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Why Spam persists?

In a recent talk I did, someone from the audience asked what those emails about lottery winnings and million dollar inheritance are all about? How will one know if they’re true or not?

That, ladies and gents, is the reason why spam still persists — humans’ inherent curiosity.


I replied — if it’s too good to be true, it must be spam. The battle against spam is a battle of numbers. Yeah, most internet users nowadays know the difference between legit email and spam as well as anti-spam technology getting more and more robust yet that does not seem to stop them spammers. Well, all they have to do is work harder.

Just look at the stats gathered by Postini (email security company recently bought by Google):

Spam Stats

That’s about 10 to 12 Billion spam emails each month in the last 6 months. Let’s then factor that number into the economics of spamming.

If out of the 12 Billion spam emails sent, 99% are caught by anti-spam filters, the remaining 1% is still 120 million strong. Of that 120 million, if only 1% of the spam that gets thru to the average person’s inbox actually converts, that boils down to 1,200,000 successfully monetizable spam. If each one can generate the spammer $1, that would net him $1.2 million a month. And that’s just for email. In the Philippines, 88% of emails are spam.

About 15 months ago, blog anti-spam service Akismet reported 90% of the trackbacks and comments on blogs are spam. Today, that figure isn’t any better. About 9.7 million out of the 10.8 million comments/trackbacks are spam each day as tracked by Akismet and over 2.55 billion so far in the last 19 months.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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6 Responses

  1. jhay says:

    Ah yes, when money talks, everyone listens. Almost….

  2. Jaypee says:

    If only we can use this type of spam to feed all the hungry people in the world. Hehe :D

  3. Dexter says:

    It is because spamming is also a bussiness..I do believe that they earn a lot from this also,

  4. Kiven says:

    yep. if its too good to be true…it probably is.

  5. BrianB says:

    But what if it IS true. You never know, Kiven.

  6. Years before the Internet well known techniques for parting victims (marks) from their money were well known and commonly practiced. Typically these are called “confidence schemes”. The crook takes the mark “into his confidence” playing upon the common human desire to know something others do not … to be part of something exclusive … and to get something without earning it. The term “bunco” or “bunko” used to be in common use to describe these “con artists”.

    Most email spam operates upon the same principle as the non-Internet variety, the simple truth of “you can’t cheat an honest man”. As long as there are thousands of people per day willing to accept winnings from lotteries they didn’t enter, or bank accounts of relatives they know are not their kin, spam wail continue.

    A few months ago I read a report that in Australia, a relatively small, well-educated population, supposedly a “savvy” nation, more than 100,000 validated victims of the “419” Nigerian scam had been reported to the police .. some of the victims were even lawyers as I recall. Over 55,000 people in the US alone reported being involved with the sam in just one year … and this was just the ones who took the time to report it ti the FTC, true number is undoubtedly much higher.

    Solution? Easy, your mother likely taught it to you when you were a toddler. If you forgot, I’ll repeat it … don’t attempt to take anything that isn’t honestly yours … Presto, your wallet will be safe and the spam perpetrators will dry up and blow away with the wind.

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