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French Spam and Hidden Heritage

French Face - photo by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³

It’s funny how one doesn’t need to speak the language to recognize spam.

Got this in my email today. This is after my email information was stolen in a large-scale hack on numerous companies recently. I wonder why the Yahoo! spam filter didn’t catch it… I suppose it has to do with the language.

I also sometimes wonder if I get sent French spam because of my name. I’m told “Christine” and “Cavalier” are both common French names. One time I was waiting in line in Epcot Center in Disney World in Orlando, Florida, USA, and this middle-aged couple with teenaged kids started speaking to me in French. I stood there, dumbfounded, like a typical American. “Uhhh, I’m so sorry!” I said. “I don’t speak French!” The couple apologized. They had seen my name on my park pass (which was hanging around my neck) and they assumed I was French.

Every French person I’ve ever met has said I look French. An exchange student in college named Denis was so convinced I was French that he insisted that I didn’t know my own heritage. “Seriously, Denis,” I’d tell him. “No French. Italian, Irish, Romanian, Polish/Russian. That’s it.” “You are American” Denis would say. “You Americans lose your history. You are French.” My boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband) hated Denis. LOL.

OK, Denis and Random Couple in Disney World, maybe I’m French. But I don’t need to speak French to figure out “Désactivation” and “carte de crédit.” French banks, like all other legit banks, don’t send emails asking for security information. They own the information and YOU have to ask THEM for it, not the other way around. Always remember this.

Even if you aren’t French like me, take a gander at the spam email below. It won’t take you long to parse out the spamminess of it. Make sure to keep those “spam detector” skills sharp!

-Christine Cavalier

Désactivation de votre carte de crédit.

Bonjour .

Nous venons de désactiver votre carte de crédit.

Pour le réactiver, vous devez vous connecter sur le site de La Banque Postale et accéder à votre espace sécurisé de Banque en Ligne via le lien ci-dessous en saisissant vos identifiant et mot de passe ainsi que votre carte de crédit.
La procédure est très simple :

Cliquez sur le lien ci-dessous pour ouvrir une fenêtre de navigateur sécurisée.
Confirmez que vous êtes bien le titulaire du compte et suivez les instructions.

Accéder à votre compte (<-disabled link) Ce = Message est généré automatiquement, ne répondez pas à l'expéditeur. Si vous n'êtes pas destinataire(s) de ce message, merci de le détruire. La Banque Postale, Société Anonyme à Directoire et Conseil de Surveillance, au capital de 2 342 454 090 euros Siège social : 115, rue de Sèvres - 75275 Paris Cedex 06 - RCS Paris 421 100 645 - Code A.P.E 6419Z.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Otir 8 April 2011, 9:37 am

    The thing is, it has as many grammar mistakes as the English or American spams. I don’t know why spammers always have such brains as to be good hackers, but poor syntax or grammar. Any clue?

    • PurpleCar 8 April 2011, 9:41 am

      Hi Otir!

      Thanks for the head’s up on the grammar mistakes. Bad grammar is a glaring clue
      in helping to determine if an email is spam.

      My experience is that the spammers are not native speakers, of whatever language
      they are spamming in. So my guess is that these people only have a working
      knowledge of French, are sending them to American audiences in hopes that a
      foreign “bank” email will alarm them enough to click on the link. This probably
      works, I’m sure, as most spam does, to a certain extent. I’m trying to get out
      there and educate people so they know how to protect themselves against clever
      ploys like this. Thanks for helping out!



      • Otir 8 April 2011, 10:03 am

        I love how you are educating people, especially with all the traps and tricks that make them wary of the Internet as if it was a “dangerous” place. It is not more dangerous than anywhere else, and it is true that because it is relatively new, there are lots of things that need learning.

        It reminds me of the times (which I didn’t know of! I am not THAT old) when people were discovering the automobile. I don’t believe at the time there were driving schools and they were learning while using their brand new monster!

        As to this email, (which is more like a “phishing” scam, I would say, than a pure “spam”), even if people don’t know grammar or don’t pay attention, the first clue into the illegitimate attempt, is “Bonjour .” If you are a respected customer of a bank, French courtesy demands that you be called out with a beautiful “Madame Cavalier” !! 🙂 and preferably a “Chère” in front of it.

        (And I don’t go into the shocking detail of the space before the period, I am really too nitty-picky). So right after the first word, I already know that I am spammed when I receive this email. (I wonder why they chose La Banque Postale, who does not seem to be amongst the clients who were exposed to the recent email security breach).

        • PurpleCar 8 April 2011, 4:48 pm

          Is Banque Postale even a real bank? I went to the domain and it is just a domain
          squatter there.

          Yes, this is phishing, but that term isn’t really taking off. Also, most spam is
          now phishing, so I think “spam” will win out. People just don’t seem to have
          room for the “phishing” term yet, or, if ever.

          Good to know about the “madame” part. Makes sense!


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