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June 07, 2006

Mortgage Spammers Digging a Deeper Hole

The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act includes the following provision:

Prohibition of deceptive subject headings
It is unlawful for any person to initiate the transmission to a protected computer of a commercial electronic mail message if such person has actual knowledge, or knowledge fairly implied on the basis of objective circumstances, that a subject heading of the message would be likely to mislead a recipient, acting reasonably under the circumstances, about a material fact regarding the contents or subject matter of the message (consistent with the criteria used in enforcement of section 45 of this title). (15 USC 7704(a)(2))

In plain language: Don't screw with recipients' minds via the Subject: line to get them to open your spam message.

Over the past few days, I've seen mortgage spammers thumbing their noses at this provision with a vengeance. Look at this sampling:

  • Crucial Comment of Default from Lender Danny Goodman
  • Important Comment of Repossession from Bank
  • Danny Goodman Criminal Activity Review

I'd expect this kind of thing from crackers who want to get you to visit a web page or open an attachment that silently loads malware to take over your PC, but all the mortgage lead clowns are doing is drawing more attention to themselves. Which is good, in a way, if the FTC is able to get on their cases (it's probably just one clown). As long as these spamming jerks keep sending it to me, I'll keep forwarding it to the FTC (spam@uce.gov), as you should, as well.

While seasoned spam haters recognize these subject lines as being bogus without even viewing the message's source code, the vast majority of casual email users' knees will buckle upon seeing any of these subject lines with their names in them. They don't understand that any kind of critical message of this variety would never be sent (or sent exclusively) via email. Real threats arrive by certified or registered postal mail.

Posted on June 07, 2006 at 12:19 PM