I got my first Evite spam over the weekend.
Never seen one? Here.
As you can see, it's a straight-out scam. The sender, whose name was unfamiliar to me (which is why I waited two days to open it and checked the URL before I did) claims to be poor, claims to be needing charity, and asks for a contribution. (I really had a Clue when I got two copies of the e-mail -- my e-mail address appears twice on most commercial spam lists for some reason, so when I see two copies of anything I have a good idea what's coming.)
But as with the infamous green card spam that started it all, this is going to explode quickly, and probably take down sites such as Evite with it - unless they do something drastic.
A lot of people forget that the original Carter & Siegel spam didn't target e-mail at all, but Usenet. Anyone remember Usenet? Exactly. Usenet was an unmoderated set of forums that ran directly off the Internet backbone. Each one had its own Internet address, and was read, via an e-mail program, in its own section.
Once Usenet was polluted, the scammers went on to e-mail, destroying such things as my own e-mail newsletter, a-clue.com, in the process. (One big reason I moved it here was because the subscription list had been dropping steadily for years, as people dropped out because they couldn't filter it properly, or their corporate accounts insisted in filtering it out.)
This was followed by spam blogs -- do a search on Google's Blogsearch and you'll see tons of them. And the abuse of social networking sites like LinkedIn by scammers.
And now Evite spam.
Evite already had several protections built into it. You're supposed to put in a lot of personally-identifiable information in an invitation -- your address and telephone number for starters. If you try to send out a blind invitation, the system stops you and requires a host name and event date. But these can easily be forged.
The only thing I can think of right off to kill this would be to require registration before anyone gets to send out anything. And to place, in that registration, an assurance that this is a real person signing-up -- not just an e-mail address. That would be very costly. Which means no more free Evites.
But I'd be happy to hear your ideas.