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Donald Trump and "penis patch" were the most popular subject lines used by spammers this year, as the fraudsters grew more sophisticated in trying to trick consumers, America Online said Wednesday in its third annual Top 10 Spam List.
Six out of the 10 top subject lines this year fell into what experts call "special-order spam," which pretend to be from a friend, or part of a legitimate, customer-driven transaction. Subject lines carrying the name of famous N.Y. business tycoon Donald Trump led the list, with "penis patch" the second most popular phrase.
The number of top 10 spam subject lines replacing generic pitches with more personal come-ons increased dramatically from last year, when only two fell into the special-order spam category, and none in 2003, AOL, a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., said.
For example, this year's list features "your mortgage application is ready," another claims to have sent "you to the wrong site," and others simply say "thank you" or "re:," as if they are responding to the recipient.
"While the volume of spam reaching AOL email inboxes has remained at low levels compared to it's height in late 2003, the spam that's out there is more insidious, crafty, devious, and dangerous than ever," Charles Stiles, AOL's postmaster who helps direct its spam-fighting unit, said in a statement.
AOL has found that the amount of spam reaching its subscribers' email boxes declined more than 75 percent this year, compared to the 2003 peak. The company said it blocked an average of 1.5 billion spam messages each day. The total number of emails blocked was more than 556 billion, a slight increase over last year.
AOL attributed the overall reduction to consumer software tools, spam filtering technology, public policy, litigation and enforcement, and industry partnerships.
The list of the top 10 subject lines, starting with No. 1, were: Donald Trump Wants You - Please Respond; Double Standards New Product - Penis Patch; Body Wrap: Lose 6-20 inches in one hour; Get an Apple iPod Nano, PS3 or Xbox 360 for Free; It's Lisa, I must have sent you to the wrong site; Breaking Stock News** Small Cap Issue Poised to Triple; Thank you for your business. Shipment notification; Your Mortgage Application is Ready; Thank you: Your $199 Rolex Special Included; and Online Prescriptions Made Easy.