I've been selected! Humbug!

Honestly, I do feel the Christmas spirit . . . but before we get too happy and festive, I need to rant. I recently received the following:

From:MLMReview's #1 TOP NEWCOMER!!Join Now FREE!!!


Subject: *WATCH!! 2min FLaSH MoVIE Presentation!!"IT WILL BLOW U AWAY!!"

This is Not SPAM!

You were selected from a list of opportunity seekers. This is your last chance to take advantage of this offer. No additional mailing will come to this address.



Now I, like you, get lots of junk snail mail. Most of it is eminently ignorable and usually after a glance (and sometimes before the glance) it goes into the recycle bin or fireplace, whichever is closer. What I have noticed though is an increasing number of pieces of direct mail (the industry name for junk mail) designed to trick me, and that makes me mad.

"URGENT! Time sensitive material" and "To be opened only by the addressee according to USPS blah-blah-blah . . ." are a few of the exhortations these pieces use to make me read the lame, cheesy pitches inside.

What do these bozos think I'll do? "Jeez! Looks like it's a letter from the IRS, I'd better open it quick! . . . Would you look at that! It's not from the IRS after all! This company says I can subscribe to a series of badly printed books on cheap paper at a cost roughly four times what the books are worth, and they'll hound me with debt collectors if I should ever think of canceling. Well, thank heavens it wasn't the IRS, but 'cause it was such a neat way to trick me into opening it, I'll sign up today!"


It is sad that these morons sell enough junk this way to keep using the same tawdry tactics over and over. Now they've moved online! Sure, we've all received the kind of e-mail pitch like the one above, but whereas I used to see one of these pieces of junk every few days I now get several every day! Worse still, I often get the same messages on multiple addresses and some of those addresses could only have been acquired by trawling the Network World Web site with a spider.

The above piece (which you'll note is addressed to the Gearhead column) is from CooleBiz, which says on its home page: "CooleBiz has a unique mission -- to be the one-stop cool shop on the Web where marketers like yourself can find the easiest, fastest and coolest e-business solutions!" As far as I can make out, it looks as if it offers Web hosting along with some kind of MLM scheme.

As for its line about the message not being spam, I received a second piece at the same address with only slightly different wording! These charlatans are just modern snake oil salesmen masquerading as a real business. If they were real, they wouldn't have to resort to such pathetic ruses as spamming (and lying about spamming) to drum up business.

What concerns me is that more and more companies are spamming and assuming that, not only can they get away with it, they can also try to gain our attention and then our business with barefaced lies ("You were selected from a list of opportunity seekers").

I have started to chase these vermin down and report them to their ISPs whenever I can, and I hope you do the same. If we get nonchalant about this kind of junk e-mailing, it will become the norm. While I am all for people trying to make a buck, when they do so with such arrogance and lies they deserve to be hunted down and mercilessly harassed out of business.

Like I said, I do feel the Christmas spirit -- I'd love to roast the likes of CooleBiz over an open fire.

This story, "I've been selected! Humbug! " was originally published by Network World.

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