The Stupid 365 Project, Day 76: Spam Detection Made Easy (2)

December 17th, 2010

Okay, this is serious.

I know that most of the illustrations I’ve chosen thus far have been slapdash and merely decorative, if even that.  I know that because no one, not once, not ever,  has said something like, “Wow! Love what you’re doing with the pictures.”  Or, “Hey, great shot.”  Just like no one has ever said, “You’re really putting some creativity into these headlines.”  I mean, Taking You Through DeMille? Aria da Poppo?  Czechs and Balances? What’s not to love?

But I’m getting off topic.

The clipping above may be difficult to read, it may require unattractive squinting from those among us whose arms have grown too short hold small type far enough away to see what it says, but it’s worth the effort.  There’s a lesson here.

Ed Nisley, as if he didn’t already have enough against him with that name, received this letter in August of 2009.  All he had to do, to win his $250,000, was give the nice man from “Reader’s Digest” (those of you who have missed how clever the headlines are might want to note the telltale quotes) his bank account numbers and Social Security ID number.

And Ed Nisley, bless his heart, did.  He had no recollection of buying Ticket 26840-57, but Ed had forgotten lots of stuff more important than that.  He gave the nice man from “Reader’s Digest” the info, and three weeks later Ed was living in a 1957 Chevy up on blocks in a bad neighborhood, eating Friskies.  And not the expensive Friskies in the tear-open sealed bag, either. The nasty canned stuff that has little bits of bone and catfish whiskers.

Six months later, in the cold heart of a Detroit winter, they found good old Ed Nisley all covered with ice, still clutching the shears he’d been using to make festive paper holiday flowers to sell for pennies in the street.  “Saddest thing I even seen,” said one hardened cop.  “Looked like a flower garden in there, except for the dead guy.”  Then he added, “And all the tin cans.”

Now, children, this happened to Ed Nisley back in the days of something people called The Post Office.  Can you say, “The Post Office,” Duane?  All right, then, who else wants to try?  Good, Tricia, you little suck-up.  Now, children, The Post Office used to exist to take pieces of paper — let’s see hands from everyone who remembers paper — from place to place, taking it from someone who wanted to get rid of it and giving it to someone who didn’t want to receive it.  That’s right, Angela.  Bad business plan.

If Ed Nisley were alive today, he would have won the fatal prize via e-mail.  I thought today we’d take a few minutes to review some of what we learned in an earlier post about how to spot malicious e-mail, which we call “Spam.”  It’s not really “Spam,” of course.  It doesn’t come in cans like Ed Nisley’s Friskies.  We call it “Spam” because . . . we call it “Spam’ be . . .

We call it “Spam.”  And in the interest of preventing you from having to move into Ed Nisley’s Chevy at some point in the future, we’re going to review some of the identifying characteristics of spam.  (All examples below were actually received by this site.)

Tip-off One:  It is suspiciously cheerful and personal although the person who wrote it is someone you’ve never heard of and, judging from the way he/she (se?) uses language, you would run from in the street. Example: You are liability a impressive post on your blog, chap. I bear been for all time a bookworm of your blog…

Tip-off Two:  It is written by someone who is thinking in another language, possibly not a terrestrial language. Example: 82 GEOMBTBT AS –І SCIBNCB. des interestes k subir, ou quelque be at someone’s beck a rdestructionre. The pester of ltMMВ»ВNВ»gt StiQ I be so bold as not perspicacity that the inatinccive salaryling of the heskill should be outrlength of existenced or in aiQ MR, FERQUSSON. Arab Rehaving Bats in one’s belfryhc) Je vais vivre de vos straitsis, on a disdulle trop rejected- methods. TBS the moved four-letter wordsional unyielding to covering the exrain catsses were opposed and assortes of mathematics, stalemateing, and cheerrorry, thrustnity, as vetcyclens of the libidinous, and their detrimentalit- he is figurind proexhausted enough and shlimaz!

I have many more examples, but this has gone on too long as it is.  All I can say in closing is Shlimaz! to all the Arab Rehaving Bats out there.

16 Responses to “The Stupid 365 Project, Day 76: Spam Detection Made Easy (2)”

  1. Larissa Says:

    Ok, this one made me giggle at my desk. Which makes me look even stranger at work than I already do…ahem. Shlimaz! (c:

    And who’s not familar with being proexhausted? I mean, c’mon, it’s Friday!

    Oh, I see that i’ve been chosen to win 250,000 too! Here, let me hand over all of my personal information…

    Can someone pass the Friskies?

    Someone, in the footsteps of Joyce, should write an entire novel in Spamglish and see if it gets kudoo points for being avant-gaarde.

  2. Bonnie Says:

    Those of you who have websites probably know “lorem ipsum,” pseudo-Greek nonsense used as a filler for proposed designs. Recently I came across a “gansta” version that I cannot help but like:

    Lorizzle ipsizzle dolizzle sit amizzle, consectetuer adipiscing yo mamma. Nullam sapien velizzle, its fo rizzle volutpizzle, suscipit for sure, brizzle vizzle, its fo rizzle. Pellentesque we gonna chung tortizzle. Sed eros. Stuff fizzle dolor dapibus turpizzle tempizzle shizznit. pellentesque nibh et turpizzle. Vestibulum izzle tortor. Gangsta mammasay mammasa mamma oo sa rhoncus fo shizzle. Izzle the bizzle habitasse bow wow wow dictumst. Dang dapibizzle. I’m in the shizzle we gonna chung urna, pretizzle eu, mattis mah nizzle, eleifend p
    hat, nunc. Stuff suscipizzle. Integer sempizzle velit sizzle mofo.

  3. Gary Says:

    Tip[-Off] Three: Unattractive squinting can be avoided by simply clicking on the clipping. It then grows to a size large enough to fill the largest computer screen in the world, and can easily be read from the other side of the street.

    But it can’t possibly be spam, because it has spelling and grammar and punctuation.

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Gary’s right. I got a spam supposedly from AT&T’s custormer service. Yup, that’s how it was spelled. I did forward it to AT&T’s fraud unit, but it is sad how many folks believe, and want to believe, a lot of nonsense. Meanwhile, I’m missing out on a five hundred thousand pound prize from the BBC, and who knows how many Nigerian dollars. It seems to get worse during the holidays. I must be getting older, I didn’t understand the gangsta talk; am I that un-cool?

  5. Suzanna Says:

    Even your Spam post made me laugh, so there.

  6. Gary Says:

    Yes, Lil, I’ve lost count of the millions of “GREAT BRITISH POUNDS” that I’ve won and failed to collect. Actually they’re less greedy these days – all they’re angling for is $400 to send you your million-dollar check by UPS. (And no, they can’t take the money out of your winnings, because the whole amount has been insured to prevent – wait for it! – fraud!)

    This is a fun site (if you have the time):

    http://arstechnica.com/web/news/2009/05/baiting-nigerian-scammers-for-fun-not-so-much-for-profit.ars

  7. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Riss, I think the idea of a novel in Spamglish is brilliant, but I wouldn’t dream of stealing it from you. I can’t wait to read the first draft. Shlimaz!

    Bonnie, isn’t “Ipsum lorem” used for regular type (to the extent that such a thing still exists) as well as web design text dummies? And there’s something fundamentally dissociative about Latin and rap, although your selection bounces along pretty good.

    Gee, Gary, that amazes me. I actually hadn’t even tried clicking on the image. And you win the Hidden Wish Award, since you’re the first person ever actually to mention any image used in a post. The prize is US$250,000. An e-mail requesting essential delivery info is on its way to you.

    Lil – maybe you’re too young to get it. Maybe the part you don’t get is the Latin. And even if you got both parts, it’s still essentially silliness, and God knows I asked for silliness with this post.

    Suzanna, making you (and Riss) laugh makes me very happy. Too bad it’s too late for Ed Nisley.

    And Gary, I’d be happy to shield you from the impact of any potential scam. Just send me the critical info and I’ll submit it, and you’ll be safe as milk.

  8. Laren Bright Says:

    Maybe they call it SPAM because it has no nutritional value whatsoever.

    I have admired numerous of your titles, however have expected nothing less from you so haven’t made a big deal out of it.

    Besides, when you do titles like those, it makes writing these little responses anticlimactic.

  9. Gary Says:

    Seriously, some of the guys on that website have received death threats from the frustrated scammers.

    I can’t think of a greater compliment.

  10. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Gary-are they as dumb as they think we are?
    How safe is milk? Okay, okay.

  11. Gary Says:

    Lil, in answer to your question:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/06/how-to-trick-an-online-scammer-into-carving-a-computer-out-of-wood/5903/

    And there’s LOTS more where that came from!

  12. fairyhedgehog Says:

    It’s called spam because of Monty Python’s spam sketch. The reasoning is here.

    But I guess you knew that already!

  13. Sylvia Says:

    DEAR friend.

    I AM PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA ONLY SURVIVOR OF THE ROYAL FAMILY OF ALDERAN
    (ALDRN).

    I AM MOVED TO WRITE YOU THIS LETTER, THIS WAS IN CONFIDENCE CONSIDERING MY PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCE AND SITUATION.

    I WAS FALSLEY IMPRISONED UPON THE IMPERIAL BATTLESTATION (“DEATH STAR”)
    WHEN MY PLANET WAS HIDEOUSLY DESTROYED AND ENDED BY THE BVERY BAD SITH LORD VADER.

    I ESCAPED ALONG WITH THE AID OF BRAVE REBELS AND WOOKIES, AND AM NOW I AM LYING LOW DUE TO THE SITUATION IN THE 4TH MOON OF YAVIN TILL WHEN THINGS GETS BETTER.

    I HAVE CONTROL HERE OF THE SUM OF $25, MILLIONNN IN IMPERIAL CREDITS
    DEPOSITED WITH A SECURITY COMAPNY FOR SAFEKEEPING ON TATOOINE.

    THE FUNDS WERE SHIPPED BY A COURIER SERVICE AS DIPLOMATIC ITEMS OF HIGH
    VALUES TO PREVENT THEM FROM KNOWING THE CONTENT.

    WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO friend IS TO INDICATE YOUR INTEREST THAT YOU WILL ASSIST ME BY RECEIVING THE MONEY ON OUR BEHALF ON TATOOINE AND ASSIST IN
    INVESTING THIS MONEY IN ANY LUCRATIVE BUSINESS LIKE MOISTURE FARMS AND
    STOCK IN MULTI-PLANETARY COMPANIES AND OTHER SAFE LUCRATIVE INVESTMENT IN YOUR SECTOR.

    MAY I AT THIS POINT EMPHASISE THE HIGH LEVEL OF CONFIDENTIALITY, WHICH
    THIS BUSINESS DEMANDS, AND HOPE YOU WILL NOT BETRAY THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE WHICH I REPOSE IN YOU.

    IN CONCLUSION,IN THE EVENT YOU ARE INTRESTED TO ASSIST ME I WILL LIKE
    YOU TO CONTACT MY LAWYER WHO I HAVE STATIONED IN MOS EISLEY TO WITHNESS THE TRANSACTION TO IT’S CONCLUTION.

    YOU CAN REACH HIM ON HIS DIRECT LINE VIA MAIL [email removed for protection], HIS NAME IS WATTO THE TOYDARIAN, I HAVE THE FULL TRUST IN
    HIM.

    FINALLY, I HAVE SET ASIDE 15% OF THE TOTAL SUM OF THE FUNDS FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE,AND 5% FOR ANY ESPENCES THAT SHALL BE INCURED DURING THIS TRANSACTION.PLEASE BE FREE TO DISCUSS WITH MY LAWYER.

    I SINCERELY WILL APPRECAITE YOUR ACKNOWLEDGMENT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

    HELP US, friend, YOU ARE OUR ONLY HOPE.

    BEST REGARDS,
    PRNCSS. L. ORGANA

  14. fairyhedgehog Says:

    Sylvia, that’s brilliant!

  15. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    This is really funny, Sylvia. It suggests a whole new literary genre.

    And Gary’s link leads to a fascinating piece about people reverse-engineering the Nigerian scam, which in turn leads to an amazing, if ultimately depressing, website run by people who do exactly that. It has a “trophy room” that displays pictures of would-be scammers doing idiotic things in order to meet conditions for delivery of the money, and virtually all of them are black, African, and obviously impoverished. (I would also add, although it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the writer of the article) that they’re probably tools of the people who are actually running the scams. Still, it’s good to know that someone is actually turning around and biting these thieves.

    And thank you to FHH for giving me the Monty Python derivation of “spam.” Good to know.

  16. Fancy Scam-by-mail Offering « The Smell of Molten Projects in the Morning Says:

    […] Well, maybe the FBI didn't do anything, but there's an absolutely wonderful riff based on this letter. I'll only quibble about the 57 Chevy… it was […]

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