Forgive me, I have sinned. It has been 2 years since my last spam survey in January 2009. What can I say, time flies when you’re having fun, sanding off the bottom paint and removing the marine sanitation system (ew).
However, my predictions have borne fruit. In the face of a swelling thrust from many new and exciting categories, penis enlargement spam has been holding its own. It’s still at 11% of the total, but that now represents the leading category overall. Dicks are solid!
My other prediction was that the poor economy in the USA would result in a swathe of new, exciting categories. Hard Times when we’re faced with rising bills, bankruptcy, foreclosures, expensive tarts, no skills, and no work. There are now nearly 50 distinct categories up from 15. Crikey!
The fragmentation of the spam target audience, as defined by the subjects targeted is showing some interesting trends. Away from the interests of the young (posh watches, hot deals and handbags) and tending to the concerns of the older netizen (wrinkles, health concerns). Presuming the aged are joining the ‘net in droves. This I hadn’t specifically predicted in ‘09, but now that everyone’s mother and grandmother are on Facebook, this is gonna be the biggie. More of this later.
Big losers? The on-line pharma category has lost most over time, down from 56% to 19% to 2% now. On-line software “deals” that were steals are gone, from about 15%. The fake watches are in decline, down more than 10%. And diets have shrunk to almost invisible proportions. Perhaps no-one feels like dieting when the economy is depressed.
Here are the raw results*, with commentary. Remember the nasty things in your spam filter can be hazardous to your health, wealth and self-esteem. We risk ours so you don’t have to.
11% Viagra with discounts of 86%, 85%, 84%, 82%, 78% - all from same address on successive days. Presumably eventually it will either keep declining then drop off or shrink to nothing. Another missive has a mysterious (but true) statement, “They say impotence is a punishment for wrong deeds men do.” Indeed. Drinking, smoking, drug abuse...all help to keep your masculine personhood pointing down for sure.
8% Auto insurance...this must be a “Hard Times” category. “The insurance is too high!” Remarkable amount of it though. Man's best friend is his car.
7% Fake medical certification (pharmacy assistant, nurses)...obviously you can fake it and ca$h in! You’re a dolt for not doing it sooner, clearly. And look at all the free drugs you can steal!
6% Posh watches. Bewilderingly popular. Wear a $25 copy of a $25,000 watch that is not worth, er, $2.50.
5% Credit/bankruptcy fixing. I thought we’d have more of these, US economy being as it is. Nevertheless a respectable showing.
4% Russian wives. Another economic sign of the times in both USA and Russia. I guess interest in renting cheap tarts for 3 years has been aroused in the former. Probably a cross-promotion for cheap Viagra.
4% Laser eye surgery (throw away your glasses). Oh yes, I’m gonna use cheap lasers to fix up my eyesight. Might not need glasses at all after that. And worse things happen.
4% Extended car warranty...your most treasured family member might have a serious illness, act now!
4% Drug or other damages settlements. So you think you might wanna sue Big Pharma or the asbestos industry? Give us money first.
4% Film/photography schools in your area. Coming soon. This seems aimed at the sad geeks in anoraks. Usually a way for men to look closely at lightly clothed women in my experience, what with poking their light-meters in yer erogenous zones.
3% Satellite TV. Never pay for HD Sports again. TV is for non-participants in the game of life, apparently.
3% Work from home - divorced, broke, single? Sit on the couch crying, and make money fa$t?
3% DirectBuy complimentary visitors pass. Must be one of those new private prisons.
2% Replacements/”Pieces” - ambiguous replacement pieces for your things, presumably.
2% Life insurance. One promises, “No Waiting”. Hmm...so, if I insure with them, I’ll die now? Not a great prospect. I guess it’s all about timing?
2% Codeine/Hydrocodone. For heaven’s sake, get help if you’re thinking of buying pain killers on-line. Or perhaps get one of those pharmacy assistant on-line certificates.
2% Hybrid cars. Going for the upper-crust gullible yuppie here. C’mon...not gonna happen.
2% Gambling - you play, we pay. This has got to be the most unlikely promise. Except for all the other ones..
2% On-line Auctions. Send money away to strangers and in return...you’ll be sorry. Guaranteed.
2% JC Penney wants me to text him. Probably some weirdo stalker American. Pass.
Now we'.re down to the one-offs.
1% Cruise deals. Perhaps this should be in the Golden Age section. What’s 900 feet long and smells of urine? Answer: A line dance on a cruise ship. Stolen joke alert!
1% Scrapbooking...probably a false positive, it’s so...wholesome.
1% House of White Bitches - CLEARANCE...woo!... oh...on second reading that's Birches. Sadly this is actually about quilting and also probably a false positive. Thought I’d found my place on the intertubularities** for a moment there. I feel malignant now. Good name for a website though. Or a song.
1% Social Security Disability - or How to Cheat a Bankrupt Nation of Monopoly money. I’m not in the US so I can say, “Get back to work and pay your taxes, ageing slackers!”
1% gapkids deals from 2 for $12. Look, at this price, I’ll order a hundred and send them to the First World. There are people there “trying to have babies”. They might welcome the relief from the pressure, time of the month, temperature testing, shagging to a schedule, lack of restful sleep, crying jags when kids are present etc. They’ll definitely get more sleep now. Promise.
1% 2 years of quilting patterns. Gosh darn, that’s seriously too generous to pass up. Gotta be false positive?
1% Coupons to chain fast food restaurants. Get your obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease at the lowest price possible!
1% Discover your body mass...whoa...I just put my hand “down there” and I discovered it! Yay!
1% Sign up for email jokes. No need of that. Almost all of my email consists of jokes, actually. In the 3 days this spam survey covers I got exactly 5 other emails, including one from an 18-year old Ghanaian admirer via Facebook, also spam. So I do not lack for humour in my life. Seriously.
1% Free psychic readings. I didn’t see this coming. What a dolt.
1% Health test. OK, you tested positive for Magrathea***, which is caused by a fat wallet rubbing against your thighs. Causes incompetence, incontinence and impotence. We can help.
1% Country Store. Far too...nice to be evil, surely?
1% “Is this still your email?” Yep.
1% Bathroom remodelling. Let’s say a few percent of people are doing up their bathroom. Most of the rest are fixing a broken toilet or sitting on it reading “Great Expectations”. Niche market surely.
1% “Have a look at this website from my friend Jamie.” Well he might be your friend, but he’s not mine. Last Jamie I heard of was a character on Dr. Who.
1% “Focus on what's right.” Is that “right “ as in correct, virtuous, libertarian or conservative? This probably belongs in a category called “to sad, puzzled persons”.
1% re: I hope you understand. No, I didn’t send an email hoping you would understand. Understand?
1% Abs diet. White meat only presumably. Food nazis, I fear. Or would that be the pecs diet? Er...
1% Home security. From break-ins or foreclosures I wonder?
1% Gap card. Card with a hole in it? Surely false positive.
1% Grocery coupons - could it be genuinely aimed at the kluless koupon klipperz?
Then there’s the stuff I call the Golden Age categories. Now the first boomer is turning 65 I predict a serious future for this group.
(I think I get most of these ‘cos I told facebook I was 90 years old and their security is about as useful as a proverbial silk stocking condom. They’re all about selling their users anyway. On fb I get ads for incontinence products, wrinkle removers and retirement homes. All good reasons not to go there.)
3% Erase wrinkles/dark circles. Hack no...I earned those b’tards. I intend to take them with me to my grave. Although in honesty this could be aimed at persons of any age after puberty.
2% Power wheechairs(sic) - clearly we’ll need these to whiz around the mall. Unless we have our incontinence pads on.
1% In-home care. Well what with the power wheechair stunt accidents I’ll probably need it.
1% Walk in tubs - ‘cos we can’t get a legover anymore, not even into the bath.
1% Dance schools. Old geezers, wheeing and wheezing along to Beatles and James Last.
1% 50 plus singles - that is code for “over 70’s hot to meet babes”. Using protection in these relationships presumably means the aforementioned incontinence products.
Update: In contemplation of all this, and in talking to a few not-so-computer-literate types, I think that it is obvious (as any fule kno****) that there are a lot of spam messages about older folks' concerns 'cos that's where the naive users are now. It's not hard to imagine my 80-year old mother clicking on a bunch of links promising quilting patterns. Well in her case, it is, but you get my drift.
So a lot of the main categories (e.g. ED) are probably mostly aimed at wrinklies.
* In the interests of Science, I should declare my methodology.
Open my gmail email spam folder.
Read the summaries of the latest 100 declared spam.
** Stolen joke alert! Pharyngula started it, afaik. After some beastly US legislator said the ‘net was just a bunch of ol’ tubes. Sauce! I spent much of my working life down these particular rabbit holes...