woes cause e-mail SPAM to soar
By Evan Schuman
WHIPPANY, N.J., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy's decline
into recession last year had an unexpected impact --
unsolicited e-mail advertisements, known as SPAM, soared.
"During an economic downturn, people are looking for ways
to make money fast and companies are looking for the cheapest
ways to advertise," Margie Arbon, director of operations for
Mail Abuse Prevent System, told United Press International in
a telephone interview. MAPS is a non-profit that compiles
lists of Internet service providers whose customers send
"(The) problem has started to explode in the last year or
so. It's now really starting to become a big problem," said
Ken Schneider, chief technology officer for Brightmail, which
makes anti-SPAM software for large ISPs, including Earthlink
The situation is made worse because ISPs also are cutting
back on staffing, which means fewer people at e-mail abuse
desks to catch and stop people from sending SPAM, said Arbon,
who said the increase in SPAM in the past year has been
estimated in some cases at 600 percent.
"The ISPs are simply not as good about enforcing their
acceptable use policies as they were a year ago," she
The problem certainly is not limited to the United States.
Ray Everett-Church, chief privacy officer for the EPrivacy
Group, said many of the e-mail SPAM messages he tracks down
were routed through ISPs in China, Korea, Costa Rica and the
The reason SPAM is growing in such weak economies is that
it is a very low-cost way to make a living. For about $200,
millions of names be purchased and contacted.
"Spamming costs so little to get into that if even one
sucker out of a million buys your miracle weight-loss product,
you have more than paid for your initial expenditure," Church
Beyond the productivity and technology costs of the SPAM
messages flooding consumer and business machines, marketers
complain aggressive SPAM campaigns undermine legitimate E-mail
Ironically, it comes at a time when marketers were starting
to move their business away from U.S. Postal Service mail to
e-Mail, a reaction to last year's U.S.-based anthrax mail
attacks, said Louis Mastria, director of public and
international affairs for the Direct Marketing Association.
"If consumers have to wade through tons of bulk e-mail
SPAM, the chance that our legitimate messages will get through
is watered down," Mastria said.
The hallmark of a legitimate e-mail marketing campaign,
DMA's Mastria said, is that prospective customers have an
opportunity to say they do not want to receive the e-mails.
But that also is a very popular trick used by spammers.
Spammers will send out millions of random e-mail addresses,
hoping some find their way to actual people. By making the
offer to remove anyone who does not want the message, the
spammer is attempting to verify it is a true e-mail account.
Once verified -- even though the message most likely will be a
request to not send any more advertisements -- that mailbox
quickly is overwhelmed with more SPAM.
"It reduces the effectiveness of legitimate e-mail
marketers," Mastria said. "It's a genuine concern. There's no
question about it."
Copyright © 2002 United Press