Are you dead? Please reply at once!

There’s so much unreconstructed spam these days – old-school spam which doesn’t make the slightest attempt to disguise its outrageous bogosity – that it takes something really special to catch one’s attention.

Finding amusing examples is a little like searching for a stalk of hay in a haystack.

But Naked Security readers are nothing if not perspicacious, and one of our readers, who may or may not be called Michael, told us about a spam he’d received which really does warrant attention.

“We are writing,” it starts off redundantly, “to know if you are DEAD.”

Actually, it doesn’t say writing. It says writhing, which is either a spelling mistake or a Twainesque figure of speech to express just how keen the writers really are. One imagines them squirming on the edges of their seats, waiting for your reply.

The writers have an interesting approach to life after death. They clearly entertain the likelihood of internet access in the afterlife, but of a read-only sort. In other words, they accept that if you are dead, you’ll probably get the email, but won’t be able to reply. “If it happened we did not hear from you after 7 days,” they say comfortingly, “MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE.”

(This raises some interesting technotheological questions. If there is an earth-to-heaven TCP router, what do the firewall rules look like?)

Of course, despite the wackiness of this spam, some recipients may be tempted to reply. Some will consider this sort of thing worthy of spambaiting: deliberately writing back to the scammers with something witty, outrageous, insulting or timewasting.

Others may be frightened into replying “just in case” – not giving any personal details, but simply so they have something on record to show that they responded. After all, the spam implies that someone else – Mr Fricklin, in this case – is trying to initiate a scam involving you.

Please don’t respond for either reason. Scammers and fraudsters of this sort have your worst interests at heart. Their business depends on replies. So don’t give them any. Not seriously, and not in jest.

Any sort of reply gives them the will to continue. Silence, in a spammer’s inbox, is our most golden result.