Spam Mail

You’re most likely familiar with spam mail. They come in droves, wave after wave, and clutter the foot of your door. You don’t know why you get them, but you certainly don’t enjoy seeing any of it. And you certainly don’t want to read that garbage.

They call it spam for a reason. So much of it is completely useless to us, sometimes unreadable and even hated. Just about every single one is a scam; but there’s a tiny, slim imaginary chance that they could be telling the truth. Improbable? Certainly. Impossible? Probably.

But regular paper mail has become increasingly outdated as time goes on, and companies are quick to move on: the internet has become cheaper, faster and, in certain cases, sleazier. Input your email or contact details to just about anything, and there’s a large chance it’ll be sold to other companies and corporations.

You might wonder what this information is used for; but if you’re familiar with using email for longer than about a week, you’ll be familiar with the ‘Spam’ section of your inbox. Most people will simply ignore it–and the ever-increasing number next to it–and go on their merry way.

I’ve gained a habit of periodically checking my spam inbox for any legitimate emails that happen to have been caught by the (quite effective) spam filter. Most of the time, there’s absolutely nothing; but I still do it out of a small lick of paranoia. I’ve had this habit for about a year and a half, perhaps more, so I’ve accumulated plenty of experience in observing spam.

So let me tell you: There is absolutely nothing worth checking in that pile of garbage. Gmail’s spam filters are effective enough to keep almost everything in check, while still leaving legitimate reminders, notifications, conversations and other services in your primary inbox. And I appreciate it.

But I had an idea; what if every single spam email was “legitimate”? If none of them were scams deliberately vying for your money, personal info and various valuables, and a Nigerian prince was seriously and legitimately waiting to give inheritance money to some poor fellow, then just how much would I end up with?

On the 25th of March, I began something new. I counted and checked every single spam email offer and wrote it all down onto a list, marked the ones I counted as “read” and cleared my spam inbox accordingly. For the next two weeks, I counted every single offer from the depths of my junk filter; one after another. My accounting ended on the 6th of April.

It quickly became tedious, but I marched on: I gather about fifty to sixty (sometimes even a hundred) spam mails every single day, and boy does it add up. Upon counting each kind of spam mail, I would delete it and move on until I had 0 spam mail left in my inbox. At some point, I felt like I was a single Excel spreadsheet away from doing my taxes.

Duplicate spam mails (offers from the same company or scam artist) were counted separately; for example, an email saying I got a free trial for Rainbow Kitty Litter counted as 1 free trial. But if I were to get another email saying the exact same thing in the exact same format and style, I added it together; therefore, two kitty litter trials.

If I hadn’t done this, I bet the list would’ve become a lot shorter–but a whole lot lessmore slow and painful to complete. Besides, if the offers were truly honest about giving me seven different free trials for the same product, I would probably be able to find some easy way to cheat the system. But how could I even think of doing such a dishonest and horrible deed to such a kind group of good samaritans? Rainbow kitty litter doesn’t grow on trees.

Either way, here is the list. I have gathered:

  • 2 Background Checks
  • 84 Testosterone Boosts (or “male enhancements”)

I assure you, the titles and contents of each email under this category were very polite, respectful and professional.

  • 4 Foods to regrow your hair
  • 39 Ukrainian/Russian Girls*
  • 3 Asian Girls*
  • 6 Things That Women Crave (that I can’t give, apparently)
  • 4 Mole & Skin Tag Removals
  • 13 Free Tactical Flashlights
  • 1 Walk-In Bathtub Quote
  • 1 Natural Pain Reliever
  • 2 Smart Pills
  • 3 Free Swiffer Samples
  • 1 Insomnia Cure
  • 3 Cannabis Consumables
  • 1 Offer of Medical Cannabis
  • 3 Tricks that lets me eat sweets without spiking blood sugar

I’m not diabetic.

  • 1 IRS Loophole
  • 3 Free Roof Covers
  • 1 Tub of Rainbow Kitty Litter

It would change colour depending on how ‘dirty’ it gets.

  • 1 Non-specific “Proposal”

I’m not planning on getting married anytime soon, but they more likely mean a business proposal.

  • 1 Offer to work with VIDA for art

They began the email praising my work and art highly in a very professional manner, failing to mention exactly what I make, when I made it, and who I even am. Textbook example of well put together spam mail that fishes for gullibility.

  • 3 Tricks to lose weight
  • 1 Trick to reverse aging skin from Ellen
  • 2 Tricks to cut my cable bill in half
  • 1 Free Quote from Terminix for Pest Control
  • 6 Free iPhone 7s
  • 6 Unspecified Kmart Coupons
  • 1 Credit Card

The email didn’t actually specify anything more. I just have a credit card now.

  • 4 $500 Aldi Gift Cards
  • 1 $500 Ebay Gift Card
  • 3 $500 Costco Gift Cards
  • 3 $500 Coles Gift Cards
  • 3 $100 Target Gift Vouchers
  • 2 $100 Applebee’s Gift Cards […anyone a fan of Applebee’s…? No?]
  • 4 $500 Bunnings Gift Cards
  • 2 $1000 Woolies Gift Cards
  • 1 Free year of Amazon Prime
  • 5 Free Samsung UHD Smart TVs 55″
  • 2 Free Under Armour Samples
  • 3 Free Craftsman Samples
  • 1 Free Bacon Burger (though I don’t eat meat)
  • 1 85% Coupon on Printer Ink (ah, if only it were real…)
  • 1 25% off satellite TV coupon
  • 2 Walgreens Surprises (whatever that entails, I didn’t inquire further)
  • 1 Trick to fix tax debt problems
  • 2 Leaked Hillary Tapes
  • 1 Free Dewalt Sample
  • 2 Spices to reverse inflammation
  • 14 Free Airplane Flights
  • 1 Free House Repair
  • 1 Free Credit Score Check
  • 4 Things that happen right before my heart attack
  • 3 Diabetes Destroyers
  • 1 Secret so powerful it was kept out of the bible

This one is most likely my favourite. All this spam mail assumes I’m a balding white guy who’s swimming in IRS debt with a host of old-white-guy medical problems and suddenly I have this ancient prophetic secret on my back.

  • 1 Navajo remedy to restore hearing (though I’m not deaf)
  • 1 Stress remedy from Jennifer Aniston

* Looking for serious dating.

As you can tell, this spam mail list seems to be catered towards very specific people: aging white guys with medical problems, tax debt and gullibility. It’s all marketed towards desperate people,. people who will try anything that comes their way to cut some costs on their finances, make ends meet or give themselves one more bit of pride. Not to mention whoever hunts for all those gift cards.

I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that “male enhancements” were in the #1 spot on the list. When it comes to spam mail, those offers roll in like a tsunami daily. I did, however, think the “Free Tactical Flashlights” were going to be much more frequent; I’ve encountered so many tactical flashlight scams all over the internet, I wouldn’t know what to do with all of them.

But hold on; that isn’t the end. We haven’t gotten into the cash offers.

Like the ‘item’ scams, I counted every duplicate offer as a separate deal. I probably would’ve gotten a lot less money, but like I’ve said, it would have been a whole lot more painful to count. But without further ado;

  • $50.00 reward
  • $5,499,895.00 from the Former United States Ambassador
  • $5,499,895.00 from the Former United States Ambassador
  • $8,000,000.00 from the military
  • $65,000,000.00 from some branch of the US military
  • $800,000,000.00 USD from United Nation Poverty Allocation Programme in China
  • $6,500,000.00 USD from Diplomat Rose Clara
  • $3,500,000.00 USD from the UPS
  • $3,500,000.00 USD from the UPS
  • $10,500,000.00 from Emirates National Oil
  • $10,500,000.00 from Western Union Office
  • $15,600,000.00 from random inheritance
  • $15,600,000.00 from random inheritance
  • $15,600,000.00 from random inheritance
  • $15,700,000.00 from Bank of Africa
  • $10,500,000.00 from the United States Department of Treasury
  • $12,800,000.00 from Federal Republic of Benin West Africa
  • $5,700,000.00 from the UBA Bank
  • $4,500,000.00 from the UBA Bank
  • $6,900,000.00 from the UBA Bank

The UBA bank is a strangely common scam subject…

  • A “huge amount of money” from the Western Union Benin Republic
  • $980,000.00 from Western Union Corporate Headquarters
  • $980,000.00 from Western Union Corporate Headquarters
  • $5,000.00 from David Moses
  • $5,000.00 from David Moses
  • $2,500,000.00 from Dennis West on Eco Bank
  • $2,500,000.00 from Money Gram International
  • $25,500,000.00 from Mr. William C.Dudley
  • $8,500,000.00 from Director of Foreign Payment
  • $8,500,000.00 from the Benin Republic
  • $500,000.00 from the Western Union
  • $4,371,000.00 from Mr. Koffijo Mlapa
  • $1,000,000.00 from Facebook

They actually had absolutely no reason to give me all of this money. I think the scam artists just attached “Facebook” to the email in order to give the impression of a company that you’re familiar with.

The final result is $1,061,140,840.00. This pile of dosh was earned in just two weeks; to contrast, Bill Gates earns about $1,000,000,000.00 bi-weekly. So in comparison, I’ve earned the same amount of money, if not more, in two weeks. Therefore, I am now making the same income as Bill Gates just by checking my email.

So what will I do with all this newly acquired money, thanks to these oh-so-generous and oh-so-honest newsletters? More importantly, what do I do with all this testosterone powder? And all these tactical flashlights? And how about that rainbow kitty litter?

You might be thinking to yourself; why not just click the Unsubscribe button? At the bottom of most spam mail submissions, there’s a link to halt all spam letters of that kind from ever reaching you again. So why not click it?

Trust me, you don’t wanna click that. You don’t wanna click any link in any of those emails, ever.

Just by clicking one of those links, you’ll have given out your IP address, geographic location, and in some extreme cases, where you live. It’s all done automatically and instantly; and do you ever wonder why there are link shorteners from the unsubscribe button to their “main” website? Tracking, data mining and statistics: sometimes, they’re not even expecting you to fill out their list of forms. They just want you to expose yourself. Often times the “unsub” button even leads to the same link as the “Buy now” button.

In worst case scenarios, the webpage you visit will contain malware. The best case scenario of this worst case scenario is that the webpage will simply ask you to start a download. You can quickly and clearly back out of this just by clicking “cancel”.

But the worst of the worst case scenario lies in “drive-by attacks”; hidden scripts, exploits or otherwise to elevate its own privileges beyond your control and quickly execute its own code without failure.

If you truly cannot stand the tidal wave of spam offers in your spam inbox, I suggest you look into using a Proxy or VPN (Virtual Private Network) before going down the rabbit hole of Unsubscribe links. If you’re truly paranoid for malware, add another layer of security by using a Virtual Machine to emulate a different PC setup inside of your own operating system.

Seedy companies will attempt to do just about everything possible to steal your identity and information. It’s best to just ignore the spam mail bin entirely, and if you read the contents of those scams, make sure not to click Display Images. Trust me, JPEGs can get weird when people look for exploits in every inch of web browser source code.

And you might be wondering: What if one of those offers were actually real? What if there was only one in a million chance of random inheritance truly passing down to me, and what if I truly hit the lottery and promptly threw it away without realising it? Has that happened? Did it happen just this week? Should I have answered any of those emails?

The answer is no. To all of those. They are never true, for absolute certain. Theoretically, there’s one person whose inheritance truly is supposed to be passed onto some random balding old white guy who struggles with erectile dysfunction, but the chances of that happening–let alone happening to you–are absolutely miniscule.