What really fuels spam

— 3:30 PM on August 7, 2003

TR reader Veritas pointed me to this article over at Wired that reveals why spammers are so willing to endure universal scorn: men really will pay money for the hope gaining an extra couple of inches.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- A security flaw at a website operated by the purveyors of penis-enlargement pills has provided the world with a depressing answer to the question: Who in their right mind would buy something from a spammer?

An order log left exposed at one of Amazing Internet Products' websites revealed that, over a four-week period, some 6,000 people responded to e-mail ads and placed orders for the company's Pinacle herbal supplement. Most customers ordered two bottles of the pills at a price of $50 per bottle.

Amazing Internet Products pays only $5 for each bottle of pills, and spammers get $10 for each order they generate, yielding a tidy $35 profit per order. Take 6,000 orders with even one bottle per order, and you're looking at a stack of money—and that's just for four weeks.

As you might expect, the Pinacle pills don't actually work, but the FTC doesn't have the resources to go after companies like Amazing Internet Products.

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