What is this spam?
March 19, 2009 7:55 AM   Subscribe

What's the scam in my spam?

Lately, we've been getting a lot of spam that's in the vein of "How much is a diamond worth?" and "How much does it cost to drive to Canada?" and "How much does it cost to eat in Florida?"

The contents of the spam are always just a few sentences asking a question that makes sense but is quasi-unanswerable without a ton more information, and usually not appropriate to the addresses it's being sent to, an apology of some kind for needing to ask and a single first name signed.

They're grammatical, and not obviously selling anything, and they contain no links, so what's the point of them? Are they just email harvesters trying to confirm that our addresses actually exist?
posted by jacquilynne to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "Are they just email harvesters trying to confirm that our addresses actually exist?"

Your spammer is tidying their spamlist to sort it into three categories:
1. addresses for which delivery cannot be completed
2. addresses for which delivery seems to complete
3. addresses for which the owner responds to spam

Typically your spammers have multiple sources of addresses of varying reliability. Your big spam operators are going to try to hone the list on occasion, and this is how they're doing it this time around. Last round was blank messages and "hi" messages and such.

I have no idea why this spammer, of all possible spammers, seems to be literate where the rest are not.
posted by majick at 8:20 AM on March 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

Do you have some kind of picture screening on your email reader, where you have to right-click to download any pictures? It's possible that the actual content of the spam is just a huge jpg file or some other graphic image, and your email reader is stripping that out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:07 AM on March 19, 2009

Yeah, could be using embedded images to see what messages get past spam filters. Those are a very reliable way of tracking email opens - as reliable as it gets. Check to see if it's an HTML email and if there's an img tag in there somewhere.
posted by GuyZero at 11:52 AM on March 19, 2009

Response by poster: No images, embedded or attached, so I think it's just what majick suggests.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:41 PM on March 19, 2009

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