Every time I mention spam to Jennifer (my wife) in relation to her inbox, she says she doesn’t care about it, that it doesn’t bother her. She doesn’t even delete spam. What gets past GMail’s (excellent) spam filter just sits in her inbox, and some of it, I am sure, has been there since she opened her account.

The other day, I was reading about 419 scams. You know, those Nigerian
“I have some money I need to get out of the country so if you give me your bank account number I will put it in your account and you can keep some” emails. I read that the basic premise behind the scam existed in the sixteenth century, and went to tell my wife this. I was halfway through explaining what a Nigerian 419 scam was when she interrupted me and told me, “Those are real, you know”.

Since Jennifer is by no means stupid or entirely new to the internet, I will assume that there are other people out there who believe that these are real too. So, as a public service announcement, here is a list of things to keep in mind when you check your email.

  • No one wants you to help them smuggle money out of their country. They want to smuggle money out of your bank account.
  • You didn’t win a lottery. Especially if you didn’t enter.
  • Your bank/eBay/PayPal is not about to update it’s records and delete your account.
  • If you can’t get it up, see a doctor. Get real Viagra rather than /|4grA. It is safer and LEGAL. (Is that hard-on worth prison time?)
  • Never enter a password or credit card number in an email, or a page an email takes you to. If you really believe that email is from Paypal, go to (type it in, don’t follow a link) and see what is up.
  • And NEVER click the “unsubscribe” link in a spam you didn’t request. This just shows your address works and makes them send you more spam.

Spammers are bastards, but the people who keep them in business aren’t much better.

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