Womanhood microscopic and other hot stock tips
One of my favorite things about getting spam is... wait. I don't have a favorite thing.
The most irritating and difficult spam emails to catch are the newer generation spam, the ones that contain a sort of mangled embedded image instead of just plain ol' words. Or, they come with really bizarre, randomly generated passages or simply copyrighted material stolen from a legit web site — you know, like this:
I get hundreds of these per day (you probably do, too), and they are all attempts to get me to purchase penny stocks. Penny stocks are cheap stocks from risky companies, basically. They trade on the OTCBB rather than on a reputable exchange like the NASDAQ or the NYSE, and are the kinds of stocks that the guys in The Boiler Room try to sell over the phone. From About.com:
"Penny stocks are a special category of low priced, usually $1 or less, stocks often issued by highly speculative companies. They are frequently the focus of stock scams and manipulations."
There are lots of people out there who want you to buy penny stocks — usually not the people who work for the company that has issued the stock. Basically, the scheme is this: A day trader with shifty eyes and a heart of tar buys up thousands of penny stocks in a company. They then hype the company in some fashion, convincing other people to buy the stock as well. Then they sell. Buy low, sell high — super easy, you've heard it all before, right? They dump the stock, they make a few dozen cents per stock, which, mulitplied by thousands, adds up to a hefty sum over the course of a few succesful scams.
The stock hyping is done, these days, via email — that's right, those awesome spam messages that clutter your inbox like electronic cholestorol in your virtual arteries.
Spam probably wouldn't be sent out if there wasn't some kind of return on it, right? Which means that there are people out there who click the links to buy cheap, possibly fake Cialis and people who go and buy penny stocks based on advice from an email that landed in their junk folder. It means, in essence, that there are still suckers out there who think that they can get rich quick by purchasing these "hot stocks." And it means that the people who send the penny stock emails are actually making money from them. The scam works.
When I first read about penny stock spam scams, my first thought was, "Bastards! You stinking bastards! How dare you try to take advantage of people like that?" My second thought, which quickly followed the first, was "What kind of idiot would actually buy stock on advice that came in an email with the subject heading Hi lsljjfcmkijanucgwopt? They deserve to lose everything." My third thought was, "How can I scam people into buying penny stocks?"
Well, other people have, of course, beat me to the punch. Joshua Cyr, a weblebrity, starting hypothetically trading the stocks and posting the information on his website in May of 2005. Joshua has continued the experiment to see just how much he could make using the tips contained in the stock spam. His net profit as of 2007? -$60K. I'll spell it out just in case you miss the little minus sign: NEGATIVE sixty-thousand dollars.
I, fortunately, was hampered by the lack of actual cash with which to purchase stocks, and the lack of imagination to simply track the stocks AS IF I had actually invested in them. But people do follow spam advice, do buy these stocks, do make the spammer rich and fat and well-suited in navy blue pinstripe suits, and consequently, do lose thousands and thousands of dollars overnight when the spammers dump their stock for profit.
Now, short of joining a boiler room team (I DO look great in pinstripes, though) and trying to bilk poor schmucks out of their hard-earned 401K dollars, I can't see a good way to get rich on penny stocks. I'm sure most Wise Bread readers aren't about to go out and start buying them en masse. But you probably know someone who is stupid enough to consider doing it. I know I do.
It's your job, Dear Reader with Functioning Brain Cells, to prevent your stupid friends and family from letting spam scammers get rich. It's like the War on Drugs, except that it makes sense, and it might actually work — I'm calling it the War on Greed and Stupidity. It starts now.