The New York Times agrees. According to their ethicist, unless the email seems like an emergency or other very important piece of communication, I'm not ethically obligated to reply. This must happen a lot — especially to people with relatively common email addresses. Does this happen to you? How would you handle it?
Have you ever wanted to reply to a spammer, not to ask him how his life came to this or did he think that this is what he would be when he grew up, but just to taunt him? A writer for the Boston Globe did just that; when a spammer emailed him, promising him 20 percent of some fake company's profits for just the exchange of his bank account numbers (what a deal!), he decided to have fun with spam.
He emailed the spammer back, playing along for a bit, and got into a pretty funny volley, with gems from the spammer like, "In my last email i ask you to provide me your credit card number and the limit. instead you asking of my own. PLEASE MAIL ME THE DETAILS SO AS TO START BUSINESS OKAY." Basically, it seems as if he drives the spammers insane. Read his story for more vicarious tech payback!
As much as spam emails totally suck when they make their way to your inbox - especially ones like these - I can honestly say I was completely shocked when I read this story on USA Today.
A man from Colorado has been arrested for sending hundreds of thousands of spam e-mails. His sentence? Twenty-one months in prison plus having to pay nearly $715,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.
I've met the odd "professional spammer" in my day, and they seriously look like your average Joe that basically gets paid for sending mass emails for various companies. . . usually without even knowing or caring about what the email is about. What's different about this case is the serial spammer was creating emails to deceive stock investors and he actually achieved this. During his spamming stint, he ended up raking in over $3.5 million. Nuf said.
Just when I thought my tough and mighty Google gods would keep my Gmail account free from love struck spammers luring unsuspecting email users to visit malicious websites — what do I get in my email? Emails similar to the"ILOVEYOU" worm email, that infected ten percent of all computers connected to the Internet and caused around $5.5 billion in damages!
Ok, I'll fess up, the emails did arrive in my spam folder, fortunately, which was a giant red flag to begin with. But not all spam filters are this good, so be careful of what sneaks into your inbox and NEVER open anything that looks strange, let alone download attachments, etc. . . even if it says "I love you." Also, make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date and mark any suspicious emails as "spam" so that they go straight to your junk box next time. Valentine's Day is when a majority of these threatening emails get sent so please be cautious before opening anything that tells your gut something isn't adding up!