The Phishing Vortex

I am a very lucky man. Just today, according to my email inbox, I won two Makita six-piece combo kits, earned loyalty rewards for something called TEMU and won multiple Ninja Air Fryers.

And that is just two days after winning a “CEN-TECH Portable Jump Starter.” Maybe I will use it to jump start all my air fryers.

My inbox is a mess, a sticky spider’s web that catches online junk. I—like you, I imagine—am bombarded by email ads, phishing, fraud and online offers too good to be true.

“DAVE, YOU ARE 150 POINTS AWAY FROM YOUR NEXT REWARD,” screamed an email this morning. The thing is, I never claimed my first reward. Plus, I likely do not need rewards and discounts since “Ms. Ramona Caswell” emailed me with an offer that will guarantee financial independence—nay, riches—if I email her back with my credit card numbers.

And while Ramona’s offer is tempting, I may go with “Nancy Castillo,” whose recent email noted: “Dear Wealth Seeker, Gurus are dumbfounded … For decades, the whole personal development industry has tried breaking the code behind the science of being wealthy … But that stops now. After over almost a century of research, a group of experts stumbled on this secret document from NASA …”

NASA???? Oh, hell yeah.

Wait! This just in: Kohl’s just informed me that I won a “new Le Creuset.” This is amazing news, and I cannot wait to find out what a Le Creuset is. 

But my email inbox is not just a springboard for riches. That inbox knows every ache and itch that plagues this 55-year-old body. I guess it is the algorithms, the artificial computer intelligence stuff that tracks your likes and ailments.

Creepy? Yes. Accurate? Eerily so.

I often talk about going back to the gym. Then I talk about cookies. Now I get emails that say, “Which Ugly Plant Dissolves Thick Arm Fat?” 

Emails in my inbox offer treatment for
lower-back pain, which I get but only discuss with my wife. Other emails offer solutions to memory loss, which, if I recall, is something I bemoan to my wife—“I cannot find my keys,” I’ll proclaim. “You mean the jangly objects in your hand?” she answers.

But here’s the thing: I am of a generation that recognizes spam and refrains from sending my savings to Nigerian princes promising riches and harems. Yet, many internet users fall prey easily. The Arm-Fat-Plant people and/or robots know their way around the internet, and they know we like a good deal and thin arms and power tools and fabulous wealth.

Some companies that collect your data just want to sell you stuff—targeted goods. Other email purveyors are ready to take your bank account down with one click. If it looks suspicious, it likely is. Be careful and conservative in your inbox.

Yet, I must say, I am tempted to plant those thick-arm plants in my CEN-TECH jump starter and bulk up for Ninja Air Fryin’ season. OS

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