Strange spam

Over the last couple of months I’ve had a series of curious unsolicited emails.  Superficially, they don’t look like ‘spam’, but they do follow a pattern.  Here’s a typical one:

‘From petrov.gazprom@gmail.com

What is country code for usa if dialing from europe?
I need a little help/direction before I can start. Any nuggets of wisdom would be absolutely great and very much appreciated. Please point me in the right direction.

Thankyou. Warmest Regards, James’

 

It’s polite if a little naive in its wording, and since it would be very simple to send off an email with the answer (‘1’), it’s tempting to do so.  But Mr Gazprom appears to be a prolific emailer.  Adam Kuban, who blogs about pizzas and hamburgers in New York, had a whole series of emails from that address, signed off with a whole range of different names, and with different queries.  He’d also had one from WinstonFinancial (I got one from them as well) asking ‘how much does a catering cost?’   Catering for a birthday party, or a wedding, or a conference of psychics?

All these come from gmail addresses and follow a common style even though the wording varies considerably.  I assume that these are being sent out to ‘harvest’ active email addresses – if you reply you’ll confirm that your email works and your address will become more valuable to people sending [other sorts of] spam.

So if you get one of these, please don’t reply.  But I’m also intrigued as to how these messages are constructed – whether somebody actually writes them, or whether there’s a programme that can generate loads of these with enough variation that they avoid spam filters.

Update (20 August) – this is now explained at http://www.spamhaus.org/sbl/sbl.lasso?query=SBL77368

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One Response to “Strange spam”

  1. a webmaster Says:

    I too have received these emails. Unfortunately I responded to the first one I got because it seemed to come from a real reader in need of advice. Then I started receiving more similar emails, and I realized I had been spammed.

    Then I did a Google search using the words of my response to that first email, and discovered that it had been published on a website. The site has Adsense ads on it. It’s a spoof website that has been made to look like Yahoo Answers.

    If you have responded to any of these emails, search Google using the words of your reply. If you find that it’s been published on a website, complain to Google and/or Adsense!! Email content is copyrighted! Maybe together we can get this site taken down or at least banned from Adsense.

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