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Bad e-mail

A study by the Federal Trade Commission reports that two-thirds of all unsolicited commercial e-mail, also known as spam, contains some kind of false information.

In a random sample of 1,000 pieces of spam, 66 percent contained false “From” lines, “Subject” lines, or message text. Most of the offers were advertising an investment or business opportunity—work-at-home, franchise, chain letters (20 percent); adult—pornography, dating services (18 percent); or finance—credit cards, refinancing, insurance, foreign money offers (17 percent).

According to the results, 96 percent of the spam used to sell business and investment opportunities contained false information, while 48 percent of junk e-mail promoting health services or products and 47 percent of travel/leisure spam contained false information. In addition, the majority of the spammers marketing pornography didn’t let the recipients know that the e-mail contained graphic images.

The FTC study also found that although there are a number of states requiring spammers to begin every subject line with “ADV” to indicate that the e-mail contains an advertisement, only about 2 percent of the messages did so.

This study is on the heels of many efforts by legislators and Internet providers to limit spam. Internet providers such as EarthLink and America Online have come up with various software filters to capture junk e-mail going to their users. These companies have also filed suit and won lawsuits against spammers. For example, EarthLink won a $25 million judgment against a Tennessee spammer in July 2002. The state of Virginia just passed a law that makes it a felony to send large volumes of spam with fraudulent return addresses to e-mail servers based in the state. On the federal level, legislators plan to or have already introduced bills that limit spam.

Holiday happenings

Drive or walk through a tour of Bethlehem December 5-6 behind the banking center on Main Street in Horse Cave, with 12 scenes and live animals from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Admission is free and donations are accepted. For info call (270) 786-2671 or (270) 786-1382.

Find lots more holiday activities in the “Events” column. For an even more complete events listing go to and click on “Find an Event.”

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