Home Spam Reports Spammer’s Trick – Past and Future Dates on Email

Spammer’s Trick – Past and Future Dates on Email

by Brett M. Christensen

Spammers will use any means at their disposal to get you to notice the garbage they inflict on your inbox. One dirty trick that seems to be increasingly employed by spammers is to change the date on incoming emails so that they are more likely to gain your attention when they cross your inbox.

Most commonly, the spam arrives with a future date – sometimes months or even years ahead. If you have your email client configured to sort by date, this future date means that the spam message will “float” at the bottom (or top) of the list of emails. The message will remain in this pole position until you move or delete it or until the real date overtakes the spammer’s bogus date. 

Conversely, the spammer may set a date sometime in the past, thereby burying the spam at the “read” end of the email list or somewhere in the middle. Generally, your email client will indicate that you have an unread message somewhere in the email folder you are reading, even after you have apparently read all of the latest messages. If the folder has a lot of messages, you will need to search through the list of read emails to locate the unread one with the bogus past date. This process tends to focus attention on the garbage email, and this is, of course, the spammer’s goal.

The spammers want to increase the chance that their targets will actually read the message. Hopefully, most of us will be wise enough to never do business with spammers under any circumstances. However, the spammer may send many millions of bogus-date spam messages. Perhaps only a handful of these recipients will be swayed into actually buying from the spammer due to the past or future date trick. From the spammer’s point of view, gaining those few extra sales is enough to make the bogus-date trick a worthwhile exercise.

Spam is an increasingly severe problem with no easy remedy. One simple way we can help, however, is to learn as much as possible about how spammers operate. Being aware of all their dirty little tricks, and spreading the word to other Internet users, is something that we can all do to make it just that bit harder for spammers to make a profit.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer