Scam? Depends. Spammers? Hell Yeah

So, most people have heard about the latest pyramid type scheme out there, the “Refer some friends, and get a free LCD Panel Screen or TV” one.. (Similar projects by the same folks hawk free iPods)

So anyway, after seeing it come up in a bunch of threads on various forums I read, I figured a little research was in order… I mean, free LCD monitors? Free iPods? This has got to be too good to be true… right?

Sort of. (And this is where the “Scam? Depends.” part comes in). Many folks have gotten their free iPods, or whatever, but the fact is, nothing is free, and in this case, the price isn’t covered by you, but by the affiliate fee that the freeflatscreen people rake in by getting you (and your X friends who you refer) to sign up for various programs on the net that pay $$$ for signups. Of course, your not really interested in said offer, and neither are your friends, so in the end you all up cancelling said services, and those are the people who in essance, pay for your flatscreen… The FreeFlatScreens folks also gamble on the chance that most folks who sign up for their service (and go after a product/service, thus making them a couple bucks) will not be able to recruit enough new blood to actually qualify for the free goodies… (This is, for them, free money, since they owe you nothing, yet keep the $$ they got for you checking out whatever service it was you tried out). And of course, since the bulk of the online population already knows about the sites, and is already signed up, odds are, its going to be harder and harder for the new members to sign up enough people to meet the “Freebie!” goal… (Typical pyramid scheme outcome).. but hey, if you do somehow manage to rack up enough referrals, and (most likely) piss off everyone on the forum and get yourself banned in the process, dont come crying to me, you got your shiney new iPod and Flatscreen, right?

Anyway, the one thing I can say for sure is this, they definately sell your email address off to other folks… other… less savory folks with no qualms about flooding your inbox…

I created a brand-spanking new disposable email address on 8/24/04, just to see… A couple of hours after I created the email address, I registered over at FreeFlatScreens, and made sure to UNCHECK the “I wish to recieve your SPAM CRAP” box when it was offered… I was then nice enough to confirm the email address for them via their “Click here to confirm your email!” address… Exactly six hours and three minutes later I got my first spam email in an account that never existed, let alone was given out, prior to the trying out the FreeFlatScreens site; This one advertising “GroupLotto”… of course generously letting me know that if I wished to no longer recieve emails or be registered in the “CashInEmail” mailing list, I could -Click Here- to get off their list… Riiiiight… sure, lets just see how this pans out without my making it worse, right?

So anyway, I forget all about the whole FreeFlatScreen! thing until today, when I realize “oh yeah, I better check that email account!”… about 100 messages give or take, all but 2 recognized by my spam filter for what they are (“[SPAM!]” says the title, and I agree)… all courtesy of the nice people who wanted to give me a free flatscreen for a little of my time… awwww.

I know what your thinking to yourself “Hey, wait, if they’re a bunch of spammers, and you hate spammers, then why the links to their site in your update, you hypocrite!”… yeah.. well, it’s true, they sold “my” email address to some spam folks, and I hate that.. but, you see, I figure if eight other folks out there are crazy enough to sign up for a free flat screen and get spammed themselves, well, then, they’d probably be stupid enough to do it without my links.. and my links count towards *MY* free flatscreen, so there.. 😉 Atleast I’m honest about it, unlike the FFS people, who give you a checkbox with no intention of honoring it.

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