Herb-crusted tuna, with a piquant spam sauce

My institute’s main website displays the full email address of every single person in the building. As a result, our email filters are fighting a losing battle against an endless barrage of spam: mostly advertisements for certain classes of prescription drugs, and PIN phishing messages purportedly from banks.
This was an interesting exception: (click the image, then “All sizes” for a clearer view: sorry, any other sizes get all distorted when I insert them using either MT4 or Flickr).
herbal spam
I’m not sure whether we were a random victim, or targeted specifically as a cancer research institute, but either way I don’t think many of my colleagues will be making a purchase from these people.
I’ve set up my department’s new website differently; email addresses are displayed as “username [at] domain [dot] ca”. This approach does eliminate spam from the people who compile their mailing lists using automated web mining tools, but unfortunately it doesn’t eliminate other email irritants. I’m listed as the contact person for the website in general, and for certain job postings (we use different contact people on different adverts so we can get a sense of how people are finding us). This means that I attract more than my fair share of the idiocy.
Our email user name structure is first initial followed by surname, no dots, so I get lots of emails addressed to “Dear Cennis” (hint to job seekers: this is not the best way to highlight your “excellent eye for detail”, or your research skills in general for that matter). But the exchange below was much more original, and definitely the most entertaining spam so far:
tuna spam
No reply yet. I’ll keep you posted.
Seriously though, this is Marketing 101. Google brings up 24,000,000 hits for tuna, another 81,800,000 for recipe, and 121,000 for “tuna recipe”. And you’re targetting the cancer research websites?!
Ah well, at least it amused my colleagues.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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7 Responses to Herb-crusted tuna, with a piquant spam sauce

  1. Kausik Datta says:

    Cath, Cath, you ignored the first principle of Fighting Spam 101. Never, never, reply to a spam email. A lot of the times these emails are sent out by emailbots, and the moment you reply to one of these – even with a ‘Remove’ in the subject line – it confirms that you have a valid email address that you check. Your email address is then immediately sold out for further targeted spam.

  2. Cath Ennis says:

    This one was just too good to resist.
    Anyway, that publicly available email address is already on a bunch of lists. I just add spam email to the spam senders list as it arrives (well, after I waste the sender’s time a little bit)

  3. Kausik Datta says:

    Sorry about the unsolicited advice, Cath. I have been managing small networks and users for some time, as well as advising friends and family about safer ways to navigate the cyberworld. I felt a concern and the words just flowed out. Please don’t mind.

    after I waste the sender’s time a little bit

    That’s the thing. Oftentimes, there is no human sender of spam, just a bot, with endless time and patience (at least, until chip attrition gets it…)

  4. Cath Ennis says:

    Hmm, I thought I’d replied to that last comment not long after Kausik posted it, but apparently MT4 ate my homework.
    Anyway, I got another gem of an email today – an interview request from a journalist who wanted to talk to my boss about some of his research. Fair enough – quite normal around here, really. But the paper in question was not one of the ones I would have expected to arouse such interest. In fact I asked my boss to guess which one it might be, and he completely failed to imagine that it could possibly be:
    a paper on which he was 3rd author
    in 1999

  5. Laurie Parker says:

    ZOMG! I get those same Euroasias (or Euroasia’s depending on the day) spams! I have no idea how they got my work email, and no, I won’t be ordering chemotherapy drugs “for research only” from them, ever.

  6. Cath Ennis says:

    Hi Laurie, welcome!
    So maybe they are targeting research institutes… hmmm!

Comments are closed.