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Unsolicited e-mail invading our computers


January 17, 2002

Since the computer on my desk in the Star Courier newsroom was hooked up to the Internet a few months ago, it has become a first-thing-in-the-morning ritual to remove from three to 20 unsolicited e-mails having nothing to do with news, not sent directly to anyone here at the newspaper, and always dealing with an easy way to borrow money or improve your sex life.

Some initial screens are quite graphic and I can see the concern of parents over Internet use by their children.

Simply by clicking on the icon which checks the e-mail folder, I regularly read, or even see ads and/or photos of a lewd nature.

Anyone who turns on a computer and knows how to check e-mail can be exposed to this material, whether they want to or not.

Most have a "click here" if you want to be removed from future mailings, but it's just one more step in the daily, time-consuming cleanup process and for every one you get removed, there's half a dozen new ones the next day.

I thought for awhile it was just something wrong with the way my computer was installed, until I read a recent article in the Quad City Times introducing me to a new meaning for the word spam.

Not the processed pork luncheon meat in a can most of us are used to, Internet spam is the "junk mail" of the world wide web.

Here's a snippet from the stack I've been printing out just in the past week:

- FREE MONEY That Goes To People JUST LIKE YOU!

- Wanna See Your Favorite Celebs Exposed? (They're not talking about uncovering rotten dealing by celebrities).

- Stop working for someone else!

- Received a Traffic Ticket You Thought Was Unjustified?

- Copy Any DVD Movie on CD-R!!! (I hope someone understands that. . . I don't!)

- Receive the Greatest Return on Your Marketing Dollar.

- Revolutionary home-based business that can make you over $5,000 in as little as 6 months.

- Your source for on-line gaming. . . The World's 1st Streaming Shockwave Casino!

- Double Your Life Insurance For FREE!

- Earn a Degree based on your Life Experience.

- Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an investigator?

Here's one I might try (just joking):

- NEW!! Find out ANYTHING about ANYONE with your PC! Claims software lets you find out about your friends, family, employer, enemies, anyone.

The interesting thing is that none of the e-mails are sent to the Star Courier's address.

The addresses are such things as victor@inw.net, Consumer@hotmail.com, and my favorite, Undisclosed.Recipients.

The Times article, by Mark Coomes of Gannett News Service, says there is software to screen out spam, but the spaminators are finding out ways to get around it faster than it can be installed. Like junk mail and telemarketing, however, someone must be responding to these offers or they'd be out of business.

I can hardly wait for the morning when I download my e-mail and find "SICK AND TIRED OF SPAM? Here's a sure fire way to rid your computer of it forever!"

- Ironically, as I was wrapping up this column Tuesday afternoon, Kewanee Police Chief Joe Dakin called to ask if we would alert people in the area to the return of an e-mail scam from a few years ago in which someone offers great sums of money to act as an intermediary in this country on your behalf. The old scam involved e-mails from Nigeria and were reported here and elsewhere, as I recall. Chief Dakin said, above all, do not send your Social Security, credit card or bank numbers, or in any way respond to the e-mail offer. He also said they give a fax number to which you can respond. Don't.

By DAVE CLARKE, Regional Coordinator. Copyright © 1999 Kewanee Star Courier


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