Over the years, a scary new form of junk email has evolved. What makes this type so alarming is there is no anti-spam protection to stop it.
This is a newer form of email spoofing, in which spammers disguise their emails to make it look like they are innocuous, valid messages from trusted sources. The primary concern, and the reason there is no anti-spam software to filter them, is that they are coming from the most trusted sources of all — our close family and friends. It is what I have deemed “friend spoofing.”
My inbox is chock full of messages from advertisers pretending to be friends and acquaintances. They disguise their ads behind colloquial, friendly subject headings to make us think it’s from someone we may know. When you open up the email, it is nothing but an advertisement for a mobile phone plan, hair growth cream, or stimulus pill. It is unfortunate, but it has become very common. Some have referred to this seedy form of advertisement as “brand spoofing.”
Some time ago, folks decided to take a page out of this deceitful book and engage in a reverse form of email campaign. For whatever reason, they started to use their trusted friendly name and email address to disguise advertisements, chain letters, and, most notably, very biased “anecdotes” that try to sway our political way of thinking.
For me, it all started sometime in the summer of 2004, as John Kerry and George W. Bush were vying for the White House. The email came from my father-in-law and it was addressed to most everyone in the family. I believe the subject heading was “Purple Hearted Liar.”
I opened it like every other email since it was from someone I knew and believed it to be something of interest. Little did I know I would be opening up Pandora’s Email Box. It was a series of photos and claims by a right wing veterans' group claiming Kerry had illegitimately earned his Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving as a swift boat commander in the Vietnam War.
Since it was such an outlandish claim that did not pertain to Kerry's qualifications for commander-in-chief, I laughed it off. But that one email opened the flood gates. Since that point, I have been bombarded with spam stating this and that about certain candidates for public office. They all share the same theme – a completely blown out of proportion, outlandish claim in the hopes that we’ll be so amazed we’ll forward the information right away to make sure everyone we know is fully aware of this astonishing, "truthful" news.