I have a Road Runner e-mail account that I have given up using for anything important, because it’s inundated by spam. This is partly my fault; I posted some messages to Usenet newsgroups from that account some years ago, and those messages are preserved for posterity in Google Groups, where spammers harvest my address from the headers and use it to send me junk mail. But even though I no longer use that address, I still have to log on to the account periodically to delete the spam. I was doing that today when I spotted a message with a subject line that sent a chill up my spine:
From: Imigration Services
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 2:38 am
Subject: Green Card Lottery!
Live and Work in the U.S.A.
Official Program Conducted by the U.S. Government.
Please Register online to participate in the Green Card Lottery
To anyone who was reading Usenet in 1994, “Green Card Lottery” is a phrase that will live in infamy. It was the subject of the first commercial Usenet spam that, in the words of Wikipedia, “fired the starting gun for the legions of spammers that now infest the Internet.” That incident spawned the industry that now fills up my Road Runner mailbox with dozens of worthless sales pitches every day. And now a latter-day spammer has decided to revive the original spam scheme, this time by e-mail.
It gets worse. The Wikipedia article cited in the previous paragraph includes a link to the original Green Card Lottery post, which is also preserved in the Google Groups archive. I followed the link, and was astonished to see (in the Sponsored Links area on the right side of the page) advertisements for three Web sites that are promoting “Green Card lottery” registrations today. Aaarrgghh!!! I had thought that the Green Card Spam incident was a thing of the past. But it never ended. It’s still around, and probably won’t ever go away.