Did anyone actually look at this email before sending?

I received spam advertising AARP recently. Yes, AARP. Oh, of course they didn’t send me spam, they hired someone who probably hired someone who contracted with an affiliate marketer to send mail.
The affiliates, while capable of bypassing spam filters, are incapable of actually sending readable mail.

Screenshot of totally incompetent spam

No one looked at the mail before they sent it

That’s actually how the message appeared in my mail client: totally unreadable images. When I looked at the raw source of the message I found pages of hashbusting text in HTML comments.
I’m not surprised. A lot of legitimate and responsible and well-known groups hire spammers. They’ll argue they prohibit spam in contracts with affiliates, but the verbiage in the contract only means anything if they choose to enforce the no-spamming clause. Many of them don’t.
This is why a lot of spam filtering companies and ISP postmasters don’t care that they’re blocking legitimate companies. Why? Because legitimate companies hire spammers to send their mail. This same email address gets spam from any number of nationally branded companies.
Hiring affiliates, or hiring marketing agencies who hire email marketing companies who hire spammers, gives a sender legal cover for spam. It may even give the company plausible deniability. But that doesn’t change the fact that those senders are supporting and encouraging spam.


  1. Chilli says

    Do you also believe that all those spam messages for Rolex watches are somehow from Rolex too? This isn’t from AARP…this is a SPAM that’s been going around for years now. Did you bother looking into the source code to see where it sends you? My guess is it aint AARP…Do you know what your talking about?

    1. laura says

      This is from AARP, I did look at the source code and it sends me to:

  2. John Levine says

    AARP is a highly skilled long time spammer. They sent me spam a day or two after my 50th birthday, which was quite impressive in a sleazy ethics-free way.

  3. Derek says

    Chilli says:
    > Do you know what your (sic) talking about?
    That made my day.
    Chili, do you know who you’re talking to? If you did you wouldn’t ask such a question, really you wouldn’t.

  4. Al says

    Chilli — your employer sure seems to be the responsible party from what I’m seeing and reading here. Do you know what you’re talking about?

  5. Annalivia says

    Oooooh, sockpuppet love. If the AARP wants to defend itself, sending a puppet named “chili” is not really a very professional way to go about it…

  6. Spam from mainstream companies – Word to the Wise says

    […] I wrote about spam I received advertising AARP and used it as an example of a mainstream group supporting spammers by hiring them (or hiring them […]

  7. Bloggers lock horns with AARP over spam says

    […] anti-spam consultancy and software firm that sponsors the Web site, got the ball rolling when she heaped derision on a spam message she received from the senior citizen […]


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