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Why doesn't spam exist in the real world?Posted under Miscellaneous on Thursday, June 19, 2014 @ 2:51:49 PM
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i was lamenting to myself about what a sorry state we're in when it comes to dealing with spam, sales calls, get rich quick schemes, etc. as an it professional, i look at this as a problem that can be squarely summed up as not having a good method for identity verification.
when i get snail mail that says something about my mortgage or bank account on the envelope it's usually from someone that has absolutely no relationship to either of those things. rather, it's some marketing company that's hoping i'll open the envelope because i either think it's important or because i'm not 100% sure that it's not important. solidly a problem with not having any way to know who the message is from.
same thing with e-mail spam. e-mail was invented in a different world where everyone online was trustworthy so there was no need to perform stringent identity verification. we've made a little progress toward rudimentary identity verification solutions such as spf, etc but this is still not widely implemented and most people (many mail admins included) don't even know what it is. blacklisting is a laughable stopgap at best and woefully ineffective at worst.
that got me thinking...if i receive spam that is very obviously spam (i.e nigerian 419 scams and the like) in my email, why don't i get it via snail mail too? there must be some sort of accountability when it comes to the usps because i get spam by almost every other mechanism imaginable...e-mail, phone, fax, sms, even facebook now, but i've never had it come via snail mail. i wonder if it's simply because it actually costs someone 30 cents to mail a letter and all of those other vectors are free or nearly free. yeah, must be.
but if i was a scammer and i wanted to push the envelope (no pun intended) i'd start sending this stuff out via physical mail. you'd probably get some immediate credibility because folks aren't accustomed to getting legit scam stuff in their mailbox. i'd do some research and target older folks that probably aren't afraid of sending bank account info or other sensitive material through the mail because that's how they did it before the internet existed. i'd try to narrow my targets down to folks that are sitting on a six or seven figure annuity or 401k and prey upon their assumption that just because something comes in the mail it must be traceable and therefore the sender would be accountable if they tried to commit mail fraud.
granted i'm not saying that there aren't laws to prohibit that, what i'm saying is that i think it'd be easy pickins for a while and it would probably be fairly easy to do in a way in which it would be next to impossible if not impossible for someone to catch you.
so, yeah. why doesn't spam exist in the real world?