November 04, 2008 |
Normally I tend not to notice spammers on Twitter. Of course I get some following notifications from accounts obviously belonging to spammers and have self-promotion is the only reason for their Twitter presence but normally it is not difficult to ignore such accounts. But lately I have noticed a trend that is disturbing – the fact that there are way too many spammers trying to cash in on the economic turmoil and some of the cases are definitely interesting enough not to ignore them completely.
In general it is a well-known fact that during any serious crisis – political or economic – the number of various scammers grows exponentially as people suffering from uncertainty can easily be deceived and will often fall for scams where they could otherwise easily see a fraud. Unfortunately, the economic turmoil prevents many people from thinking logically – hence the enormous number of various getting rich quick types of scams emerging lately.
I don’t know if I am the only one to notice this but recently I have started to get tons of spam emails focused on the world financial crisis and promising some help in coping with it. Often such emails offer a solution to cope with the crisis in form of some training course for managers intended to help top managers adapt to severe economic conditions and learn how to do better than competitors in a recession or some very similar course or book or seminar.
Today’s example is a classical Twitter spammer – classical to the extent that I started to wonder if there are some special manuals on how to create an easily identifiable spammy account on Twitter and how to do everything a spammer is supposed to do. Of course I arrived to this suspicious account from a new follower notification email and while I usually simply evaluate the account to see if I should follow the person back and move on in a few seconds, in this particular case I could not help but notice how this account could be used as something of a template or an example of how to spam people on Twitter.
The account belongs to a lady who describes herself as the “CEO of Mighty Ventures and a Mega-Best Selling Author”. She also claims that she uses her “success to build, advise and invest in a host of businesses to stimulate economic growth”. Of course this all sounds quite innocent until you start looking at the updates. The thing is that the account has only sent 10 updates as of this writing (with the earliest one of them sent a few days ago, on October 29). Yet the account already follows over 1,000 people and even has more than a hundred of followers as well.
Nine out of the ten updates state that the account owner gives away 5,000 copies of a book titled “Rules for Renegades” by Christine Comaford-Lynch. Obviously all the tweets link to the website (sorry, no links here, this post is obviously not intended to help them with traffic or Google juice) where you will be persuaded into getting the book for free along with a bunch of other free accompanying goods.
The poorly designed and built website is devoted to describing the book that is intended to help you cope with the crisis by asking multiple questions that will make you worry first and hopefully (for the author) order you free copy of the book to answer these questions second.
The irony is that the book in question is actually a New York Times business bestseller and is actually priced at $24.95 promising to deliver “advice on business, friendships and self-fulfillment by a founder of five successful companies”. The most intriguing part is that the person behind the amazing giveaway of 5 thousand books along with two teleseminars some time in January on the same “double your revenue” topic only insists on doing it all for the sake of entrepreneurship in America and in the world. The only thing that you will have to pay for is shipping and handling worth $7.95.
I have my own doubts about this all being a total scam intended to cash off on the money collected from the interested people but here I can hardly prove anything. The Twitter account and the website seem to actually belong to the author of the book (though I can’t be sure, of course) and I can also see the reasons for such an approach of giving away the books hoping to sell more of them and seminars hoping to get more consulting orders. But that does not mean that such an approach is anything but spam when it comes to promoting these seemingly lucrative offers. Besides, tell me if you believe a best-selling author thinks it is actually worth her time spending lengthy hours following hundreds of accounts on Twitter.
I was obviously not the only one to notice the spammy nature of the account as one of the people exposed to this spam technique already pointed out that it looked very much like spam and received something that looked like a sincere apology:
But of course it is quite obvious that creating an account on Twitter to follow a thousand people and pushing the constant updates about your giveaway to all the new followers can be qualified as spam without any doubts – especially if pushing your website to all the eyeballs that will be forced to watch from the following notification emails is the only thing you do with the account.
Usually the better overall economic environment is, the less frauds the society has while when the economy suffers some downturn and people start to feel negative consequences of it, they grow more vulnerable to cheaters, especially when it comes to extremely appealing offers of getting richer when everyone else is only growing poorer.
Of course it is quite understandable that now that the economy is such a mess we will be exposed to the ever-increasing number of people pushing various ways to fix that mess in our own lives and pockets to us – and making money off our hope not to go broke together with the entire world financial system. And of course this will mean continued growth of all sorts of spam in the get-rich-quick category everywhere, Twitter included. Maybe that will finally persuade Twitter team that a button to report a spammer could finally be a good idea on the service?