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Why You Receive So Much Junk Email

Wired.com
Mark Edwards
30-03-2005

Have you ever wondered why your inbox is filled with junk emails? The simple answer is that sending spam email pays. Even though a vanishingly small percentage of people respond to these emails if you are sending them by the millions that may be enough. In some cases it is more than enough to keep the spammers sending the junk mail over and over whilst aggressively harvesting more email addresses.



The cost of sending the emails is virtually nothing as the cost of email is largely borne by you, the receiver, when you download it. Even the small cost of sending the email is quite often avoided as spammers use unsecured mail servers known as open mail relays to send their mass mailings. There are many of these open mail relays in China, thus, you will see a significant number of these junk emails coming from what appears to be a chinese domain.



A recent Wired News article published details of a security flaw in a spammer's website which allowed a web browser to view the orders placed for its herbal pen1s en1arging pi11s.



Staggeringly, the company had 6,000 orders for the pills at $US50 per bottle. Most orders were for 2 bottles. The total for 4 weeks was in excess of $500,000 US dollars!



Even more surprising, these orders were placed on a site with no phone number, mailing address or e-mail address for contacting the company. None of the people ordering seemed concerned that their order data, including their credit card info, addresses and phone numbers, were transmitted to the site without the encryption used by most legitimate online stores.



The people ordering this product were from all professions. There was even the manager of a $US6 billion mutual fund, who ordered two bottles of Pinacle to be shipped to his Park Avenue office in New York City. The business hidden well behind this website is owned by a 19 year old high-school dropout.



With this sort of return it is unlikely we will see a reduction in the number of junk emails we receive any time soon.

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