An Explanation


Most people I know hate Spam. But I happen to love it, particularly those computer-generated chunks of Dadaist poetry which often arrive from senders with names like Constipated V. Blintze, Wrangled O. Encyclicals, Curtailment D. Mullets or Babushka H. Lacerations. I once got an email with the subject line "power drill gonads defined by 0739." The text was:

When CEO inside goes to sleep, maestro around rattlesnake laughs out loud.Ty, the friend of Ty and goes to sleep with hockey player of.about labyrinth goes to sleep, and traffic light related to organize steam engine beyond.turkey of, inside vacuum cleaner, and cheese wheel defined by fundraiser are what made America great!cigar around, inside tape recorder, and crank case from bonbon are what made America great!

John Ashbery couldn't have said it better!

Then there are the spammers pitching cures for erectile dysfunction with random blocks of text lifted from Dostoyevsky or Bulgakov. Who knew that Canadian pharmacies were such hotbeds of literary erudition?

But the stuff I really love isn't written by spambots drunk on Viagra and Russian novels. The really tasty spam is cooked up by Nigerian con men.

I read a lot of these emails, since I work in customer service for a small consumer electronics e-tailer. The scam spams fall into two categories: 

1) Bulk emails sent to a list of potential marks

2) Individual emails seeking to buy electronics with a stolen credit card

The scammers have reportedly learned to expect a 70% success rate from anyone who responds to their first message. So they are often reluctant to give up their efforts even if their mark's emails become erratic or nonsensical.

This blog contains all of my correspondence with the scammers– not all of them Nigerian, for the record. Email addresses have been removed or changed to protect the guilty. Enjoy!

Ethical concerns? Colonial guilt? Check this out.

Published in: on April 10, 2006 at 7:53 am  Comments (4)