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Terms related to pharmaceutical drugs and phishing scams topped the list of the most widely sent junk e-mail subject lines used by spammers this year, America Online Inc. said Wednesday.
Phishing, which is the use of bogus emails from banks and retailers to get consumers to reveal passwords, credit-card numbers and other personal information, rose to number two and three on the list, reflecting a significant increase in the fraudulent tactic, AOL said.
On the positive side, there was much less spam related to pornography this year than in 2003, according to AOL, a division of Time Warner Inc. The nation’s largest Internet service provider noted that the “flavor” of spam changed noticeably in 2004 from last year, when the most widely sent junk e-mail subject lines included “Oprah,” “Teens” and “Viagra.”
The favorite 2004 spam terms were related to online pharmacy items such as Vioxx, phishing, dubious mortgage deals and stock offers.
AOL, which bases its findings on spam reports sent by subscribers, said spammers this year became more sophisticated in their work.
“Gone are most small-time spammers, and what is left are the hardcore, kingpin spammers,” the company said in a statement.