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A New Breed of Spammers Attack: Desperate Businesses

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It's bad enough having to deal with torrents of mis-spelled Viagra and weight-loss spam. It's bad enough digging out from under torrents of Windows email malware. It's bad enough getting bombarded with phishes. Now I'm seeing an increase in yet another type of spam: desperate businesses getting suckered into dumb spam schemes.

I suppose that hard times drive people to do dumb things. But it's no good when they're self-defeating. Let's take an informal poll: how many of you sign up to receive commercial email alerts or newsletters? I have about a dozen and that's enough for me. I get coupons and sale notices from a few stores, and I discard most of them. I'm a frugal shopper and I don't just run out and buy stuff, I have to have a good reason.

Lately I've been getting gobs of spam from real businesses. I'm guessing they're all using the same spammer companies because they all say pretty much the same thing: "Thank you for signing up for our friendly newsletter thingy from your business that you like!" Liar pants on fire. I bet the opt-out links don't work.

At first I thought these were ordinary fraud spams, but then I called a few on the old-fashioned telephone and confirmed that yes indeed, they are real live businesses. Some are retail stores. A lot of them are "consultants" of various types, and I wonder how these folks make a living even in boom times because they're selling research, advice, whitepapers, studies, and those sorts of things. OK, so maybe there is a market for them, even if I don't see the point.

One gentleman who actually agreed to discuss the issue with me admitted that he could be spamming, though the "marketing service" he is using claims that their email lists are well-maintained and opt-in only, and nobody will get mad at him. He wouldn't tell me who it is, and even if they're not entirely perfect he is desperate and doesn't care if they do spam a little. My guess is they're 100% spam, but hey, why split hairs.

I have some sympathy for people in his position, and no sympathy for the bottom-feeders who prey on people like him. He's wasting his money and possibly alienating potential customers; the only ones cashing in are the spam company.

Please folks, don't spam. Get a paper route, go pick up returnable cans and bottles, write a sign with a sob story and stake out an on-ramp. Anything is more honorable than spamming, even panhandling.

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