junk email

Interesting junk

Who thinks up this stuff?

Lately there has been a spate of junk email that piqued my interest. When it appears in the junk mailbox (thank you, Outlook!), it displays a more-or-less plausible name and the subject is always "hi it's <lastname>":

junk email tray

Some days I get ten or twenty of these. Normally I just delete this garbage without even looking at it, but today my curiosity got the better of me, and I opened up the three items highlighted in the graphic above, and they were quite interesting. They were all plain text messages, no HTML, no attachments.

The first part of each message was an identical pitch for a stock:

We have brought you winner after winner this year and things are only become better!

The 21st century house is one in which broadband is available in every room. Video streams to wherever you choose to watch it. House appliances are seamlessly integrated into a comprehensive network. This is already a reality for the wealthy, and is just now becoming a booming business as it spreads to the middle class house. Our next feature makes this all possible, and is bringing it to the world!

Advanced Powerline Technologies

Stock: APWL
Current Price: 0.100
Short Term Target: 0.27
Long Term Target: 1.10

An incredible announcement is expected out of the company very soon. This will be backed up by a PR blitz and I'm sure you can guess what will happen to the price of this issue! Tech companies blast off on news like this. Get in before this one takes off and ride it all the way to the bank!
APWL 1-year chart

A quick check found that this is a real over-the-counter stock, and the price quoted in the message is about right. As the chart (right) shows, its stock is not exactly making anybody rich. My standard sources (Marketwatch.com, Reuters Finance, and TD Ameritrade) have no profile information, but I did find an article on PinkSheets.com announcing that the company was having technical difficulties with its website and, by the way, "it has come to the attention of management that a third party is distributing unsolicited emails regarding the company."

But back to the emails— Here's the interesting twist: Each of the messages has a second part with different content. It looks almost like feed of headlines from some source.

Message from: "Alfonso Jennings" <serge'sdisregarded@acadia.eng.sun.com>

ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday began his visit to Turkey -- his first to a Muslim country -- with a message urging "dialogue" between Christians and Muslims as he moved to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Orders for expensive items like cars and refrigerators posted the biggest drop in more than six years in October, raising concerns about a weakening of the U.S. economy.

Message from: "Reginald Seay" <Bolivianfilth's@accnet.be>

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Dubai-owned company will accept final bids within two weeks for the sale of all $700 million worth of its U.S. port operations to an American buyer, a plan forced by concerns over terrorism security.
PERU, Indiana (AP) -- A 12-year-old girl set fire to her sleeping mother's bed and took off in the family car to fake the abduction of herself and her two younger siblings, police said.
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (CNN) -- A preliminary investigation into last week's fatal school bus crash indicates that a "faulty steering mechanism" on a passing car caused the accident, a police spokesman said Tuesday. LONDON, England (AP) -- An Italian academic who met with a former Russian spy the day he fell ill with radiation poisoning was being tested for contamination and was under security protection Tuesday in London, as the unsolved death cast a shadow over Anglo-Russian relations.

Message from: "Alden Madden" <railway'sBenzedrine's@abcchemicals.com>

RIGA, Latvia (CNN) -- President Bush on Tuesday rejected suggestions that Iraq is in a civil war and vowed again he won't support the removal of U.S. troops from the war-torn country "before the mission is complete."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The price of existing homes sold in October fell for the third straight month and posted the biggest drop on record, an industry group said Tuesday, adding it expects weakness in pricing to drag on into next year.

Note the bizarre email addresses (fake, of course) associated with each name, using one or more apostrophes.

It's clear that someone went to a lot of work to send out junk-email messages customized with current headlines.

Presumably someone is trying to stir up trading of APWL penny stocks. Who would have an interest in doing that? Doh! Someone who would benefit from a price rise, i.e., someone who holds a pile of APWL shares. As Deep Throat said, "Follow the money." I wonder if anybody ever does.

Hmmmm. I also wonder if these are going only to people known to be traders in the stock market. And how would they know that? Good questions!