Forward Emails Responsibly and Help Fight Spam

We complain a lot about Spam Emails. We are often deceived and often confused with spam. When I started living online, I have even replied to a spam email that said I won $60,000 in an online lottery that I didn’t even know about. I guess many of us are still confused with such emails and it’s our ignorance that spammers exploit. Did you know that you were helping spammers a lot? I know you would not agree, but here is something that might convince you.

My 12 year old daughter is a heart patient and needs $12k for an open heart surgery. Thankfully AOL and Gmail have agreed to give me 0.5 cents per recipient of this email. So please save my daughter and help me by forwarding this email to all your contacts.

Stop SpamMost of us would have received something similar from some of our friends. Many of us doubt its credibility, yet we forward since we don’t want the girl to die because of us. I got one last week and that’s what inspired me to write this up. If you have ever forwarded something like this, you have been spamming! Here is how it works…

  • The email that you initially received has a lot of email address attached to it. These are the email addresses of those people to whom it was forwarded before it reached you.
  • You send the email to all of your friends, and all your friends forward them to their own friends.
  • So after some time the original email will have thousands of email addresses attached to it.
  • Somehow the email will reach the hands of an email harvester or a spammer. Either they will be there in some of our contacts or they will be subscribed to groups or subscription lists. Someone is definitely going to forward it to a group or a list.
  • The harvester extracts the email addresses using software (there are email harvesting softwares too!) and sell the email addresses to spammers. Say $1 for 10,000 legitimate email addresses, that’s not hard to get.
  • Once the spammer has the email addresses he sends out spam emails. He can easily sent it out to one million or 10 million recipients in one click!
  • Even if only 0.01% of the recipients trust the spam mail and respond, he still has 1000 customers for his products. That’s a whole lot of sales and lots of money. But mostly those who spend money on such emails are cheated.
  • So you cheated a 1000 people without even knowing it!

Does that mean that you should never forward emails?

No. But before you forward, understand that…

  • You will not win $50k without actually purchasing a lottery. Who will give you that kind of money?
  • Microsoft or Sony Ericsson never gives out free laptops or Mobile phones for forwarding emails.
  • Bill Gates is never sharing his fortune with some email spammers.
  • A heart surgery doesn’t cost $12k and AOL is not going to track all your emails and give that guy 0.5 cents per email.
  • Gmail is never going to delete your account because it is over capacity. If Google becomes over capacity there is nowhere else in this world where you can be!
  • Read the best forward I ever received to get an idea of the blunders we make.
  • Read what Quakeboy did with such spam, awesome read!
  • Don’t believe in all the forwards, most of them are pure scam. Here is the Ultimate Myth-Buster of e-mail Forwards.

Safe Practices to Fight Email Spam

  • Forward only those emails that you are very sure about. Else you are staking your friends and your own safety.
  • Before you forward an email, DELETE the email addresses that precede the content of the mail.
  • Add your friends email addresses only to the BCC field. BCC means Blind Carbon Copy i.e. the recipient will not be able to know who else received the email.
  • Create private groups in yahoo and google and send the forwards to those groups. Tell your friends who would love to receive forwards to sign-up. And approve only known members!
  • Never respond to spam, or follow the links that they send you. Don’t even open the emails in the spam folder.

Now the next time I receive such a spam email, I am gonna send them a copy of this post or a link to this one. Do the same and save your and your friends email from the hands of dirty spammers.

Hey! Thanks for reading. If you found it useful, please share it with your friends as well. They will thank you for it.

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28 Comments.

  1. Amal Roy says:

    Very Nice information. I too received such mails a lot. Do you remember when i asked you a doubt with a spam mail.

    ” A Bank Manager from Ghana want to transfer 50000$ without informing the officials. He asked me to transfer to my account and then to the account he says and he will give me 30% of that!. ”

    The mail was in a way that it would convince a first timer for sure.

    Good to see a nice article again.

    • Yeah, I do remember, infact you sent me a copy of that mail. There are lots of such hoax mails. You realized with your first email, the sad thing is that many people still dont realize that its fake. Sorry for them.

      🙂

  2. Sriraj says:

    Well said Arun !!
    Now since you’ve taken the example of a ‘heart surgery’, I remember another common mail that we often get, ‘This mail came directly from drishti ganapati,forward this email/SMS to atleast 50 people or ganapati will curse you’.Rubbish.
    One more thing, not related to the post, I saw a post by you mentioning a website which you use to get your post images. I tried searching your site but couldn’t find it. Could you name it here?

    • Yeah, I used to see such mails too. Forward this to 10 friends of yours and your love will come true, else it will fail. Total Crap.

      You can find that post on images here. Next time you get stuck like this, try the archives, all posts are listed there.. 🙂

  3. Alok says:

    I have also received such type of fake mails but thanks God it always come to my spam folders. I think only new internet user are affected by these mails.
    Thanks Arun for starting such type of good awareness about safety.

  4. sudha says:

    I get lot of spam mails Arun saying you have won some huge amount.your mail address has been short listed for a grand prize etc…and I wonder how come these spammers think that people would respond to these mails may be some fools respond I guess..but thankfully most of these mails goes to the spam folder only..Thanks to yahoo spam filter and this is a lot of info Arun!!! I did not know about the BCC thing..thanx for sharing 🙂

    • Yeah, the SPAM filters of Gmail and Yahoo are awesome, and the spammers are giving them a hard time…
      Mostly newbies are the one who are cheated with such hoax and there are lots of newbies out there… 🙁
      Anyway, you are safe now.. lol 🙂

  5. Quakeboy says:

    Good post Arun, this will help a lot of people.. we must find some way to reach this to a whole lot of non-techie newbie net users also.. then a lot of problems are solved !

    This is what I did when I received a spam mails.. link

    • hey, Thanks for sharing that link, really really appreciate that. As you have said there, Spammers are wasting a lot of time, both of the users and of Google and Yahoo mail. Read the cost of Spam article on Wikipedia. In 2004 in US alone it costs Users a worth of $21.58 billion! Think of the lives that could be bettered with that money!

      I have added your article to the post 🙂

      • Quakeboy says:

        Hey wow.. thanx a lot buddy.. nice to hear when someone likes your personal post.
        And that is really a LOT of money.. I need to research on this more.. as emails usually have originating ip addresses on them.. maybe some countries dont have spam laws.. similar to case of thepiratebay(dot)com

        • Ah, I have read about thepiratebay on a local newspaper suppliment long time back.
          IMHO, blogging is a lot about intimacy and personality. If you need some real facts why read a blog, turn to google! I read blogs mainly to find the view of the author, ofcouse in things that interest me.. 🙂

  6. jagan says:

    awesome, bloody spammers should not be allowed to do that.there is need to spread the awareness about that

  7. George says:

    I also used to receive such mails either in names of Gods,charity or free give aways.Shift+Delete is my answer to such mails.But unfortunately if you track the trailing addresses it is funny to see biggies from major organizations will be available.

  8. Nihar says:

    Even i have received lots of emails. But, haven’t forwarded it. You must have definitely received those emails regd GOD. If you want Lord Ganesha to be happy email to atleast 50 friends in another 10 mnts. LOL

    Nice post.

    • LOL, as if Lord Ganesha is browsing the web with a broad band connection in heaven. lol
      Sadly there are many who forward such emails, even some of my friends do that.. This post has opened the eyes of some of them, so it has been a success 🙂

  9. Amandayno says:

    Hi, thanks for the interesting article. What about SMS? I get SMS that asks to forward as many as possible so that they could earn few cents for each forwarded SMS?

    • Yeah, these days we get SPAM sms too. But SMS dont create much problem for the users, since the senders number is not added to the list as in emails. I am told that the reason why they sent SPAM sms is to jam the networks. Once it gets viral, it can flow at the rate of thousands of SMS per minute and the networks will get hung.

      Evil people! Stop them. No one gets anything by forwarding emails or SMS, if someone has to earn, he has to work hard 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  10. Laszlo Csaba says:

    Arun,

    Congrats for your site!

    I agree with all what you wrote about responsible e-mailing. Actually, I forward very few things, and in most of the cases, I delete the accumulated address list from the message body.
    From the very beginning, i consider any letter that requests to be forwarded and nothing else, with no real contacts given – such as tel/fax number, address, thorough presentation of the case – a hoax.
    However, if there is a minor probability that the presented case is real, I used to investigate 🙂 Until now, in only one of this kind of investigations, I discovered that it was a real claim for help! But even in that case, the initial problem was solved couple of weeks, or even a month ago. These kind of e-mail are moving forward for years, nobody stops them.

    Today I received a “100% hoax”, but I wanted to check. The cover story: “the foundation wich support my operation gets 0.01 cent from Yahoo & AOL” for each e-mail sent”. I spent hours to contact Yahoo to get an official answer regarding this matter. I even asked this on Yahoo Answers, but no useful answer until now.

    • I really appreciate that you take the time to investigate. If I get an email without proper details, I simply ignore it. I take the policy “If they cant take the time to mention their details in full, why bother replying..? “. But since it conflicts with another policy ” To reply all emails” i would send something in reply if its not in my spam folder.

      No one but spammers earn by forwarding emails, Sad that they are costing the world a lot of money. Evil spammers.

      Thanks for dropping in!
      Cheers…

      • Laszlo Csaba says:

        Arun,

        There was one more thing in my letter at the end, probably didn’t capture your attention: the cover story mentioned in that hoax letter, was a typical one, known by me and others for years. BUT I didn’t succeed to contact Yahoo to get some official answer regarding this kind of sponsorizations. They have a “Help” site, “Report abuse” site etc, but no living person to talk with .. or some e-mail address, other than those for “Important Press people” ..

        Let me ask once again:

        1. Is there such a thing: to get paid by Yahoo and/or AOL, for some sent e-mails?
        2. I know it sounds crazy, but if somebody like me is trying hard to obtain this little piece of information and did not receive an onest NO in some official way, what are we expecting from the wide majority?

        So: a clue is needed. What to do and how to obtain these kind of informations from Yahoo & AOL, wich (I know very well) do not sponsorise no foundations or individuals in this way; from Siemens and Nokia, who will never give you cellphones for a number of forwarded sms-es; from Bill Gates himself, who has no intention to give you n x 10.000 USD for your forwarded e-mails etc.

        I know you can’t combat this way all the species of hoax, but a website containing a collection of answers would be great! I’m allways trying to stop nearby people to act fullish when they receive chain letters, but only with a “limited” success.

        • Hey,

          I thought I had answered that before, sorry for the delay, was kinda away.

          1. No way, there is not way some one gets paid by Yahoo or AOL, if there was some, would people go to work..? And such news would be greatly discussed online, nothing as of now. So no luck

          2. You can take it for granted. If there is something like that, the popular blogs would be discussing it already. See, if there was anything like that, people would be heavily searching for it. And the big sites would really love to trap the Search traffic, so it would be there anyway.. 🙂

          Simple logic, I think its fair.. 🙂

        • I guess you are clear with your question now, here is a post that might help you furthur: The Ultimate Myth-Buster of Email Forwards. Badiom-ka-Baap 🙂

  11. mike tyson says:

    The PirateBay said:
    were going to do a video streaming site. Its true. Its in the works being done right now and as usual we put a bit of Pirate Bay mentality behind every project we do.

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