Your In Box Is Full

The message has been in my email inbox daily for the past month, but I’ve never read it. It has been marked as “spam,” and I’ve been deleting it unread.

Supposedly my Craigslist inbox is full. I presume if I open the email there will be instructions on how to deal with that, either by clicking on a link or opening an attachment. No matter which I am sure the result would be a virus or malware infection on my computer.

I do like to know what the latest online scam is. I am curious as to the psychology of the scammers and their victims. What drives someone to become a con artist? What filters are lacking that so many people are taken in so easily?

In my case this particular scam is not likely to provoke response. I really would be curious as to who is sending me so many messages on Craigslist that there is no more room in my inbox – if I had an account with Craigslist.

Which is many ways is one of the scammers’ biggest problems. They are sending out thousands of messages at once, in the hopes of attracting the occasional sucker. It works too. And the cost is negligible (though acquiring the email addresses may have some cost attached to it). But most people ignore the missives. After all, not only do I not have a Craigslist account, I don’t have one for most of the banks that have supposedly contacted me to tell me my account has been compromised. I need to click on the link and re-enter my information to access my account.

If I actually have a relationship with the bank in question I report the email to their security department. Mostly though I just delete them. If there really is a problem with my account, the bank has my phone number. And there is a branch across the street, which is probably the safest way to deal with them.

In direct mail, a one to three per cent return rate is considered exceptional – ask any politician about the responses they get to their mailings. The scammers would probably be quite happy with a similar response. I’d be kind of curious as to what the rate actually is and how much money they are making, but somehow I doubt that figure is easily available, given that their activities are less than legal.

What would make the appeals much more dangerous would be if the scammers dropped the wholesale approach. Instead of sending out messages in bulk, leading them to be deposited in people’s spam folders, imagine if they were sent individually and came as regular email. I would think a lot more people would be fooled into doing something they shouldn’t.

But to do it that way would require more work. Fortunately the guys behind these schemes seem to prefer taking the easy way out.

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