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My theory of why spam continues.
So, unless you have one of those awesome spam filters, and perhaps even then, you get tons of spam in your inbox, selling things from ED drugs, to weight-loss drugs, to software, money and stock scams. Excluding those last two for the moment, we've all wondered "Who buys this stuff?" We'll, we're all told that very very few do, but for those that do respond to the ads, enough money changes hands to make it worthwhile.

Well, really? Don't you think that anyone that would be suckered into buying would already have bought by now?

Here's a totally off-the-wall guess of what's really happening.

Firstly, while we all see thousands of sites advertising drugs, there's really just a handful of sites that actually SELL the drugs. All the rest are 'affiliates'. What the site does is advertise for 'webmasters' to become an affiliate for the drug store, which entails either offering for the 'webmaster' to drive traffic to the store with a cut of successful sales in return, or perhaps offering to set up a 'shopfront' themselves, with the real store doing all the work.

I put 'webmasters' in quotes, because these companies know full well that they'll get orders of magnitudes more spammers doing the advertising than real webmasters. Sure, they all have 'do not spam' in their terms of service, but all this does is allows them to wash their hands of the spammers if they get caught, and also gives them an excuse to not 'pay out' if the spammer DOES get reported. To say they 'don't support spammers' is just a laugh.

Anyway... back on track... someone who's a bit short of money, and a bit short of ethics, decides to see how much money they could make being an affiliate. They sign up at the store to get their ID, then they pop onto one of several spammer boards to see who could distribute their spam. (or, just take up one of the spammers own spammed offers). Not wanting to be fleeced, the affiliate asks the spammer how effective this really is. After all, the affiliate himself has NEVER bought anything that was advertised with spam.

The spammer's pitch might go like this: "Sure, the return rate is really low. But... I'm offering to send spam to 200,000,000 addresses, so even if your hit rate is just 0.001%, that's still 2000 customers, and if you get $10 from each, that's $20,000. Not convinced? Okay, I'll send some spam to a few thousand addresses, and you tell me how many hits you get."

The customer, seeing this as a free way to try out the spammers words, takes the spammers deal. Spammer sends out the spam, but also sends it to two of his OWN addresses. Using the information there, he goes to the website and buys some product. The affiliate sees that out of the few thousand mails being sent, he got two hits! He's convinced, and signs up with the spammers service to send out 200,000,000 million addresses and pays up.

The spammer sends out the 200,000,000 million addresses. But then he ALSO reports some of the spam he received to the drug web site, who shuts down the affiliate's account. The drug company doesn't care, since they've already getting any of the business that the spam sent out might have generated. The affiliate, cut off fro the account, never finds out how successful the campaign actually was.

So... the drug web site got their money. The spammer got his money. The affiliate was fleeced out. And we all have to put up with the spam... all for nothing.

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For those that have Windoze Office suite
(including me.. darn corporations that we work for..)

I would reccomend Spambayes for Outlook.

Looking at the statistics from it:
4.8% of the email I get is actually for me..

I've had 1 false positive(good classified as spam) so far out of 14,671 emails :p

this was an interesting model when you first told me about it. makes sense t'me!

Sounds quite accurate, actually. More or less the same theory I've been toying with. :)

And interesting theory, but then again, I've had "intelligent" (and I use the term loosely) come running up to me to tell me they can't get only a bank's site to verify their details. They clicked on the link on the email, but it can't find the web page. (Naturally because the real bank has taken down the phishing site). And they have done this multiple times. Because of this, I am sure there is a small percentage of the population that dillegently reads all their spam and goes "Maybe I am not satisfying my wife" and runs off to buy dodgie pharacutical products.

Under the new guidelines at work, we had to put blocks in place to prevent anyone from accidently viewing any email that the central system had tagged as spam. No too hard to do, a bundle of procmail filters. Two people complained. Yes, they did want to see all that spam. I offered to give them everyone elses as well.

It's a completely valid idea, and I'm sure it's being used, much like I'm sure people still shill bid on eBay, and otherwise screw each other till Tuesday.

It's a sad world we live in.


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