The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
The Spam of Confessions of the Professions
A realistic observation into the amount of spam most companies and websites get might seem unrealistic, but spam email accounts for 86% of all the email sent globally. This means that just about 14% of all emails sent worldwide actually matter to people. This email is mostly personal, business, and generally emails people want to receive including newsletters, discount offerings, sign up or registration emails, lost password emails, informative emails, and other types of emails that people generally are okay with receiving.
Spam email has gotten so bad that large companies, which have been the subject in the media, where they have been receiving malware and other viruses and their information is being breached, have now decided to block all email except the essential business emails they need to receive. Companies are now blocking personal email, blocking out websites such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail completely in order to eliminate the problem, as this is probably the greatest means of exposure; and most of us are certainly guilty of checking our personal emails at work at least once per day.
The majority of spam emails are probably no longer even written by people sitting in cafes anymore and are actually now automated by bots and scripts, though I am sure there are still plenty of scammers out there who take their profession seriously, and are live people. At the slightest hint of generosity and handing over your information, they are in business. They are known as phishers, scammers, and con-artists and have caught a phish! Spam emails affect all types of email accounts including personal and business.
For Confessions of the Professions email, and our spam filter actually works quite well, as the photo I am about to show you is the spam folder. There are dozens of emails that I receive every month that are legit. They are usually from individuals, bloggers, website owners, companies, startups, or marketers all seeking another home for their articles in order to gain additional exposure. We do publish to multiple feeds and we try to promote articles when we can, in hopes of course, that not only are we receiving unique content, but that our contributors are also sharing their own article, and our visitors are enjoying the material. The relationship is mutually beneficial for everyone involved. We help you, you help us. Isn’t that how the world should work? That was the intentions of starting this website! Get the word out! Deliver interesting information across the Internet for people to discover! Thank you to our contributors who keep this website going! As always, without you, we could not do what we do!
On the other side of that coin, however, comes the slew of emails from people, bots, and scripts looking to just get a “bite” from any unwilling person who will take the bait!
Check it out:
In the past, I wrote on the topic of Nigerian scams, and it seems to have only escalated the emails. In the course of 8 days, we received about 30 spam emails. The computer screen was not large enough to capture the rest, and just during writing this, we received a couple more emails all soliciting for a hopeful catch. All of these emails claim that we won the Nigerian lottery, or the king of some country wants to give us money, or that we have a dying aunt in South Africa who is waiting to give us her inheritance, or that we have a lot of money waiting for us in some bank in a country that I had no idea even existed, or that someone was dying and they wanted to give their inheritance, or that we had a check deposited into some bank and all we needed to do was give some information in order to retrieve it directly into our own bank account. So you will notice something else with this screenshot: the emails received replies. We do our best to reply to everyone.
We do not discriminate: we treat everyone with the same respect and reply to their emails.
What do you think we replied with? In the early days when we were just curious: we would try to make conversation. Only one or two ever actually replied with something intelligible, but we immediately concluded that their email was a scam system. One of those people would only reply with things like: “I need your name and your address in order for our conversation to continue.” The other pretty much just kept sending me the same exact email. So what would we reply with for the rest of these? Well, if they really have money waiting for me, than we figure they can give me some of that money without needing any information from me. We simply tell them: “Feel free to donate to Confessions of the Professions“.
Yeah, we do not get a lot of donations, and after sending hundreds of replies with that line, we still do not get a lot of donations. But I figure, if they can keep sending the same emails over and over, expecting it to actually work, than we can keep replying back with the same line over and over, expecting it to work too. Something has got to give, right? Maybe someone will take pity on Confessions of the Professions and actually donate some money to pay for the server costs, the hosting, the domain name, and the electricity bill and laptop maintenance that helps me keep this website going!
Most times, our replies never actually receive another reply back, unless of course, sometimes you do actually see them replying, but only to resend the email, such as that of “Mr. Jack Howard”. There is only one email above that does not belong, and that belongs in a whole other category: the endless SEO companies that want your business because they know more about your website than you do. Despite writing about this confession, showing the screenshot to the Internet about how many scam artists are out there and how many emails are sent everyday with the same story, numbered in the billions: there are still going to be people all over the world who actually fall for it. Go ahead and just hand over your bank account information, your social security number, your whole life savings. Give them your password too. Let them sleep with your wife or your husband. That is ultimately what people who are gullible to scamming and phishing attempts are doing.
The screenshot above shows just how much of a business the email scam system truly is. The names above are all fake. The stories above are all fake. The fact that these emails continue coming means there are people out there who do actually fall for it and just hand over all of their information. We can only hope that you, as readers of Confessions of the Professions, know that you should not be giving over any of your information. How do we decide which one is real when we are receiving dozens of spam emails a week, hundreds of spam emails a year all generally saying the same thing. None are unique and all of them seek some type of identifying information.
First, many ask that you respond to let them know that you are interested. If they were to receive a reply, many would most likely want to retrieve your name, address, phone number. The next email will probably entice you to call them or would offer to call you, in which case, they would try to extract your bank account information or social security number over the phone because it is “more secure”. I have even had one or two offer to fly and see me, at my expense in order to “gain my trust.” One even offered to have their lawyer come with them, also at my own expense. It is the same old song and dance: a scam to try and steal your identity and rob you of any life savings you have.
Every year, the emails are being more cleverly written with new scams and new stories to try and get you to believe them. It is nothing new and these types of emails are easy to identify. If anyone asks for money over an email, chances are, you should probably do just the opposite and not give any money over an email, unless of course, you are signed up with some type of Bill Pay with your bank and they are simply reminding you to pay your bill; for which you should always go directly to the website, never click any link in the actual email. There is no reason to trust these emails. You work hard for your money and you are entitled to keep it for the few seconds it remains in your bank account before all your bills kick in and you have to pay it all out again.
When you receive the same exact email hundreds of times over the course of the year, over the years, there are none that stand out as unique and none that could convince me to hand anything over, other than maybe my first name. Sometimes I take screenshots and show these spammers that they are not the only ones sending me this email with the same headline and the same text. Perhaps, they are the same people using different email addresses, or they are all sitting in the same office and know exactly what they are doing, as some non-legit company is paying them $3 or $4 an hour. Who knows but it is all the same. The fact that they keep doing it means that of the hundreds of millions of emails they send each year, they are still getting their phish.
“Dear Beneficiary” seems to be the latest trend in the Confessions of the Professions inbox. It used to be “Sir/Madam”. At least it does keep me up to date with the latest trends in scamming.
I even had someone go as far as telling me that I needed to come to South Africa for a visit and that we could open up a bank account together. Our conversation went for several emails and I was trying to convince him that since I was putting up the money for this investment, whatever it was, that he should at least be courteous enough to pay for my plane ticket and my hotel stay in South Africa. Unfortunately, not only did he tell me that it would be best if I put up the money upfront for my visit, and absolutely no details on where exactly I was flying to or staying, but he grew so impatient that he sent another email with a brand new name and email when introducing himself and the same exact story, but upon signing his signature, he used his name from our previous emails. Desperate much?
We have attempted to try and get several interviews with these spammers, but they either stop responding or they send the same exact template yet again. The emails simply don’t stop for us, but they do reveal newer ways, from being a refugee of Syria, to being an old woman with cancer who was able to somehow raise $45 million (I can’t even get my family and friends to donate $1, so this old woman must be amazing), to having to “pose as the husband” of some woman in England, so she can claim her inheritance, to even hearing from a “U.S. soldier overseas” who has money tied up at home and needs someone to pose as him in order to get it, but all I would have to do is submit my information, to some spam emails outright asking for a passport, to which I have gladly supplied them with some “sample Passports” I found on the Internet, and that too, has never led to another email.
The emails are often the same, recurring, with many different and many similar names. I have attempted to outright blow their cover and try to get them to reveal to me some information, such as, what is your job like, how successful are you in doing this, do you work for someone, and if you are successful, do you get a bonus, or do you get to keep all the money you steal? How many emails do you actually send per day? What is it like to scam people out of their lifetime savings? How many people actually respond to you? So far, no one has ever responded to my questions.
If you do decide to believe these scams for whatever reason, before you do, all we ask is that instead of giving your money to someone you do not know, you should donate it to a better cause; donate it to Confessions of the Professions. Your money will go a lot further with us for your investment into this website than sending it outside of the United States. None of the money from donations is actually going into our pockets directly and it really does all go towards paying for the server, hosting, and website maintenance costs. Anyways, we are certainly not soliciting for handouts, but if you want to make a donation, we certainly do appreciate it! The point of this confession was to make everyone aware of how much spam we are actually receiving: a lot! The world is receiving an insane amount of spam email everyday! We get at least a dozen spam emails a week that do get filtered as spam, but it doesn’t stop us from checking that box!