Spammers Craftier In 05

    December 28, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

America Online just released its annual Top Ten Spam List, a collection of email subject lines that, says the company, illustrates that spammers are getting more “sophisticated, devious, and dangerous.”

The list is dominated by what AOL calls “SOS” (“Special Order Spam”), spam with subject lines that utilize trick personalization tactics rather than generic product pitches. Examples of SOS subject lines are “Your Mortgage Application is Ready,” “Thank You,” or “Re:” where it appears they are responding to the recipient.

AOL’s 2005 Top 10 spam subject lines include:

1) Donald Trump Wants You – Please Respond (popular recognition)

2) Double Standards New Product – Penis Patch (sexually oriented spam)

3) Body Wrap: Lose 6-20 inches in one hour (body improvement products)

4) Get an Apple iPod Nano, PS3 or Xbox 360 for Free (technology offers)

5) It’s Lisa, I must have sent you to the wrong site (“personalized” correspondence)

6) Breaking Stock News** Small Cap Issue Poised to Triple (stock scams)

7) Thank you for your business. Shipment notification [77FD87] (bogus transactional spam)

8) [IMPORTANT] Your Mortgage Application is Ready (mortgage-related scams)

9) Thank you: Your $199 Rolex Special Included (high-end “deals”)

10) Online Prescriptions Made Easy (pharmaceutical)

“Spammers have been on a year-long mission to mislead and deceive in 2005,” said Charles Stiles, AOL’s Postmaster – who helps direct AOL’s 24/7/365 spam fighting unit. “While the volume of spam reaching AOL email inboxes has remained at low levels compared to it’s height in late 2003, the spam that’s out there is more insidious, crafty, devious, and dangerous than ever.”

Stiles called the global network of spammers a “tightly knit, controlled web-based spam mafia.”

Along with AOL’s top 10 list, Stiles has also provided tips to help consumers win the “war on spam” and protect themselves from special order attacks.

1) Protect ALL personal information online. Don’t give out any personal information in response to spam – in fact, don’t respond to spam at all! Also, it’s not just your social security number and financial information you’ll want to protect. Some spammers start by asking for simple information like your name, phone number or address, which could lead to follow-up, more personalized and targeted spam.

2) Don’t click on links in spam. Avoid hyperlinks in junk email; in many cases they will take you to a spammer or scammer’s Web site.

3) Keep spam filters up to date. Make sure your PC’s spam filters are updated, and “fine tune” your spam folder regularly. By customizing and grooming your spam filters, you’ll increase the amount of good mail you get, and divert the junk to your spam folder.

4) If it looks suspicious, report it. Remember, spam is getting more and more difficult to identify, so if there is any question about an email’s legitimacy, pass it along to the experts to investigate. The more you report spam to your ISP, the more it will help companies like AOL to hunt spammers down and put them out of business.