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How to Detect Spam When Your Spam Filter Cannot

Posted Nov 25, 2015 by Mathieu Chiasson


We all get spam emails which goes through our spam filters and make it to our inbox. Sometimes these are cleverly crafted messages which are hard to detect the validity even by a smart human like you.

A friend of mine asked me to look at the following message and tell him if it was spam.

I changed the name and profession of my friend to Mario the plumber.

From: Richard Compton
Date:11-25-2015 6:55 AM (GMT-04:00)
To: Mario
Subject: Plumbers (11/25/2015)

Our company controls a mostly US/Canadian online platform comprised of
over 40 million subscribers. The technology that we use allows us
the ability to show our people a best, preferred choice when
they are looking on any of the main search engines.

We are looking for a best, preferred choice to send our people
who are looking for plumbers in various markets.

I am in the office weekdays from 8:00AM to 5:00PM Pacific time.

Best regards,

Richard Compton
Network Placement Representative, SPN
(877) 461.0607,   Ext. 96

If you don't ask yourself the right questions when reading this message it could look genuine. But the number one rule is to look for ambiguity. Don't fall for technical terms you don't understand. If you don't understand them, this message is not for you. A good company or person will try to be understood, not leave you in the dark.

So lets look at some part of this message.

Our company ... What company? Right there, you should stop reading. Someone who doesn't want to say who he's working for is not trustworthy.

a mostly US/Canadian online platform ... do you understand that? I don't and I'm working in the Web world. People who tries to put you in the dark using abstract concepts are not trustworthy.

The technology that we use ... again, what technology? We're still in the dark here. Not trustworthy.

to show our people ... what people? His uncle and aunts? His imaginary friends? I don't know. Don't trust people who don't disclose who he's working for or with.

looking on any of the main search engines. ... looking for what? What main search engines? Why does his 40 millions imaginary friends are searching on main search engines? WTF!?!? Sorry for the language but this is beyond non-sense stuff. Even the Beattles couldn't come up with such abstract lyrics.

I'm not done yet...

Here comes his selling point!

We're looking for a best ... Mario you're the best and they know it! Even though you've never heard of mister Richard from his unknown company, he's been looking around at all the plumbers and YOU'RE the best!

send our people ... such ownership of HIS people. They have to be imaginary friends.

looking for plumbers in various markets. ... what markets? Again this makes no sense at all.

The icing on the cake...

I am in the office weekdays from 8:00AM to 5:00PM Pacific time. ... That sounds very human like. The only problem is he send his message at 6:55 AM (GMT-04:00) ... that's 2:55AM Pacific Time. Richard probably sent this message after partying with his 40 million imaginary friends. He's such a dedicated worker. Mario's the best plumber, he had to email him right then, in the middle of the night.

Finally

His email signature again offers absolutely no indication about who he works for. There's the acronym SPN but try to find anything on that. In Canada, it's the Slow-Pitch National, I doubt they can help Mario the plumber.

Bottom line

Even if Richard is a real person trying to do real business with you. Would you want to do business with someone who keeps you in the dark and tries to fool you into buying his service?

You're smart and only deal with genuine trustworthy people.

You don't like to be kept in the dark. And you know better than to believe in fairy tales about miracle solutions to abstract concepts.

Let abstraction stay in the wonderful world of art.

I'd like to be under the sea In an octopus' garden in the shade He'd let us in, knows where we've been In his octopus' garden in the shade

I'd ask my friends to come and see An octopus' garden with me I'd like to be under the sea In an octopus' garden in the shade.

We would be warm below the storm In our little hideaway beneath the waves Resting our head on the sea bed In an octopus' garden near a cave

We would sing and dance around Because we know we can't be found I'd like to be under the sea In an octopus' garden in the shade

We would shout and swim about The coral that lies beneath the waves (Lies beneath the ocean waves) Oh what joy for every girl and boy Knowing they're happy and they're safe (Happy and they're safe)

We would be so happy you and me No one there to tell us what to do I'd like to be under the sea In an octopus' garden with you.

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