Image spam from a fake online prostitute finder

IT security and control firm Sophos is warning internet users of a new image spam campaign offering the services of an online prostitute finder.

The emails, which contain the subject line ‘How about finding a girl in your town who is ready to help you take the pressure off?’ include an image containing a weblink, which must be typed in manually by the recipient, as well as several sentences of seemingly random text. Sophos experts note that both features are often deployed by spammers in an attempt to bypass less sophisticated anti-spam filters.

If recipients type the link into their web browser, it will take them to an explicit website offering a search tool for finding prostitutes based in their local area.

“Image spam is often used for promoting things designed to improve your sex life – this latest campaign goes a step further than the usual emails offering drugs and medication, all of which presuppose that the recipient has a way of testing them,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “While there’s nothing malicious about the emails or the website, the vast majority of computer users will find this type of content totally inappropriate and offensive, and must look to anti-spam solutions if they want such filth eradicated from their inboxes.”

Image spam, which uses a graphic embedded in an email rather than regular text, has grown in popularity among spammers attempting to communicate their marketing messages to internet users. Often image spam is used for promoting stock pump-and dump scams or drugs to help with weight loss and sexual performance.

“The quantity of image spam in circulation almost doubled in 2006 and is already proving to be one of the biggest spamming trends of 2007 because it’s so hard for those anti-spam filters that just rely on analysis of textual spam content to detect it,” added Cluley. “It’s a sad sign of the times but perhaps not surprising to see that the world’s oldest profession is using 21st century technology to advertise its services.”

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