My email gets filtered by my university, where my account lives, and spam winds up in a special folder for my later delectation. Actually, I check the spam folder at least every other day because from time to time emails that I want wind up in there. Commonest of these are the emails from the latest NewWeb2.0.com at which I’ve registered because I had to if I wanted to try out their new SreenIlatorPow. As you know, you fill out their form and their machine kicks out the registration details you need, sending them to the email address you submitted.
Spam mongers have cottoned on to this, of course, and now my junk folder is full of fake but plausible emails with “Registration Details” in the subject line. Thing is, you’d think I’d remember all the places I registered, wouldn’t you? But they blur. And the lag between the time I asked for “registration details” and the time my university’s ferocious spam filter lets me actually have them can be a couple of days, by which time I’ve likely forgotten where I live, let alone the names of startups I’ve dated.
So I cracked open one of these missives, just to see:
I like cooking. I have joined the odd cooking site. If I weren’t the deeply suspicious person I in fact am, I might have fallen for this. So in the spirit of adventure I went one level further in. I clicked the link — which produced this:
Here I drew the line. Mousing over the hyperlink showed me that the link was to an .exe file, something I’m not prepared to risk, even in the guise of your intrepid reporter, and even though I have a Mac (which generally scratches its head at .exe files and asks if I want to open them with some graphics program or other).
The domain for the return email address, by the way, takes you to a perfectly harmless site — plantpioneer.com.
Out of curiosity I did, however, scoop the domain registration and plugged it into a Whois site. The email had come from the spammer’s account in Morocco. (Click here to see the screenshot.) I’ve received perhaps a dozen nearly identical emails over the last two days or so: if it’s not cooking, it’s games or “mobile fun,” coming from the Netherlands and the U.S.
I’m no longer indignant about spam. But when, from time to time I step back and look at this stuff, I am still astonished at the degree of our comfort with fraud like this.