Trump, 'Penis Pump' Top Spam of 2005

AOL on Wednesday released its annual top ten most commonly sent junk e-mails, revealing that spammers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated to dupe users into falling for their schemes. It also included an increase in SOS, or special order spam.

Special order spam differs from traditional unsolicited e-mail in the way that it attempts to trick a user by pretending to be from a friend, or as part of a legitimate transaction. In fact, six of the top 10 spam messages fall into this category. This compares to two last year, and none in 2003.

"What we're seeing is that spammers are far more organized and professional than ever before," AOL Postmaster Charles Stiles said. "Spam gangs on the internet engaging in 'hit-and-run' spam attacks in 2004 have turned into a tightly-knit, controlled, web-based spam mafia coordinating sustained attacks on netizens in 2005."

At the top of the list were spam mails that use popular recognition such as "Donald Trump Wants You - Please Respond." This was followed by ads for a "Penis Patch" and a "Body Wrap" that promises a loss of six to 20 inches in one hour.

Other notable spam subjects from the top ten included personalized e-mails saying they've sent the user to the wrong site, faked shipment notifications, and ads for Rolex watches.

There were some positives in the AOL survey. Complaints to AOL over spam mail have declined 75 percent since peaking in late 2003. The service credits the drop to increased protection provided by filtering technology, as well as litigation and law enforcement actions.

AOL blocked 1.5 billion spam e-mails in 2005, a slight increase over 2004. What may be the most striking of all is the amount of spam. According to AOL, eight out of every 10 e-mails received is now blocked as spam.

Stiles said there are several steps that users can take to better protect themselves from the dangers. First and foremost, users should protect their personal information online and not respond to spam mails in any way. Next, don't click on links within spam e-mails, and if something looks suspicious, you should report it.

Finally, keeping spam filters up to date will also catch more spam. Stiles said it might be a good idea to add the top 10 subject lines to keyword and content filters to catch more junk e-mail.

"When it comes to protecting your in box, consumers should adopt a 'code red' mentality for 2006, because ultimately their personal identity is at stake," Stiles warned.

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