Thursday, August 19, 2004

From today's garbage mail

Hi Marion,

I haven't heard from you in awhile just wanted to catch up.
What are you doing now? How's work going? I've been really busy
lately, haven't really had much time to do anything. My job has
me working like 60 hours a week, travelling all over the world.
Well I gotta run, just hit me up when you get a chance.

Amie Marion

BTW...I tried this product from India and it really works.
Believe me you gotta try it. You'll thank me and your wife will
love you for it.

What is our spammer doing here.
First, this is a "wrong address" mail. It pretends to be accidentally sent to you. This is a school of spam writing well known from "teen-age girls" sending out pictures of "themselves" with invitations to see more at their "private place." For some reason this type of errors are very common in dorms where there are webcams and a lot of lesbians.

Second, the sender appears to be male and casual. This is a man-to-man message, short, to the point and unsentimental. As we know men never chitchat or send each other useless hints, ideas or advice, anything we can learn from this mail will be useful. But we only learn casual, boring normal things from the main body of the email. Our spammer wants us to believe this is a genuine misdirected mail. This approach is a lot more believable than the teen-age-slut-dorm-webcam error. The writing is better and the logic is better.

Third: this email sends off "I am important" vibes. The fictional Amie Marion travels all over the world and works 60 hours a week. He is indispensable, active, has endless energy and manages to satisfy his wife. Every man should want to be him.

Fourth, the clever move: The point we are supposed to be interested in following up is tucked into a PS. This is reverse psychology. If it was on top, this mail would read like your average spam mail or billboard. A man does not write a man to tell him how to improve his stamina. Men give each other that kind of hints as an aside (according to the logic of this mail), a casual question attached to the end of the conversation (by the way and apropos of plumbing, how come your wife is so cheery these days?) This is done to further keep up the illusion of a casual letter sent to the wrong email box.

The approach is clever, but it all hinges on one thing: that people want to open the mail and read a letter to somebody else. It can, of course, have as the main audience everybody named Marion, but most important, it appeals to the human curiosity and gullibility through nosyness. I did not click though. But then much as I might like one, I don't have a wife.

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