Clearswift's Spam Index, the industry's most in-depth study of unsolicited e-mail, reveals spammers appear to have turned their backs on pornography, with lewd mails in decline over the last two years. However, sex still sells, with health care spam, mainly libido-enhancing pills, now consistently dominating e-mail inboxes, with dodgy financial offers following a close second.
In June 2003, when the first Spam Index began, health care and financial spam together accounted for only 39% of all spam e-mails. Yet according to last month's
analysis of more than 20,000 individual mails, these two sectors encompass more than 80% of the total.
In the meantime, pornography, often considered synonymous with unwanted inbox content, now only accounts for 5%, four times less than the first Spam Index analysis.
Whilst the level of pornographic spam still fluctuates, with peaks noticeable over the last two years in the months leading up to the summer, as a general trend pornography has reduced by percentage over this time period.
The figures would suggest spammers have settled upon health care and financial offers as their tried and tested money earners, preying on people too embarrassed to discuss sensitive difficulties with their doctor, or all too eager to sign up to untested savings plans.
Dog-related spam, for example, made a fleeting appearance in May and has since almost disappeared, while this month, cigars and Egyptian sheets have made their mark for the first time.
Luxury goods remain popular, replica jewelry, watches and clothing all increased over the last four weeks, and there have also been notable rises in fake eBay scams.
According to Clearswift, in June, two of the strangest spam messages were:
- Hair thickening cream, proclaiming: "Have thicker hair within seconds! Click here for a free sample"
- Christian dating sites, offering love for religious people who spent Valentine's Day at home