- Two out of three “spam” e-mail messages contain false information of some sort, according to an analysis of unsolicited e-mail pitches collected by the FTC.
Of a random sample of 1,000 spam messages, 44 percent used a false return address to hide the sender’s identity, or a misleading subject line such as “re: lunch tomorrow” to trick the recipient into opening it, the FTC found.
Once opened, nearly as many of those messages contained come-ons that were likely to be false, the FTC said, basing its judgment on its experience prosecuting fraudulent business practices. A full 96 percent of spam touting business or investment opportunities such as work-at-home offers was deemed to be fraudulent.
Altogether, 66 percent of the spam surveyed likely violated federal law through some sort of deceptive business practice, said Eileen Harrington, an associate director at the FTC.
“Spam is a big fraud problem and one that needs an aggressive law-enforcement response,” said Harrington.
The volume of unsolicited, unwanted commercial e-mail has skyrocketed over the past two years, according to most estimates, and commercial Internet providers say they now spend millions of dollars each year fighting the problem.
….Virginia became the 27th state to enact an anti-spam law on Tuesday when Governor Mark Warner signed a bill that prohibits bulk e-mailers from hiding their return addresses or other routing information. Those caught violating the law would face a prison term of one to five years as well as fines.
While many other state laws require commercial e-mail to carry an “ADV:” tag in the subject line, only 2 percent of the spam surveyed contained such a tag, the FTC report found.
Congress has not yet passed a national anti-spam law, but observers say the odds are better now that direct marketers have dropped their opposition. [Reuters]