Column: Need your bank account and PIN


“THIS made Hitler cry”

Oy vey. An email showed up in my work spam filter with that subject line.

We get a good chuckle about some of the stuff that comes through from the approximately 200 emails most of us in the newsroom get in the average day.

“Are you about to go on a date with a criminal?”

“Unable to process your most recent Payment.”

“Cordless outdoor motion sensor.”

“Has your auto warranty expired.”

“Discount male enhancement” and “Demonstrate your love to her” and more vulgar versions.

There’s the usual butt load of emails offering discount Viagra and Cialis. A healthy majority of the spam emails are weighted toward the products and services devoted to losing pounds.

And there’s no lack of fake invoices for stuff never ordered, never purchased and certainly never received. But we’re just supposed to blindly pay them.

There’s pitches for photo retouching services. Sorry, don’t use ’em. The most we will do is fix red eye a few times a year in the odd photo.

The spam keeps coming.

I blame you.

They keep coming because enough people fall for them that it’s worthwhile for the spammers to continue.

This is an industry that has tapped into a key facet of the human psyche – curiosity.

What made Hitler cry? What do I owe on these invoices from companies I’ve never dealt with and statements from American banks I’ve never even heard of?

Okay, I’ve looked at a couple, that one about the Dutch furniture polish and one with a subject line about a community event (turned out to be a pitch from a Chinese plant that make sculptures), but none of the pervy ones and certainly never any links or attachments.

So far CASL has had no effect on the quantity or quality of the emails being snagged in my spam filters. I suspect it will be the same for most people because these (what’s the fashionable term this week for these scams/attempts/etc.) don’t originate in Canada and even those that do won’t likely worry too much about these laws. CASL came in recently, there are grace periods to allow for people to make changes and it would take years to prosecute, so they have a bit of time to continue deluging you and I.

Oh, how I sometimes long for the good old days when people had to put some effort into scamming you. These young pups with their technology need only buy a sucker list and create a form letter.

In my day, people had to have the courage to come to your door to pretend to be your grandchild and ask for money or claim to be canvassing for a charity created in their fertile imaginations but 10 minutes before they presented themselves in front of you.

And the Nigerian financial scams. People used to have to type up form letters, get them printed, search out addresses and pay for postage (one assumes, unless they were stealing it). Then the sob story would arrive and in other newsrooms of my past, we would regale each other with the sad tale, like the widow trying to unburden herself of the millions left by her dead husband through connections with the UN, some bank or a multinational firm.

So the lesson here is don’t open anything unless it’s clearly identified as being from someone you know… or me. I have a great plan to get my millions out of an international bank account and just need your name, address, bank account, and PIN number.

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