Reckling: You’ve got spam | AspenTimes.com

Reckling: You’ve got spam

Margaret Reckling
Reckonings

I get it, and I bet you get it, too! So aptly named after the gruesome meat byproduct, Spam is an unsolicited arrival in your email box and another undesirable feature of today’s globalized Internet world. And, much like its mysteriously meaty namesake, electronic spam also can be served to you in numerous forms and varieties.

Millions of dollars in Nigerian bank accounts are just waiting for you, Dear Sir/Madam, if only you would kindly share your full name, physical mailing address, Social Security number and telephone number, the funds will be wired immediately!

No problem, this is just the break we’ve all been waiting for. The monetary amounts range anywhere from 1.5 million to 13.7 million U.S. dollars. The only catch is that “you must donate 50 percent of the monies to orphanages homes in your country for my heart to rest with God. You see, I have been suffering from a cancerous disease and only have a few weeks to live. Great wealth has come to me from my life’s work in gold exploration in Africa Burkina Faso. Please respond to me before the death crosses my way.” Hmmm, odd wording, but I feel sorry for this dying person. I had better do something to help them fulfill their dream of assisting orphans — not!

If you’re searching for a good deal on prescription drugs, why not purchase medications from anonymous people on the Web?No matter what these look-alike meds contain, or what quality control they’ve undergone (if any), just order ’em up! Canadian meds can supply you with any painkiller, erectile-dysfunction pill or hormone you want. Hopefully these powerful drugs that evade the hassle of getting a doctor’s appointment and prescription are not composed of anything more harmful than mere sugar placebos.

The spam scams come from many exotic locales from around the globe: Kuala Lumpur, Iraq, Cayman Islands, Nigeria, Bulgaria and India are some of the more popular origins of electronic spam. Rather enticing if it weren’t so creepy and invasive.

We’ve all received the email from a real friend’s hacked account claiming to have been robbed in Europe and please wire funds ASAP to the following bank. It’s just that the language is a bit off, and your friend does not go by the proper name used on his or her email account. It’s pretty easy to smell a rat when your buddy, Jimbo, signs the email, “Mr. Jameson R. Smith.” And heck, why doesn’t he just call me?

Sometimes the friend who is the hacked victim of the scam is someone you haven’t even seen in more than 5 years, so why would he be asking you to wire him funds in Europe?

I even received an official-sounding hoax from a man claiming to be an officer in the U.S. Army, a West Point graduate and presently serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in Baghdad. The email subject is “Please, can I trust you?” and the sender uses, “Can I trust you?” six times throughout the bogus message. He apparently has a couple of military trunks that have arrived in the U.K. that need safeguarding while he is on duty in Iraq. If you can be trusted, he’ll explain everything later, as soon as you supply him with all your personal information.

These examples of email spam are entertaining, and I’m grateful they appear in my old email account’s junk file. The truth of the matter is that spam has cost Internet users a great deal of time and money. The California Legislature found that spam cost U.S. organizations alone more than $13 billion in 2007. The worldwide damage is even more exorbitant. Heavy costs are incurred in lost productivity, additional equipment, software and manpower needed to combat the problem.

There is plenty of criminality involved in spam. It can be used to spread viruses, Trojan horses and other malicious software. Identity theft, advance-fee fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud are bad enough on their own but often are accompanied by other crimes such as financial theft, data and intellectual theft, child pornography and deceptive marketing.

Yeah, it’s a big, bad world out there, and crimes of the Internet, via spam, are enough to make you want to throw your computer and smartphones off the mountain and crawl into a cave. Even our “smart” household appliances have gotten into the game. More than 750,000 spam emails were sent from refrigerators and TVs in January in a two-week period discovered by Proofpoint, a U.S.-based security firm.

“You’ve got mail, and a lot of it is spam.” Recipients beware, especially when it comes to overly polite Nigerians, Cialis and Viagra “Powerpacks” (take them together, really?) and exotic, Russian brides. It all sounds like a big helping of mystery meat — something we should all avoid.

Margaret Reckling lives in Woody Creek and welcomes your comments at margreck880@gmail.com.


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