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Having a
Sacrificial email Address


It's important to be able to avoid spam nonsense and hoax emails, not only by preventing your own e-mail inboxes being filled up with rubbish but also by being forewarned of various SCAMS that are going around. You might already be aware of the Nigerian prince who wants to use your bank account and the Lottery winning notification not being what they claim to be, but are you aware of luck based messages asking you to forward them on?, and what about Update your bank security details and delete sulfnbk and jdbgmgr.exe? There might be new scams that come along, and if you've never seen Pavlo88 or a fake eCard greeting card before, you might be caught out! So, here's a method to help to avoid new scams taking you by surprise. The method involves creating a sacrificial email address. The idea is a bit like having a sacrificial anode on a boat, so the propeller isn't dissolved, except in the case of a sacrificial email address, it protects your genuine email from being confounded by undetectably convincing scam spam messages. It doesn't stop you receiving them, but it helps you to avoid being fooled by them.

In the early issues of Zyra's site there were two e-mail addresses on the front page: spam@[address] and contact@[address]. Spam senders sent to both, so it was easy to spot which messages were spam. Nowadays a more advanced method involves creating different email addresses for different purposes and then having an additional one to be "sacrificial". You add a rule in your email client program to redirect the messages coming in to the sacrificial email address into a special dustbin folder.

What happens then is the sacrificial address receives loads of spam including all the latest hoaxes and scams. Every now and then you have a look at a few of them and see the type of dirty tricks that are currently in fashion at the time. For example, a while ago, fake eGreeting cards were unheard of. So the first ones you'd get would usually arrive to your main email address, and unless you were vigilant and/or paranoid, you might be fooled into clicking on a link in such a hoax message. In contrast, with a sacrificial address and linked dustbin email folder in place, you'd see such nonsense come in long before it arrived at your genuine address.

One of the ways in which scams and frauds can be unmasked by having a sacrificial email address is because of the non-rareness of them. It may have been unfortunate that the I Need Hits company had their email address list compromised, but this produced the somewhat amusing situation where half a dozen Nigeria scams were coming in on the same day to the same address. With supposed African princes and bereaved dignitaries, the illusion is quite quickly destroyed when several of them write in on the same day! Messages saying you have won the lottery similarly cease to have much credibility when they are arriving at a rate of several per day!

How to get a sacrificial email address:

1. Set up a domain with multiple email addresses

2. As well as having proper incoming email addresses for genuine messages, you have a made-up address set up.

3. You publish that address in places where it's likely to be harvested and where it won't receive any genuine emails.

4. Set up your email client inbox to direct all mail to the sacrificial address into a virtual dustbin specifically for the purpose.

5. Examine the contents of the email dustbin to see what new scams are coming along.


Also see Choice of email address