Sunday, June 19, 2005

Spam-a-lot: More Phishing Expeditions

It's amazing what you get in your spam slot these days. I've got a number of email accounts: Google Mail, Yahoo! Mail, and my account for RoadRunner. And they all get their share of amusing spam messages. It seems, however, that somebody somewhere is targeting specific classes of messages to specific accounts. I do wish I knew what the marketing reasons were behind the types of messages I get in each account.

The gmail account is the most entertaining. For some reason I've been getting lots of admonitions and dire warnings about my non-existant eBay account:
  • Pay Your eBay Fees (four of those)
  • eBay Fraud Mediation Request (two of those)
  • Open now and verify your email at eBay (five of those)
  • Security problems (two of those)
  • Billing issues
  • etc.
And then there's similar dire messages coming in for LaSalle Bank, SouthTrust, and PayPal. And, of course, I have no accounts with any of those institutions either.

The second most amusing is my RoadRunner account. There I get all sorts of offers for penis and breast enhancement pills and treatments, low-cost medications, and stock investment opportunities. I don't get any of these messages on any of the other two accounts. I run Thunderbird as my mail client, and I've got it trained to filter out this crud. To give credit to RoadRunner it does seem to cut down on the number of spam messages I get. But some still get through, and that's then T-bird automatically sorts them out.

Finally, there's my Yahoo account. There I get all sorts of super-low-discount software offers, Nigerian 419 get-rich-quick schemes, and porn site offers. And I get the highest number of spam messages there, usually more than the other two combined. Yahoo recently raised the amount of on-line storage to 1GB, and they've added some page-local Javascript to make the on-line email more "user friendly". For example, when I hit the Empty link to empty the bulk email, I get a Javascript popup window asking "Are you sure?" Of course I'm sure.

I've noticed an overall shift in my spam messages across all my accounts. It used to be, especially on Yahoo, that a lot of messages came in with virii attachments. Not any more. Since April I have not gotten a single attachment. Instead the phishing scams have steadily increased.

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