E-mail Spam is email sent via the internet to a mass quantity of recipients without the permission from those recipients. Most Spammers get these addresses from Usenet postings, web pages, or data bases. Either that, or they might put an address of a common username in the “To” line of the email.
To illustrate, one could “make up” an email address to use for spamming such as email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, substituting the user name and domain name with any one of the most commonly used for email services. At the very least spamming can be thought of as the equivalent of postage due “junk mail”, or could also be the start or continuation of an internet scam. Many of the hosts of Spam mailings often use stolen credit card information, or give false contact information to siphon money out of people illegally, as well as make it difficult for prosecutors to track illegal spamming activity.
Another way spammers can scam people is by the use of spoof email addresses that look like they came from an authentic website but are really a fake representation of an original site. One of the most noted examples of spoofing is when someone tries to con an email recipient to giving away username and password information to a fake PayPal or eBay site. This way, money can be stolen from PayPal accounts associated with various merchants, often without the original merchant’s knowledge.
Actions can be taken to check the authenticity of an email address or website. To fight against this type of fraud, some domains require the use of SMTP-AUTH, which helps attest for the authentication of a specific email account from which an email originated. Another method of authentication would be for each email participant to copy and paste the domain name into the address bar, and see if that domain page comes up in connection with an email. This is especially useful if you get an email invoice for PayPal or some other merchant account in which a username or password might be needed to enter that account.
To avoid username and password fraud, it is better to get access to the original site to make a payment and not through a link in an email.
Prosecution of spam
Another form of precaution against email fraud by spammers is to report suspicious email to a domain or website from which the email claimed to be an account. For example, many people have reported to eBay that they have received emails which claim to be from email administration which can be verified by the eBay support staff. Furthermore, web servers such as Yahoo or Hotmail offer spam blocking and reporting services. This helps prevent the spread of spam, and suspicious email activity. If a person spams another person, the perpetrator of the spam better be careful. Spammers can not only lose email accounts, they can be legally prosecuted.
One way to avoid spam is by the use of various anti-virus or spyware programs. Automated spam filters can be set up to block any unwanted email messages from entering a person’s email inbox, then redirected to a spam monitoring service such as Spamcop.net. Another method of preventing spam would be to give email addresses to trusted sites, or only to close family members and friends who would not misuse your email address.