. Lessen to the public. As soon as you stop buying, the spamming will stop.

        Support your local store, stop buying anything over the Internet.
      • So they throw it out? That doesn't sound like what you're saying, but that's what people do with junk mail.

        Depends what the junk mail is. I've signed up for at least one credit card after getting junk mail advertising it. I'd probably do the same with junk e-mail, except for the fact that junk e-mail is pretty much universally a scam by some company I've never heard of.

        If I'm offered a good deal, I'm not going to pass it up just because it was offered through junk mail. Of course, Discover Card (that

  • by Hamstij ( 831222 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:27PM (#12030605)
    I'd love to see the breakdown of those "1 in 3" and "1 in 10" type stats on a per country basis.

    The vast majority of spam that I get is targeted at Americans, and hence completely irrelevent to me.

    I wonder if the number of people that "have clicked on" and "have bought from" is much higher in the US than in other countries.

    • I get spam written in chinese
    • I wonder if the number of people that "have clicked on" and "have bought from" is much higher in the US than in other countries.

      That would be nice wouldn't it? Then it would fit into your obviously biased current view of Americans seamlessly.

      • by Taladar ( 717494 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:28PM (#12031182)
        Actually no. But e.g. in Germany where I live we don't have many dumb (as in: would reply to spam) people that speak english good enough to understand the english spam messages and have a credit card (most people here don't have one). So the group of potential customers for english spam is far lower than in the US.
    • The vast majority of spam that I get is targeted at Americans, and hence completely irrelevent to me. For a while 80% of the spam that I got (admittedly not a lot relative to other people) was Korean and Chinese, I have no idea how or why they got my email address.
    • That's interesting. About 75% (that's a very rough estimate, but it should be between 70 and 80 or so) of the spam I get is Korean; most of the rest is in English, but there is also quite a bit that's Chinese or Russian.

      Talking to friends about this has confirmed that it's similar for them, and some have pointed out the pervasiveness of broadband connections in South Korea as an explanation.

      So it's quite interesting that most of your spam is targeted at (US-?)Americans. How much do you get per day, on ave
      • People only see what they want to see. I too get the 'korean' 'chinese' and 'russian' spam but that's not even 1% of the total spam I get. The rest is English. And the few that I've looked at seem like they're targetted at Americans.
  • This is what causes me to lament the state of humanity. There are some tried and true methods of persuation and propaganda, none of these methods are secret. Yet they work, a disturbing percentage of the time. Why can't we learn from ourselves?
    • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:50PM (#12030853) Homepage
      There are some tried and true methods of persuation and propaganda, none of these methods are secret.

      They are secret to the people who haven't heard of them. Unfortunately, they don't teach much critical thinking in school. (I think it would be great to require a semester of media literacy in high school, where students learn all the classic propaganda techniques and how to spot them...)

  • bought? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:27PM (#12030611) Homepage
    Not to split fucking hairs, but "bought" sort of implies that they actually got something. Defrauded, maybe, not goddamn bought.
    . /Hates the BSA, but would like them to start smacking the "buy software now" spams.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:29PM (#12030630)
    Dinosaurs are extinct? Damn, and I just bought two velociraptors from a guy from Nigeria.
  • by The Amazing Fish Boy ( 863897 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:30PM (#12030645) Homepage Journal
    I have to wonder how the survey question was phrased.

    If it gave an accurate and easily understandable description of SPAM (e.g. "email from someone you had not contacted in any way or did not know how they got your email address"), it would be fine.

    But I have a feeling (having taken a few surveys in my day) that it was something more along the lines of "How many times in the past year did you buy a product after receiving an email about the product?"

    The problem there is that it covers legitimate email offers, like from Amazon, ThinkGeek, or whatever. People might even have thought it counted when they were emailed a confirmation for their purchase.

    I wish these articles would include a link to the survey.
  • by papaia ( 652949 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:30PM (#12030649)
    I did not need to click on anything to have the spammers generate traffic - all I had to do was to setup a honeypot, then advertise an email address "having used" the honeypot through Newsgroups (actually my research related to much more than that, but this is a /. simplification), then identify test messages, to let them through and let spammers believe that my honeypot is in fact an open proxy - and in 11 hrs I got a few GB of spam running to my "open proxy", allowing me to study it. I have never let it out of my box, but it definitely gave the spammers adrenaline enough to keep them around for longer ... and they are still pounding my box, one year after the end of the project, and from allowing their test messages go through, and half a year since the domain whom the box belonged to, expired. Is anybody still wondering about spammers longevity?!?
    • then identify test messages, to let them through and let spammers believe that my honeypot is in fact an open proxy

      How'd you manage this one? I'd be too afraid of letting the messages through to the wrong person.

      I have never let it out of my box, but it definitely gave the spammers adrenaline enough to keep them around for longer ...

      If a bunch of us ran something like this, wouldn't it greatly increase the costs to the spammers? In fact, if you hacked around with the raw IP packets, sending ACKs pr

  • Unless "click on" means got tricked into clicking on and "buy" means accidentally got further along in the (ahem) "ordering process." I don't believe it for a second.
  • Sometimes I think the dolts who actually buy from spammers are as odious as the spammers themselves. The ten percent figure is astonishingly high. But then there's just as much room at the left-hand side of the bell-shaped curve as there is on the right hand side.
    • When you truly start to understand some of these people, you can't really hate them anymore, you just start to pity them. There are reasons people succomb to these scams: mental problems, extreme loneliness, complete ignorance, a life that's so devoid of hope that they will cling to obviously false promises.

  • by stor ( 146442 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:33PM (#12030675)
    I'm writing a virus.

    It will randomly generate mortgage/penis enlargement/teen sluts/housewives/OEM Software spam.

    It will have a "Click here to respond" link.

    If you click the link, it wipes your hard drive and somehow sets your computer on fire. I need to work out how to kill the CPU fan or something...

    These people who are responding to spam need to have their computers confiscated, for great justice.

    That is all.

    • Re:That's fucken it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by NetNifty ( 796376 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:45PM (#12030796) Homepage
      Well I've started spreading rumors about people buying stuff from spammers and getting tape worm eggs/cyanide pills/another disgusting or poisonous thing instead of medication...
      • Re:That's fucken it. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @11:55PM (#12032287) Homepage
        That's actually not a bad idea.. Never underestimate the power of rumors.

        I actually tested this once. I was talking to a friend of mine in the smoking area about how people pick up bits and pieces of other people's conversation, and then spread them on. We came up with a juicy, scandalous, and completely ficticious event and discussed it at an excited volume.. not enough that we drown out other people, but loud enough that anyone who wasn't talking could probably hear us. We didn't have to keep a straight face, because he story we came up with was something you'd laugh at anyway. We repeated it a few times, and the next day I went on vacation and forgot all about it.

        When I returned a month later, the first thing I heard from a co-workers was, "Guess what happened while you were gone!" Yeah, the same story we made up in the smoking area. Had a good laugh over that one.

        Granted, the rumor was probably isolated to, at most, the 1100 people I worked with, but that's because it was only relevant to those people. Your idea about spreading rumors that are relevant to the population at large might actually work.
      • My idea was a little more direct. Send out huge quantities of spam advertising Fr33 v1/\gr/\, and then send out free cyanide tablets to anyone who requested them. A quick and efficient solution to the problem.
    • by Cylix ( 55374 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:47PM (#12030823) Homepage Journal
      Oh that's easy.

      All you need is a little assembler and you'll be set.

      HCF - Halt and Catch Fire

      HCF []
      • Re:That's fucken it. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @04:19AM (#12033628)
        Unfortunately, its only available in the Motorola 6800 (not 68000), and not in the 8x86 family.

        Actually, several other microcontrollers had similar instructions - they activate the pull-ups and pull-downs in the IO ports at the same time, thus shorting the power rails through the IO port.

        This can be relied upon to release all the magic smoke that powers the processor.

      • Re:That's fucken it. (Score:3, Informative)

        by m50d ( 797211 )
        As a serious solution for more modern computers, look at the chernobyl virus. Basically you reflash the bios with random data. The flash rom is usually soldered so it costs more to replace than to buy a new motherboard. Nasty, very nasty.
  • 1 out of 10?! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:34PM (#12030688) Journal
    Ok, I have to know who these guys were surveying, because I'm inclined to think it was the population of a mental institution.

    I really have to disagree with TFA on this one. I don't think it's "bad email behavior" keeping spam alive (viruses are a different matter, but lumped in together).

    It's the stupid and unethical businesses who will pay a spammer $100 for a 200,000 user spam blast. The spammer doesn't give a rat's posterior whether or not the victim buys or clicks. All he cares about is not getting bounced. Then he gets paid.
    • You can't JUST blame the businesses, because they wouldn't spend a cent if they got nothing back. This is why spammers are making hundreds of thousands a month, because people DO buy this stuff. It's a cycle, not just limited to one party.

      • Re:1 out of 10?! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:57PM (#12030904) Journal
        Given a commonly cited response rate of about .00001%[0] (as opposed to 10% in the article) used by People [] with more [] credibility [] ,in my opinion, than some faceless marketing firm, you're wrong. I'm still looking for something to
        cite at the moment, as I don't expect someone who's never dealt with them to take Steve's(Spamhaus), Rich's(Spamblocked), or Bill's(theclub...) word for it.

        The entire game of advertising has become one of infintesimal returns, in no small part because advertisers,like spammers, seem to think that forcing someone to view thier spew, will them or nil them, will make them more positively disposed towards the product/service/company being advertised.

        [0] +/- an order of magnitude. I'm bad at remembering the exact number of zeros.
        • Those two figures aren't in conflict with each other. You can have a very small response rate per message, but spammers send billions and billions of messages to millions of people, and it's quite possible that 10% of the people have bought at least one thing at least once, even if they ignored thousands of other spams the received.
      • Re:1 out of 10?! (Score:3, Interesting)

        That raises an interesting question for me... Are businesses able to be held accountable for consorting with spammers that don't comply with anti-spam legislation? Spammers may all be halfway around the world where their actions are legal, but a lot of businesses have headquarters in places where spam is technically illegal. If the businesses were to be held liable for spammers actions when they signed on with them, then maybe the businesses wouldn't want to take the risk...

        I know there are holes in this i
  • by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:34PM (#12030689) Homepage
    "If no-one responded to junk e-mail and didn't buy products sold in this way, then spam would be as extinct as the dinosaurs."

    This is a very simplistic view. It assumes that people measure their results carefully, and that it's the same people who keep selling. There's plenty of marketing channels out there that have a poor return on investment, but they keep alive for other reasons. Such reasons include: people don't measure the success properly, there's a new sucker born every minute, or other less financial reasons.

    For instance, I had a friend who used to sell sponsorship to big golf tournaments. Companies would pay huge somes of money, and there was plenty of data around that there was a lousy ROI. They kept doing it because they wanted the perks - the premium positions & champagne, etc. He said in his few years, only saw one company actually utilise their investment well by tying it in with other promotions.

    In the case of spam, it may possibly be true that it is profitable - it does appear to be the same people advertising all the time - but don't assume staying in business = good medium.
  • Yes, I tried to talk him out of it at the time. No, he didn't listen. Yes, he's gotten a clue now.

    He won't admit that he bought anything; we're at the "Do not ask"/"Do not tell" level now. Nobody wants to admit they were an idiot. Kind of takes the edge off of being the wise old parent role.

  • by bitkid ( 21572 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:39PM (#12030747) Journal
    to educate users. If somebody signs up for a free-mail account (could work for ISPs in general as well), they are automatically send a couple of fake spams. If any link in the spam-emails is clicked, the account of the user will be closed (with an educational warning message). That will teach them...

    Credit: Some MS guy I talked to. Unfortunately Hotmail-management was kinda opposed to that idea...
  • I used to say that spammers should be put to death, meaning it as hyperbole. But then I considered how many person-seconds are wasted by a single spam campaign, and reconsidered. One spam campaign can waste several human lifetimes. So the death penalty actually seems justifiable, at least as much as it is for other capital crimes.
    • by dmaxwell ( 43234 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:14PM (#12031044)
      I've posted it before and you've given me the opportunity to post it again.

      I'm usually not in favor of the death penalty. However, not only am I in favor of the electric chair for spammers; I'd replace the switch with a dial. After rigourous (and fun I might add) trials on the many spammers it would be marked like this:

      1. Mildly painful
      2. hurts
      3. really stings
      4. excruciating
      5. probable fatality
      6. likely fatality
      11. human boooowwwwbeeeecue

      There's hours of fun to be had as mail admins take turns lovingly sweeping the dial from 1 to 4. The mail admins will of course charge admission to mail recipients.

      The child porn purveyors can get the special wire that goes in the pants.
  • haha,
    you actually believe that the dinosaurs are extinct?

    oh man, no wonder people are such suckers for spam.
  • Still no excuse (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Skalizar ( 676291 )
    Reguardless of how effective spam ads may be, that doesn't excuse them from modifying the spam so that the people running filters still have to see it. If you're filtering spam, you not only don't want to buy anything from them, you don't want to even see it. I've been training spambayes for months now, and some stuff still gets through as 0% spam. Those are the people who need to be shut down, its easy enough to ignore the rest.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:45PM (#12030798) Homepage Journal
    So, if I read this correctly, 1 in 3 people have clicked on a spam link, in the entire history of spam. Well, I'd have to say if the question were approriately rigged, I'd have to admit that back in 98 when I was wanting some fonts for my Geocities work I did follow the link from some spam advertising "scifi fonts". Turns out they'd stolen them from a bunch of stuff, including the recently released Magic: the Gathering game. I reported it to Wizards of the Coast.

    So, given the thousands (tens of thousands?) of spam I've recieved, I've clicked on the link from one. Suddenly 1 in 10,000 doesn't look as good as 1 in 3.

    Of course, the real way that spam is funded is through scams (which only need a minute click-through rate) and by convincing one company after another that the click-through rate isn't minute. The recipients aren't the only ones being scammed.

  • by teuben ( 226278 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:46PM (#12030805) Homepage Journal
    I've always wondered why we , as a community,
    don't beat them at their own game. There is
    more of us then them, so if only 10% of us
    would carpet bomb them with fake requests,
    calling their 800 numbers, whatever they
    want back, wouldn't that piss them off.
    In fact, you start with one company
    (my current favorite is Gevalia Coffee,
    who can't stop mailing me despite repeated
    phone calls and email requests, they hired
    a 3rd party to "spam"), and work you way down
    slowly and methodically. THat will teach normal
    companies to stop doing it.
    There probably are a few hard cases to crack,
    but it seems there aren't all that many companies
    around who do it.
  • Just like we have a right to visit web pages unsuitable for young children, which also wouldn't exist if nobody visited them. So those of us who can't stand spam would also have to use software like cybernanny to filter the Internet, rather than banning advertisements that apparently find many willing targets.

  • It's very true (Score:5, Informative)

    by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <> on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @08:49PM (#12030837)
    Now before you all start on the "Yeah, I have a 11" penis and 36DDD breasts!" take a look at some of the spam you get. Seriously, look at a lot of it. is a good example. Spams for discount cruises from travel companies. Spam for free movie tickets (yes, I worked for the company that did that!) and spam for other free/discount products. It's not all porn & pills. in fact, the spammers I worked for adamantly refused to send out mails for porn or pills, but "$50 Gift Cards!" and "Try our coffee samples!" were ok.

    This is a *huge industry* - some of these companies were sending us checks for $60,000 per month to blast out emails.

    CAN-SPAM definitely has NOT helped. I believe that it has made the problem much worse, and it's just going to get worse until that POS law is repealed.
  • If no-one responded to junk e-mail and didn't buy products sold in this way, then spam would be as extinct as the dinosaurs.

    Alternatively, if we just buy everything they can offer, they will have nothing to sell no more, the spam will go extinct too.
  • How the Spam Industry is Sustained

    GOD, ISN'T OBVIOUS BY NOW??!?!?! Was I somehow teleported back to 1990 when this was actually news or am I reading slashdot?!? HELP MEEEE!!!
  • by MasTRE ( 588396 )
    >"If no-one responded to junk e-mail and didn't buy products sold in this way, then spam would be as extinct as the dinosaurs."

    Wow! These brits are geniuses!
  • The article called it "bad email behavior". Can't we just call it like it is? It's "stupid people".

    Only an idiot would think that v1agRA or home mortgages should be bought through email.
  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:02PM (#12030943) Homepage Journal
    Said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again:

    Spam is an economic problem and requires an economic solution.

    This story focuses on one side of it, but the amount of profit is *NOT* the problem as long as the spammers think they can divide by zero as far as the costs are concerned. Email is not and never has been free, but by designing SMTP to pretend email is free, spam is the inevitable result. If the spammer thinks another 10 million spams cost nothing, but will possibly find one more sucker to send in $39.95, then the RoI looks infinite. BROKEN economic model!

    The only option that will solve the spam problem is a sound economic approach that puts a non-zero cost on each email message. I think that could be done by requiring prepaid postage. I don't know about you, but I would certainly opt in for a system that was absolutely guaranteed not to get any mass-of-stinkage spam. (This could be done transparently and compatibly with the existing SMTP email system.)

    Once you have a real economic model, then you can add all the bells and whistles, and actually I have nothing against legitimate advertising from legitimate companies--as long as I control the flow and especially if I can target what I receive. In particular, I'd like a system that would let advertisers bid for my time. Something like "I'll accept a small amount of advertising email, and I'm interested in these products. What's it worth to you to reach me?" By small in this context, I'd be measuring it in terms of time, say 15 minutes per day where each worthwhile ad will probably take 1 minute to read.

    The email service provider would have some of my personal information to help "market" my valuable time. However, it would be strongly in their interest to carefully safeguard my anonymity, since leaking my personal information would destroy their own value. Also, since they would be getting a percentage of the take, it would of course be in their interest to maximize the advertising-related revenue I'd receive for those few ads.

    However, none of this is possible without a REAL economic model underlying email.

    • Your post advocates a

      (x) technical ( ) legislative (x) market-based ( ) vigilante

      approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

      ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
      (x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
      (x) No one will be able to
    • However, none of this is possible without a REAL economic model underlying email.

      Posted by the phone.. "Never buy anything from anyone that calls you. It may be a fraud."

      Posted by the computer.. "Never buy from anyone that mails you. It's probably a fraud."

      If you want something, search it out. Find the reputable dealers. The real suppliers are in the yellow pages or can be found with a Google search. Don't buy anything from an unknown supplier without finding out about the BBB complaints and web suc
  • by barfy ( 256323 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2005 @09:08PM (#12030982)
    But you should see the SIZE of my penis!!!!
  • Because with mortgage spam, the consumer is not actually buying anything. They are clicking on the link and submitting their information. In the course of litigating a California mortgage spam case, I have discovered how many layers of "lead companies" there are between the actual spammer and the end user, who is not the consumer that clicked on the link, but is rather the mortgage broker who ultimately makes the call to the consumer who clicked on the link.

    In the course of my pre-suit investigation, I did several canary traps []. Just one response to one piece of spam resulted in calls from over 40 mortgage brokers. These brokers had paid between $30 and $50 dollars for that lead. They had purchased it from a "lead generator" company who had paid between $20 and $30 dollars, and these companies had in turn bought it from another lead generator company! And I haven't even reached the actual spammer yet.

    So, one response to one piece of spam funded an entire chain of companies selling leads, generating well over $1000 in income for various persons. The consumer had parted with no cash...

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas