Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

The recent arrest of “Spam King” Robert Alan Soloway by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle came as a relief to many consumers and those in the tech security community. But for every spammer in the slammer, many others are still out there attempting to infiltrate our inboxes.

Unscrupulous marketers clog up servers with their obnoxious offers for body-enhancement products, discounted software and replica brand-name watches. Identity thieves bait you with phishing scams that appear to come from your bank. Cons claiming to be wealthy foreigners plead for your assistance in transferring funds and make "confidential business proposals."

And it’s not just our computers that are under attack; spammers are hitting cell phones, too. These junk text messages can cost you a dime a pop if you’re not on a text-messaging plan.

As computer spammers become more sophisticated at disguising their identities and develop new tactics to slip past filters – like using graphics instead of text – it becomes increasingly difficult to block all unwanted and illegal messages. But you can reduce the amount of spam you receive.

Spam scams are profitable. As James Blascovich, a psychology professor at the University of California, recently noted, even if just one-half of 1 percent of all e-mail users are gullible and can be separated from $20, that's a potential economy of $5.5 billion in the U.S. alone.

Don’t be scammed by spammers. If it seems too good to be true, report it. Then hit delete. And if you're tempted to give junk-mail senders a piece of your mind, don't. By replying, you'll become a target for more spam.

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