Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Charity spam" scams

I have to admit that I've taken to responding to the charity spam emails that I receive. You know, the ones in which some unfortunate sick man or woman -- who happens to be very wealthy but terminally ill, and happens to want to give away every penny of their money before they die, and has never met us -- knows we are just the one to help them despite the fact that they do not know our name or the first thing about us other than our email addresses.

I've taken this tack: I respond as if I take their claims seriously, as if I believe that they really are in such a situation. I suggest that, if they want to give their money to charity, it really might be more effective to contact a charity rather than to start mass-emailing complete strangers. And I wish them the best in their efforts to be generous. If I were in law enforcement, I would set up an email account and a fake bank account and respond to every one of these, just to see who was on the other end of the line.

What do you all do with your charity spam scams? I used to just use the 'delete' button or the 'report spam' button, but I'm fairly sure that the 'report spam' button has the same effect as the 'delete' button but is just labeled differently. I'm increasingly wanting to make a point to the actual human beings behind these scams. I'm not suggesting a counter-spam campaign -- that we all reply to each of these emails and have them sort through thousands of meaningless emails per day to give them a taste of their own medicine, as entertaining as that might be. But when it's obvious that a financial predator and liar is in my mailbox, I'm less and less willing to overlook that fact or accept the status quo and let fraudsters go unchallenged.

I wonder: what's our best Christian response?


ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I'm catching up after an absence. Your question is interesting and unexpected. I just delete, but my inclination to almost everything is to respond.
But there isn't enough time to respond to everything. I can't help but wonder what motivates some of these people. Even the cold calling phone solicitations are a puzzle. I kept getting one such call, and I alway hung up. Finally, I thought if I stayed on the line, maybe there would be someting at the end that would get me off the list. When I finally pressed 1, I got put on hold.

Tony-Allen said...

You give a much more Christian response than I do. I usually tell them I've contacted the FBI.

Weekend Fisher said...

I know someone who, whenever a salesman calls, keeps them on the line as long as possible but never buys anything. (No, not a Christian doing that.)

I have to admit to a certain amount of glee at the thought of a spammer sending out a million emails a day expecting replies from only the 3 most gullible people on the internet, and instead finding a million replies and can't find his 3 gullible folks in the pile. I wouldn't do that to a legitimate business who is just sending unwanted ads, but someone like my spammer this morning who is committing fraud -- c'mon now. If the ISP's won't /can't stop it and the government won't / can't stop it, and the price of our stopping it is to send an email ... y'know.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF