Monday, November 1, 2010

You can't fix stupid

This post has nothing to do with wireless.

Somewhere, out there on the Internet, is a stupid family.  Quelle surprise, non?  Tell us something we don't know, you say.  But this is no ordinary stupid family.

Many years ago (back when the Internet was powered by steam engines which ran on barrels of kerosene) I signed up for a Yahoo account.  I chose my username based on a nickname given to me by a friend, and one I had used for my circa 1996 "homepage" which was a sophomoric collection of links, graphics, and sounds used to stake my claim to a corner of the nascent Internet.  Unfortunately my Yahoo username happens to be the last name of a stupid family.  I'll refer to them as "The Stupids". 

A few years later I started getting junk mail at my Yahoo address from a variety of sources; car dealerships, online car broker services, etc.  Apparently the Mama Stupid wanted to buy a new car, and had given my Yahoo address as hers.  The emails had a lot of information about Mama Stupid; her name, street address, phone, etc.  The amount of junk mail became painful, over a dozen messages a day; I had to activate a filter in Yahoo Mail to look for keywords and dump them straight to Trash.  10 years later, if I look in my Yahoo Mail trash folder, there are still car dealerships trying to contact Mama Stupid.

Papa Stupid has done likewise.  I've received over the years email from online shopping, stock brokers, get-rich-quick scammers, insurance brokers, magazine publishers, requests for donations, links to photos of newly-arrived Baby Stupid.  Again; I get a LOT of personal info on the Stupids from this.  A while back Mama Stupid decided she needed some spice in her life, so she signed up for an online casual fling hook-up service.  (I'm not kidding.)  She (I) started getting email from middle-aged men looking for some "Afternoon Delight", complete with photos intended to "sell the product" if you get my meaning.  Icanhazeyebleach?

In many cases I get requests to confirm my address for an account on whatever system the Stupids have tried to sign up for, I can then reset the password and basically do as I please.  Most of the time I change the password and then close the account. 

I've watched the Stupids build a family.  Their son (Stupid Junior) started out years ago using my Yahoo address as his "parental permission" email to sign up for online games.  As time's gone on I've watched his game interests evolve into more mature themes. Once he hits puberty I fully expect a lot of porn site account confirmation emails.  Their oldest daughter Missy Stupid just went to college in Florida.  I got some pictures from Disneyworld.  She looks happy.

You can imagine the amount of spam I receive because of the Stupids.  I've given up using Yahoo for email, simply because 99% of what I get is spam caused by the Stupids inability to figure out that lastname@something.com doesn't automatically route to their house.  I've been tempted to close the account, but in some bizarre way I feel like I need to continue.  What will happen next?  Will Papa Stupid have a midlife crisis and go looking for a red sports car?  Will Missy Stupid get knocked up and have to come home from college?  It's like my own private soap opera.

2 comments:

Julian said...

I have a similar story. Years ago I signed up for a Gmail account for personal use. As an early adopter of Gmail I was able to have the address my.name@gmail.com.

Some time later someone in New Zealand with the same name as me registered a Gmail account with the name my.name2@gmail.com. He must be an architect or something and used this account for business. Unfortunately many of his clients didn't notice the 2 when typing his address so I got invitations to meetings, emails with attached copies of plans, all kinds of things. I kept forwarding the emails back to the sender but I kept on receiving them until one day I was in a bad mood and got very angry...

Someone else here in the UK managed to register with a rail ticket purchasing site using my email address. How he did that I don't know, since most sites require a confirmation from the address you used before validating an account. The emails I received showed where he lived, his credit card details (including the last 4 digits) and details of all the trips he made away from home. I was able to find out his exact address by Googling his name and town, and sent him a letter by post, after which he soon fixed the problem.

I never have this problem with my ham radio email address because it contains my callsign.

Steve GW7AAV said...

Love the story, I have had similar myself and also once did something similar to the Stupids. I had an email account, which was my surname proceeded by my first initial. I also had another account with my previous ISP which had a full stop between the initial and the surname. I had ordered a new PC and all the confirmation stuff when to someone with the same name. Fortunately with my surname it was a distant cousin who found me quickly and I was able to correct the email after just one.