Dumb Spam Time: Deactivation of Your Email Address

Here’s a message I got just the other day. It’s pretty goofy.

From: Tom Lavigne
To:  [blank]
Date: Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:27:37 AM 
Subject: Deactivation of Your Email Address

THIS MESSAGE IS FROM OUR TECHNICAL SUPPORT TEAM This message is sent automatically by the computer. If you are receiving this message it means that your email address has been queued for deactivation; this was as a result of a continuous error script (code:505)receiving from this email address. Click here and fill out the required field to resolve this problem Note: Failure to reset your email by ignoring this message or inputting wrong information will result to instant deactivation of this email address

Normally I include the email address when I paste these, but apparently Tom is a real person whose email address has been used without his authorization. I don’t want to make it look like some YMCA in Massachusetts is running a phishing scheme.

Anyway, let’s poke holes in it!

  1. Execrable grammar and usage. It used to be that tech people weren’t always the best writers (see also: any software manual written between 1980 and 1995 or so), but “will result to instant deactivation?” No.
  2. “Click here” links to a TinyURL site. Yeah, no.
  3. “This message is sent automatically by the computer.” Yeah. THE COMPUTER. Really? Really? No technical support team would ever use that sentence, because it makes zero sense.
  4. “Reset your email” also makes no sense. How do you reset an email? (You can, however, declare email bankruptcy).
  5. It’s asking you to click a hidden link and provide personal information. It might as well said, “Hi. This is a phishing attack. Can we have your password?”

Son of Ridiculous Spam Friday

Four more great, goofy examples of spam this week. Exhibit A:

From: Nanette Bailey
Date: Saturday, March 13, 2010 8:15:22 PM
To: [email address]
Subject: Get a diploma for a better job.

BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT! Is your lack of a degree holding you back from career advancement?
Are you having difficulty finding employment in your field of interest because you don’t have the
paper to back it up – even though you are qualified?
If you are looking for a fast and effective solution, we can help!
Call us right now for your customized diploma: Inside U.SA.: 1-718-989-5740 Outside U.S.A.: +1-718-989-5740.
Just leave your NAME & TEL. PHONE # (with country-code) on the voicemail and one of our staff members will get back to you promptly!

Yeah, that’s exactly how you get ahead in life—a fake diploma from a fake school. Because employers never check into that sort of thing. Show ’em a piece of paper, and that’s good enough.

Exhibit B:

From: irina@ctfree.net
Date: Saturday, March 13, 2010 12:12 PM
To: [email address]
Subject: Hello

Hello, I Russian girl – a dream to live abroad, my name is Ira, can we get started? I’m on this dating site – Come to me.  http://gelopefuv.kogaryu.com/babagy.html

The dry-and-jolly trees are making noise

This is not a tempting offer, Ira. I wouldn’t visit that website on a dare. What is that bit of nonsense at the end? Z’at haiku or something?

Exhibit C:

From: atlanticmotors@verizon.net
Date: Monday, March 08, 2010 8:59 AM
To: [email address]
Subject: Russian Anna

I the most beautiful. I Russian girl. Estimate my photo. You want dialogue?

hy  g zf

No, I most certainly do not want dialogue. What blows my mind here is the “from” address. Atlantic Motors?

Exhibit D:

From: Seymour Epps <quotes-slc@allianceu.com>
Date: Friday, March 05, 2010 11:08 PM
To: [email address]
Subject: Changing careers but lack the right Degree?


Add Bache1or’s, Master’s or Doctorate Degrees to your resume in just 4-6 weeks and open avenues to promotion and better jobs!

At your Own Pace!
At your Own Schedule!
At your Own Convenience!

No Examination!
No Study!
No Class!

Regardless of your location, you can receive a degree in your desired field. All you need is sufficient knowledge, military, or professional experience and you are on your way to an instant degree in your relevant field.

Earn a recognized University Degree based on professional experience within a few weeks!
Get your desired degree on the basis of your Prior Knowledge and professional Experience.

Give us a call NOW!

Please leave us your:
1) Your Name
2) Your Country
3) Phone No. with country code if outside USA

We will get back to you ASAP

Another diploma mill. You know what legitimate offers from legitimate companies don’t do? Replace letters in certain words with numbers (“Bache1or’s”) to slip past spam filters

What was really interesting about this one was that they had inserted super-small (1.5 font size) garbage text into the middle of a lot of words. The text looked normal when you opened the message in a mail reader, but if you pasted it into Notepad, all this in-between junk showed up.

So, a line that looked like it said, “Regardless of your location, you can receive a degree in your desired field” was actually, “Regar fwtz dless of your loca yzyozt tion, you can rec b eive a degree in your de rcm sired field.” This is another thing legitimate companies don’t do.

Then again, legitimate companies also don’t offer fake diplomas.

That’s all for this week’s edition of “Ridiculous Spam Friday.” Until next time, keep hitting that “delete” key!

Never click “unsubscribe” in unsolicited spam.

There are several different species of spam email out there.

Some of it is just plain gibberish, often just a few random words and a link. This kind is pretty easy to spot.

There’s also the kind you get because you actually signed up for it. In this case, it’s not actually spam, since you opted in. Most of the time, this form of commercial email message (usually from larger, well-established companies) is relatively safe. There’s usually a link at the bottom you can follow if you want to stop receiving these messages.

Then there’s the stuff that tries to look like it’s from a legitimate business. Usually this sort of message has quite a bit of text, and many times it’s written with passable English grammar and spelling. It can be selling a reasonable-sounding product, but the difference is that it’s from a company you’ve never done business with, and from whom you did not sign up to receive email. There will usually be an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the message as well.

However, in this case, you do not want to click that link. When you do, it takes you to a website that asks you to enter your email address to take yourself off the list. What you’re actually doing is confirming that the email address they have on file is a good one. Basically, your address can then be sold to any number of spammers. It will only cause more spam (and scams) to appear in your inbox.

The only way to deal with this kind of spam is to ignore it. It’s a pain, but it’s a bigger pain if it multiplies (I learned that one the hard way several years ago). Either adjust the settings on your spam filter, or just manually delete the messages every time.

Virus Alert: “Your internet access is going to get suspended.” (ICS Monitoring Team)

This email has been around for at least a couple years. Full text:

From: ICS Monitoring Team
Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 2:48 AM
To: [email address]
Subject: Your internet access is going to get suspended

Attachment: report.zip

Your internet access is going to get suspended

The Internet Service Provider Consorcium was made to protect the rights of software authors, artists.
We conduct regular wiretapping on our networks, to monitor criminal acts.

We are aware of your illegal activities on the internet wich were originating from

You can check the report of your activities in the past 6 month that we have attached. We strongly advise you to stop your activities regarding the illegal downloading of copyrighted material of your internet access will be suspended.

ICS Monitoring Team

If you get this message, or anything similar, delete it immediately, and whatever you do, don’t open that attachment. It’s a virus.

I don’t know exactly what sort of malware is attached, but if I had to guess, I would assume it contained some form software that could be used to remotely gain control of your computer. These “zombie computers” can then be used as part of a “botnet” to commit other crimes. In fact, a search for “ICS Monitoring Team” returned at least one link that appeared to be software that would allow you to remotely control other computers on a network.

They were really going for the jugular with this one, weren’t they? The fact is, a lot of people download copyrighted material, so they’ve got a lot of potential victims. Your first reaction upon reading something like this would probably be a small jolt of panic, whether you’ve been downloading stuff or not. The social engineering angle here is as brilliant as the grammar and spelling are execrable. “Consorcium?” Really?

Whatever you’ve been getting up to online, this message isn’t related to it. It’s just another attempt to infect computers with some kind of bad juju. I’m not saying you should keep ripping off copyright holders. Sometimes those BitTorrents are infected with stuff, too. And remember that one kid the entire music industry practically wanted to execute nine or ten years ago? People run into trouble that way.

However, if you do get caught, most likely your Internet service provider will just shut you down with very little explanation beyond “terms of service violations.” Some third party isn’t going to be given that power, at least not in the run-of-the-mill instances.