Who doesn’t recall at some point seeing a late night television infomercial pitching some sort of “miracle” product that you just have to have? How about a magical pill that had the power to melt away that unwanted pounds or give you all the energy you could possibly want? These types of snake oil products aren’t just doomed to be promoted through infomercials. Email spammers want their share of the profits also. The security research team at AppRiver has spotted a snake oil campaign earlier this week. The email blast is a marketing email for a “brain enhancement” pill that claims to help you “think like Bill Gates.”
The email is cleverly disguised in a newsletter format reminiscent to that of what larger media publications use. Besides the outlandish claims inside the message, the spammers also injected random, hidden text within the email to trick spam filters into thinking the email is not spam. This is known as text stuffing.
The email contains a link to a website that goes into more detail about the brain enhancement product. The website again is mocked up to resemble a news publication, along with a fake Facebook “Like” counter, Amazon product reviews, excerpts from clinical case studies and more. After a few seconds on the site, we were prompted to purchase the product at 75% off.
While not your typical malware threat, snake oil campaigns can be destructive in their own right, usually financially. It’s always best to get independent verification on marketing emails like these if you decide to try a product or service you’re unfamiliar with. A quick Google search can usually provide hints at the legitimacy of an email blast such as this. Because the campaign utilized common tactics known to spammers like text stuffing, multiple sending domains and questionable data, we can safely assume that the legitimacy of this email blast should be questioned.
AppRiver’s SecureTide spam & virus filter has quarantined around 14,300+ of these messages so far, preventing them from reaching our customers’ inboxes.