Lately, a goodly proportion of the spam email that has been darkening my inboxes is of the annoying “stock tip” variety. The amount of questions about this spam from site visitors indicates that I am certainly not the only one getting inundated with this irritating trash.
The messages usually contain a “tip” advising investors to buy stock in a particular company as soon as possible in order to gain good returns. The messages arrive in a variety of formats and target a number of companies.
Unlike most other kinds of spam, stock spam generally does not include a link back to the spammer’s website and many have wondered what the spammer hopes to gain by posting it. Basically, the purpose of this spam is to influence the stock price of the targeted company so that the spammer can make a quick profit on his or her shares. There are various angles on the ruse, but the primary goal is to get a lot of extra investors to trade on the specified company thus altering the price of stock in a way favourable to the spammer. Although it may seem doubtful that such a scheme would actually work, reports indicate that stock spam campaigns can indeed reap profits for the spammer.
Much of this spam arrives with very weird, off-topic subject lines and the actual “tip” may be an image embedded within paragraphs of random text (see example below). The use of images along with the strange subject lines and random text are intended to trick spam filters into letting the message go through. Spam filters are often configured to detect messages that contain certain words, phrases or ways of structuring sentences that are commonly indicative of spam. If these indicators add up to a significant percentage of the message, the filter will block the message as spam. By including the spam “payload” in an image that cannot be “read” by the filter and adding random text, the messages can sneak through without being flagged as spam.
Like other kinds of spam, there is no easy remedy for unsolicited stock email. It might be tempting to complain to the company named in the message. However according to an article on Spamnation.info, the targeted companies are rarely the ones responsible for the messages and “most stock spams are sent by third-party speculators”. Advanced spam filtering techniques may be helpful, although, as noted above, the spammers use various dirty tricks to avoid filters. If filtering is ineffective, hitting your “Delete” key may ultimately be the most effective option. At least “Delete” never fails.
Of course, the hidden culprits are those investors who actually act on the information in the spam emails. As with all kinds of spam, if you buy from spammers you are making the problem worse for all Internet users and are almost as culpable as the spammers themselves. If nobody bought from spammers, the problem would soon evaporate. In any case, Spamnation notes that making investments based on stock spam is unlikely to be worthwhile.
A typical stock spam email:
Subject: Tales Rat FinkThe
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Chelsea’s Michael Essien, and in captain Stephen Appiah they had a player whoOnly four men have scored three goals in World Cup final matches – Geoff Hurstshowing by some obliging apologists – but he does not start his new career covered in glory. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites The network will deliver production IP capabilities and new dynamic optical services.been an inspirational leader of a Liverpool team containing less natural talent than
Importance NoticeAfter 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 YouI 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 DateHoax-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!