Spammers challenge slackers: find the angle

Wednesday 8 December 2004

Yeah, yeah, everyone gets weird spam from time to time, but lately they’ve been tending toward the incomprehensible, in word and intent. Am I too smart or too stupid to respond to whatever insane sales pitch they’re sending me?

Subject: there is a lot to be ahamed of

Alright! Don’t give me money or sex, promise me shame!

Subject: pain is killing me

Good. Carry on.

Subject: girlish ang ruttish fillies are holding back you!

Sexy come-on, or dire warning screamed by one of the characters from Zero Wing? To be fair, one of these spams provided me with the fantastic word ‘bulkhorsewoman’, which has got to be the only genre of Japanese fetish porn I have not yet become an avid collector of. But then I got this one, which takes the soft, pink, ham-in-aspic cake:

Subject: Warning huge ocean wave
qgnxv cphb hdmgxv
A huge 300 ft. high ocean wave is moving towards your continent. Your and many other cities are in a real danger. Approximate wave moving speed is 700 km/h.
hieih uqtw boylpt
Please read more about this catastrophe here:

We are strongly urging you to evacuate yourself and your family as soon as possible, even though you may live far away from your city. The tsunami will reach the continent in approximately FOUR hours.
jhnyf ibvp cdupir

This was sent to me on Sunday, and I didn’t check my mail until at least a day after I drowned. But what the hell is it trying to sell me? What genius thought up the “only give them four hours to buy our product, less the time it takes them to receive our spam, but first tell them to go far away from where they normally access the web” marketing strategy?
The website they advertise offers nothing but helpful expert advice about how to run away from a tsunami:

If you are near the ocean and you feel a large earthquake, you should go inland or to higher ground immediately. NEVER go to the coast to watch a tsunami. A tsunami moves faster than a person can run.

Gosh, thanks for that! Remember, counter-intuitive as it may seem, never, ever, run towards a tsunami. If this seems hard to grasp, here’s a picture to help:

The site also gives soothing reassurances…

It may take hours for waves to reach coastal South Australia coast, and there is a Tsunami Warning and Alerting Plan in place to pass the warning to coastal residents as quickly as possible.

…only to cruelly crush them in the next paragraph.

If a tsunami were to be generated close to South Australia coast, waves could reach shore within a few minutes and there would not be enough time for officials to issue a warning.

Weirdly, the text seems to be lifted from an honest-to-god government website. Although it keeps referring to a threat to the South Australian coast (and helpfully includes a map of South Australia which inadvertently shows that there is no way a tsunami could inundate Adelaide) it keeps making references to British Columbia and is obviously lifted from some Canadian government information page about the importance of not being near the sea when there’s a tusnami. There are even fake official-looking icons on the page suggesting that this is all somehow official, including this one below. It’s small, but you can just make out the moose flanking the British Columbia coat of arms. Now I can’t get to sleep because my head is buzzing with the one question: why? why? why?