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A Dispatch

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November 10, 2007

More To: Field Inanity

I guess I haven't yet gotten the misuse of the To: field in email messages out of my system. But this time, in addition to the bad stuff that it does (i.e., primarily putting all email addresses in the list at risk of being harvested by malware residing on any one of the recipients' PCs), there was also a bit of good that came with a 102-address list in a To: field.

Today's exhibit arrived in the form of a 419 advance-fee scam. I rarely have time to read fiction lately, so a little short story of hardship and a pot o' gold can make for a nice little respite from the tons of non-fiction reading I do all day.

One of the cardinal rules of 419 messages has seemed to be that the recipient was somehow singled out by the sender as being the one person in the world worthy of participating in the task of freeing tons o' money from a "security company" on another continent. Unlike most of the scam stories I've read in the past, where the recipient gets a 10-25% cut of the millions, this one gives 99% of $30 million to the recipient because the sender claims to be a preacher whose "ministry is the apocalypse and I believe and preach the soon comming of the Lord which make me not indulgent in reliance on money or wealth in any form" [enough sics to make one sick].

Our "preacher," however, sent this personal appeal to (in this batch) 102 addressees. For a brief moment, the movie It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World popped into my head: All 102 of us will make a mad scramble to Togo to get to the treasure first.

Scanning through the addresses, however, I see the final count will be less than 102. A few of the addresses were clearly harvested from web pages or old Usenet postings where the address owner had inserted some obfuscation. I also recognized addresses of a few people I know from the computer industry (a shout out to Dan Farber, David Coursey, and Chris Gulker in case you guys have ego-bots searching through blogs), although one of those addresses hasn't been active for well over ten years.

So, it appears that "Preacher Brown" will likely be hosed with this mailing. He must have paid something for sending the messages through the Czech Republic and for the address list. Based on the vintages of some addresses I recognized (including mine), these people have been 419-ed to death—not your best prospects. My dream is that he gets Zero Response to his yahoo.it email address, and that he'll be out-of-pocket for this little exercise.

It would be even better if the cops showed up at his door for a little apocalyptic action on his head.

Posted on November 10, 2007 at 09:36 AM