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SPAM: serious virus or poorly-executed marketing strategy?

SPAM. We all know it. We all loathe it, and no I am not talking about the “faux” ham.

I am talking about those annoying emails that somehow creep their way into your inbox and in one hit infiltrate your system and before you know it, your computer is infected and it’s virus central.

According to Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report Volume XIV there has been a 92 percent increase in SPAM messages since 2007 as hackers employ more sophisticated techniques to infiltrate systems and steal your information.

They are an annoyance to email users and the first instinct is to hit the delete button. But I came across one yesterday in my inbox that was so ridiculous it was almost laughable. I never thought SPAM could bring me such joy (and pain at the same time). So, I would like to share it with you today.

It started off with Dearest One (I was laughing already at this point) then went on to explain that the person in question was the wife of a former general director of Sierra-Leone who was assassinated by rebels. (almost sounds like a Steven Spielberg movie… and this was only the first paragraph!). It then went on to explain that the lady and her son escaped the country and set about coming to Australia. She then proposed a “business idea” to me, claiming that I needed to work with her to establish this venture, “both of us is (sic) going to work out something in life by the special grace of God.” (Ahh… sure lady).

It then went on to explain (now this bit is gold.. literally) that in her possession was a container of gold dust and the sum of $US7 million. “Now I and my son (sic) have decided to transfer this money and sell this gold in your country… we want you to help us claim and retrieve those (sic) gold and money from the fund holders and transfer it to your country for investment purposes.” Apparently for my efforts I would receive 25 percent of the profits. Not a bad way to make a few bucks, right?

After having a good old laugh I deleted it from my inbox. But apparently the damage had already been done, because when I returned to work the next day not only had they sent it to me again, but also to two of my colleagues. Uh Oh. So there in lies the problem. Despite the fact that it was a poorly-executed marketing strategy and an annoying piece of SPAM that NO-ONE in their right mind would actually take seriously, they still managed to extract information from my colleagues.

Perhaps the more outlandish SPAM emails are the ones that actually catch people out because they are so laughable that you just HAVE to have a read. (By the way, if you happen to come across this email.. no matter how funny it is.. please delete it straight away).

Last week I discussed the benefits to small business on creating an online presence. Perhaps this should be a timely reminder that SPAM and viruses are one of the downfalls of the web, so it’s important to be extra vigilant about security measures. Either that or it provided you with a good laugh for your Thursday.

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while… it means I have gone off with my new found friend in search of gold dust and $US7 million.