I don't know about you, but I've always found spam fascinating. Sure, it's a pain in the ass, but where does it come from? Who sends it out? How exactly does it end up in your spam folder or, if the spam lucks out, in your in-box? Michael Marshall (Smith) had a great theory about e-mail spam in his Straw Men trilogy. I won't give it away but just say that I thought it was brilliant, wish I had come up with it first.
Note too that I don't like these people. They're despicable, though not nearly as despicable as plagiarists. The thing about spammers is that it's a two-way street. They have to send out the e-mails, and someone has to respond. And let's face it, someone does respond, because why else would these spammers go to such lengths? That, I think, is what I find most fascinating, that there are people out there that actually fall for this bullshit.
Anyway, the best way to avoid spam is to never put your e-mail address anywhere online, or if you must -- like I have on my contact page -- then mix up the address with (at)'s and (com)'s so whatever spam-crawler there is out there can't grab it.
I should have done the same thing when I posted the Hint Fiction submission address. Instead, like an idiot, I included the entire thing, even hyperlinked it, and you know what? The spammers had a field day. In fact, they're still having a field day, because when I log into the account every so often, the spam folder will be bulging with spam e-mails. Some even managed to sneak in undetected into the in-box. And I said to myself: I could delete these, sure, but what fun would that be?
So I opened one of them and responded, just to see what might happen. Below is the correspondence so far. Note that names and e-mail addresses have not been changed to exploit the guilty. Also, not a word of the spammer's e-mail has been touched (I personally think the people behind these scams are very intelligent and know proper grammar and write the e-mails this way to make them seem "more realistic").
from oulim george <firstname.lastname@example.org> to date Sun, Oct 25, 2009 at 4:18 AM subject Hi My New Friend, signed-by sbcglobal.net
Hi My New Friend,
How are you? my name is Oulim George it is my great pleasure to contact you through this media requesting for a relationship and i know that you will grant my request in good faith and understanding while we see what happened in future.
I will be very happy if you can write me back so that l will tell you more about me and also send my picture and details about my self, you should remember that distance, color, language or race cannot be barriers. i will be waiting to hear from you,
Your new friend,
And now here's my simple response to get the ball rolling:
from Hint Fiction Anthology <email@example.com> to oulim george <firstname.lastname@example.org> date Sun, Nov 1, 2009 at 12:17 AM subject Re: Hi My New Friend, mailed-by gmail.com
I don't have many friends. Will you be my friend?
And then a pretty instant reply:
from oulim george <email@example.com> to Hint Fiction Anthology <firstname.lastname@example.org> date Sun, Nov 1, 2009 at 7:00 AM subject Hello Dear signed-by sbcglobal.net
Hello Dear, Thanks for your message. How are you,hope you are doing fine?I think you are the type of man i want in my life,i want someone who knows how to treat and take care of woman. Well,as a young girl i am seaching for a good friend and a man who is ready to love and be loved,a man who does not take advantage of women and a man who can be trusted,it does not matter where he comes from, nor race,as long as thier is understanding and love. I am a humble and gentle girl,I am very caring and i am the type who will do everything posisble to make my man happy so that the love which we shall have will be a lasting one. My name is Oulim George,i am 24yrs old,from Liberia. I do not smoke,i do not drink and i eat healthy food. My hobbies are swimming,listening to good music,especialy Rnb and gospel music, i like reading books. I am a truthfull and well brought up girl from a good family.When my parents were alive,they thought me so many good things and even now they are no more i have seen the importance of getting a good upbringing. I believe life is about to learn every day. No one is perfect .I want to find someone to share happiness with me,well,not only happiness because life is not pink,but share difficult times too and make them easier with love and understanding.i hope that person is you.I am looking forward to better days ahead as i feel this is the start of a great relationship.
This is all i can say about me for now,as time goes on and as we become more closer,i will tell you more about me and we can share more personal secrets with each other. I send my pics with this message.Please darling tell me more about yourself and give me your pics.I don't have my private number for now but you can call me on the Reverend number, his name is Pastor Davies. Cheers,
Plus this picture (she must think she's Spider-man):
And then my reply:
from Hint Fiction Anthology <email@example.com> to oulim george <firstname.lastname@example.org> date Sun, Nov 1, 2009 at 5:32 PM subject Re: Hello Dear mailed-by gmail.com
Well, people would call me a masochist, but I think I'm just misunderstood. The stuff that happened to the animals wasn't my fault, and besides, the police were never able to prove any of it was my doing anyway. I like reading and watching DVDs and long walks on the beach. I also like huffing glue, notably Elmer's. I think they make the best glue to huff, must be something in the chemicals. Let's see ... I like pepperoni pizza, I like Spam sandwiches, I like parking in handicapped spaces at the mall even though I'm not handicapped just so that the real handicapped people have to park farther away. I steal cable because I love HBO but think it's too expensive otherwise. My favorite show of all time is Big Love, because he has three wives. What is your opinion on polygamy? I await your reply ...
And that's it for now. When there's more, you better believe I'll post it here.