Is it Spam or is it Memorex?

After being away from email for a few days (or was it longer?), I find reams of spam in my inbox. Since my filters usually strain out such magical mystery meat, I decided to read a few.

The following phishing email claims to be from Verizon, my wireless provider, which prompted me to take a look. (ASIDE: Birdwatchers out there, isn't there a remarkable correspondence between the rhetorics of phishing and pishing? I mean, they're both manipulative strategies aimed at coaxing a target out into the open via misrepresentation. Annnnnnd, maybe that's where it ends.) The email:

Thank you for choosing VerizonTM. Unfortunately there was a problem processing your billing information for the month of December, 2006. Soon we have changing some servers in our data base for a new service for our customers. Our number of clients has been growed up very much last month and for that, was necesary a new aditional data base server, where some clients are moved in new server.

I guess what I wonder is: Is it cool to read the grammatical deviations in the message as clues that something phishy is going on? "Soon we have changing" and "Our number of clients has been growed up very much" stand out—but what kind of conclusions can we make about them? On the one hand, knowing how copy flow works at a joint like Verizon, one is pretty safe in assuming that, if it really was Verizon, the in-house copy editor would have corrected this stuff. On the other hand, "necesary" and "aditional" features don't necessarily mean an email is bogus.

I'm wondering about this at all because I'm working on a syllabus again today. And I know such a syllabus is treated with a similar level of scrutiny, so maybe it would be a worthwhile exercise to seed my Composition Theory and Practice syllabus with "aditional" features (a la Joseph Williams) to provide an occasion for discussing exactly this kind of illegitimacy. Such a move would equate the syllabus with spam, though, which may be a little further than I'm ready to take it. ;)


  1. Or, you could release your syllabus periodically over email to your students in pieces from email forwarders, some of them genuine and some of them falsified with sp4mm3r gr4mm3r, leaving it up to the students to piece together the real thing...

    I'm not sure that the effort would be worth it, but it sounds kinda fun.


  2. Yes! That is a brilliant idea. Subject line could be "Improve Your Sex Life!" or some equiv. :)

  3. Anonymous5:39 PM

    The same reason why there will never be an effective machine translation technology (and by never I mean *never*) is why there will never be an effective antispam filtering technology. But that's an idea for others to elaborate.

    Surely you got more interesting spam than a Verizon phishing scam?


  4. Oh my, we're not even GOING there. :)