Saying "Yes" to Spam: One Woman's Experience
Below is the story of a spam masochist. Tracy Mooney agreed to answer all the spam sent her way for a month, just to see what happened. It was part of a research project by McAfee, to see what sort of spam was out there, and which parts of the world were hit by which bits of unwanted email. Participants got free computers in exchange for creating fake identites and agreeing to say "yes" to spam.
The idea of the Spammed Persistently All Month (S.P.A.M.) experiment — which fittingly started on April Fool's Day — was to have 50 volunteers from around the world answer every spam message and pop-up ad on their PC.
What would be the experience in 10 countries when everyday people, armed with a PC and e-mail account McAfee provided for the Global S.P.A.M. Diaries project, clicked through the spam and chronicled the results?
Each S.P.A.M. volunteer saw an average of 70 spam messages arrive in their in-box each day, with men receiving about 15 more per day than women. That was a lot to answer, but "Penelope Retch" — the alias that Mooney chose for her S.P.A.M. adventure — answered every single message.
The spammed life of Penelope Retch
In her guise as Penelope Retch, Mooney answered the e-mail that came into her account. "I'd see an interactive spam, open it, click on it and asked to be removed. That would only make it worse," she says. "They'd say 'no.'"
Mooney clicked through on the phishing e-mails for fake Wells Fargo and other bank sites, sat back as the supposed government of Nigeria sought to give her an inheritance, and watched a foreign IP address go after a dummy PayPal account that had been set up as part of the S.P.A.M. experiment.
According to McAfee, which selected five participants from each of 10 countries for the S.P.A.M. experiment, the five U.S. participants received the most spam: 23,233 messages over the course of the month.
(Thanks, Slashdot, for the heads-up)