Spam messages, or unwanted e-mail asking for donations or selling services, are increasingly religious in nature, according to CNET News (Nov. 19). Message Labs, an antispam security company, has recently intercepted a large number of spiritual e-mails. They are legal because they don’t plug products, just religious ideals.
It’s on the rise for a number of reasons, said Matt Sergeant, antispam technologist for MessageLabs. “It is exempt from spam laws, and it’s legal according to most national laws …It’s not commercial, and that’s interesting in a way, because there is a cost, yet no financial return.
But they may believe there is a spiritual return.” Some of the e-mail only delivers a religious message, such as evangelizing non-Christians, and asks for nothing in return. However, other religious spam preys on victims’ gullibility. One sender sought a “better Christian individual” to receive $18.6 million for religious purposes, so long as the recipient of the mail could put some money up-front. It is believed users will see more religious-oriented bulk e-mail in the run-up to Christmas.
“It’s been around for a long time but has tended to be below the radar,” Sergeant said. “This time, there’s been a large spam run, so we can expect to see more of the same. It’s becoming so cheap to do; even if you have little money, you can still send millions of messages.”