I was eager to get into the book Inside the Spam Cartel, written by "SpammerX". My eagerness persisted only into the second chapter—the self-professed spammer is coy in his presentation of examples, leaves out more information than he gives, and (by far the worst sin) seems unable to mate subject and verb number, use apostrophes or adverbs rationally, or spot abject incoherence in his own writing.
Aside from that, the book is intriguing in a creepy way.
The topic is one every Internet user will find interesting, and SpammerX delivers a lot of detail about the process, purpose and payback of spamming. He has been somewhat careful about removing actual IP and eMail addresses and user names, although this, like all his proof-reading, is not thorough. He includes a number of examples of using HTML tags to encode spam messages that will slide through spam filters, while telling us his philosophy of spam. This philosophy boils down to: "I can do it, and you can't stop me, so it's all right. Besides, I get paid to do it."
Even so, SpammerX is aware how his activities are viewed by others. Some chapters seem to be an effort to excuse his actions, others are almost apologetic. He will carefully spell out how to "hijack" a Web page for spamming purposes, as if to provide useful information for the IT crew of that site. Then he will add in one of his Notes from the Underground, "I think I will keep this bit secret in case I want to use it again...".
The book's theme wavers back and forth between these two extremes, as if the author doesn't really want to give up his behavior (as long as he's getting away with it), but does want to be respected as an expert who offers help. He extends that help to would-be spammers and those who oppose their efforts with equal detail.
I found most interesting the chapter detailing phishing and eMail scams, including the "419 scam". You probably have encountered the 419 scam as the Nigerian Finance Minister scheme: an eMail promises you part of a multi-million-dollar sum for your assistance in setting up a bank account to move the funds into from overseas. The scam gets its name, according to SpammerX, from the code 419 for Fraud in Nigeria, the source of more than half of all such scams.