The Evolution of E-mail Spam

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Every now and then, just for laughs, I go through my spam folder and see what the idiot scammers are currently trying out on their intended victims. While the specific language varies, the scams are largely unchanged since I began paying attention about ten years ago: help me get money out of my country, I’ve been robbed and need your help, I bet you’d like to have the biggest one in four counties, I’m the girl of your dreams and can’t wait to have sex with you.

Basic economics tells us that spammers and scammers wouldn’t bother with this sort of thing if it wasn’t successful at least some of the time, which also tells us that there are some spectacularly stupid people in the world.

(More on Techland: Two Minute Video: 10 Simple Gmail Tricks)

This morning, while reading my tech news, I came upon this post at Torrentfreak which, if correct, tells us that sometimes, the only difference between a spammer douchebag and a scammer douchebag is the way they’re trying to take your money. This time, it’s Zaptunes, the latest too-good-to-be-true DRM-free music scam:

“A few days ago various news outlets reported on the existence of Zaptunes, a new site offering DRM-free MP3 downloads for $25. Zaptunes claimed to have 8 million tracks available from the Big Four labels and untold others. As a nice introductory offer, Zaptunes offered their services free for 30 days. Nice.”

Torrentfreak did some nice investigative journalism, and uncovered 13 reasons Zaptunes is, in their words, “bullshit” among them:

12. Another URL that redirects to Zaptunes is www.24hfunds.com. Readers of this discussion thread on TalkGold will see that by page 6, the scheme promoted by its owner was deemed to be a scam. A search on Google for ’24hfunds and scam’ turned up 5,000 results.

For a long time, scammers who hoped to rip people off set themselves up with something related to porn, because getting porn online wasn’t always as simple and free as it is now, and when the victim realized he’d been scammed, he’d usually be too embarrassed to do anything formal about it. Since getting free porn is about as difficult as using a search engine these days, I wonder if scammers have figured out that everyone hates DRM, so they’re moving into scams that hope to exploit that animosity, now. So, Zaptunes is pretty clearly a scam, and the person or persons behind it are pretty obvious dirtbags … but they’re not entirely stupid dirtbags, because they’ve found a way to create the appearance of serving a need in the market, namely the hatred people have for DRM.

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