20 May, 2007

What Fools These Mortals Be

Just how stupid are we? Apart from the obvious symptoms of idiocy – like voting for conservative governments, buying junk food, wrecking the climate, watching American TV and living in cities – there are other less obvious signs. One of these is the way we encourage online criminals to pester and exploit us.

For example, people who open emails from spammers, thus potentially verifying their email address to the spammer and making it a much more valuable and saleable commodity. Worse still are people who actually buy stuff from spammers. It's really simple, guys, if you don't buy stuff, they don't get any money and there's no reason for them to do it anymore. In fact, because there is this direct relationship between feeding the beast and the size of it, you can tell who is buying what. Basically, it is a load of sexually inadequate old farts too embarrassed to see a doctor for their Viagra prescriptions, and greedy but very stupid pinheads who think that buying a stock recommended online will get them rich, who are keeping this torrent of rubbish pouring down on us.

Then there is phishing. This is where someone with limited English and a deep grasp of human stupidity sends out a million emails asking for help moving a very large sum of money out of Nigeria (or some similarly obvious scam) and then touches up the morons who respond to it for funds for fictitious travel expenses, lawyers, bribes, and so on. Sometimes they just ask for bank and credit card details so they can do a spot of identity theft. This is a global criminal activity worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Who are all these greed-crazed halfwits who are so willing to believe any unknown stranger who spams them out of the blue? If you are one of them, send me half a million dollars immediately. Don't bother asking for my bank details though, I'll only accept cheques made out to 'cash'.

Finally, and this is my personal favourite, there are the people who deliberately visit a site called http://www.drive-by-download.info in order to have their PCs infected with a virus. Yes, I know it sounds absolutely insane but there are (at the last count) 409 people who have done this. A 'drive-by download' is a nasty little trick where a website has been set up (or hijacked) so that when people visit it – usually in response to a spam email (idiots!) - a virus is automatically loaded onto their computer. In the case of drive-by-downloads.info the perpetrator put adverts on the web, using Google Ads that went like this:

Drive-By Download
Is your PC virus-free?
Get it infected here!

Luckily for the 409 dimwits who have visited the site, it is a harmless one run by an IT consultant doing some kind of research (on how small an IQ can be while still leaving its owner capable of pressing a mouse button, I suppose).

Students of human idiocy who like a good laugh – or those simply wanting to depress themselves utterly – should take a look at the annual Darwin Awards. These awards 'salute the improvement of the human genome by honouring those who accidentally remove themselves from it...' There should be an award for 'the most money lost in an internet scam' but the Darwins only honour people who have paid the ultimate price for their stupidity.


Timothy Carter said...

Didn't Einstein say something about human stupidity being more infinite than the universe? You just have to laugh sometimes.

I finally got one of those emails from someone in Africa wanting to move a large amount of cash. I was so pleased - I'd heard about them from other people, but never actually got one until just then. It was true, those emails do actually exist! Needless to say I deleted it, but I was tempted to email back and thank the guy for the entertainment!

graywave said...

Actually, some people do write back to them, pretending to be taken in and trying to string the scammer along for as long as they can - while publishing the entire correspondence on a webesite somewhere. These sites can be quite funny. Check out http://www.419eater.com/ and http://bustedupcowgirl.com/scampage.html as examples of this kind of 'scambaiting'.

Timothy Carter said...

I will check those out! Thank you.

Speaking of links, I am going to add a link to your site to my blog. Will you add a link to mine in return?

graywave said...

No problem, Tim. We starving writers need to stick together! Watch me cleverly work it into my next posting...

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