Can You Identify Actual SPAM Texts? (We Bet Not)


The reality is, there are a lot of bad texts out there.

And if you don’t take steps to differentiate yourself from those messages, then you could very easily be on the kind of list we’re about to share.

Here are nine text messages from our (Eli Robinson, Scott Ginsberg, Eli Rosenthal) actual mobile phones. We’re going to make a case why all of them could be considered as spam. 

Then at the end, we will reveal which ones are actually spam. See if you can identify the difference!

Message 1: The Virtual Expo

This first text waves multiple red flags for spam. 

First of all, I don’t know this phone number.

Secondly, I have no record of the virtual business expo. 

Third, my phone’s default security notification has been activated, including the option to block this number.

How could this person expect me to respond to a message like this?

Message 2: The Big Election

Obviously, there were tons of SPAM texts around election season. 

Notice the end of the text includes the absolutely awful part where it includes the unsubscribe command, “STOP=end” and link, which we’ve said a million times makes for unresponsive texts.

Also, there’s no reason for me to respond to this message.

What’s in it for me?

Message 3: The Misinformation Conspiracy

First of all, this was obviously a name that wasn’t me, which immediately invalidates anything that this person is trying to do. 

Plus, it seems that if misinformation about our democracy is rampant, a very message like this seems like part of the problem.

The irony is not lost on me.

Message 4: The Delivery Guy


I mean, I love getting gifts as much as anyone else. And since I order so many items online, it’s hard to keep track of which one is en route.

But is this really my delivery guy? Joe almost seems too obvious of a name to be real. It’s not Bob, but they could have tried harder and taken it up a notch in specificity to Charlie or Randy.

Overall, this message almost looks like a real text, but something tells me that link is not going to redirect me to the UPS website.

Also, who is delivering packages at 3:30 in the morning?

Message 5: The Doctor Alert

This one is fascinating. The short code leads us to believe that it's not spam. Which is hilarious.

And in fact, more than half a million people have signed up to a newly launched service called Dr. B in an attempt to snag a vaccine, and reduce the number of doses that might end up in the trash. 

This leads me to believe somebody signed up for these alerts with my number.

Message 6: The Missed Vaccine

Exactly sixteen minutes after receiving the previous text on this list, I received this one.

As a writer and marketer, I appreciate what they’re going for here. Trying to trigger my fear of missing out (on a vaccine) to stimulate the scarcity response, but then giving me one last chance to rejoin to create urgency. 

Game respects game. It’s right out of the marketing persuasion playbook. 

But unfortunately for Dr. B, FOMO doesn’t work on me, because I’m 41 years old and regret is a punishment I no longer choose to administer to myself.

Message 7: The Second Placer

My guess is that spamming companies probably have a data set that shows that including the phrase “You won!” triggers people’s spam response.

That’s why they go with “You came in 2nd." Dale Earnhardt famously once said, “second place is just the first loser,” and clicking on this horrible spammy link would certainly make me feel like one.

For some spammers it seems that the whole goal is to get people to click on links. There is a curiosity there, and I have to admit that I’m always morbidly curious. What lies behind the door?

The problem, I know, is that these links are almost certainly unique to me, so even opening an incognito tab on my computer, and entering the URL manually, will alert these spammers that I’m liable to open these links. 

I don’t want to be on whatever list that is.

Message 8: The Lab Partner

Here’s a wild one from years ago. 

That’s the name of a woman who was my lab partner in college (I edited it out). We have not been in touch in years. I sent her this screenshot, and she asked me what was behind the link.

I don’t usually click on these sorts of links, but I acquiesced. The link had her Facebook profile photo, on a page with a nude photograph, that was certainly not her body, with the face cropped out. 

Red flashing text read “Photos and Videos will Self Destruct in 25:00 minutes” as the timer ticked down. 24:59… 58… 57. Lower on the page there is a “warning.”

“Warning! These are private videos and photos for Eli Rosenthal.”

If there was more on the page, I didn’t see it, and I’d guess it has long since self-destructed by now.

Message 9: The New Job

I’m not sure which texts are more compelling, the ones that use my real name, or the ones that pique my interest by making me think there’s some nugget available that wasn’t meant for me.

What are the possible scenarios that triggered this message? I’d like to believe that out there, Gus got a new job, and is getting his uniform embroidered. Or something like that. The link will let him know when it’s ready for pickup.

Congrats Gus on the next chapter in your professional life, but this message has no relevance to me.

To recap, here are the nine real life text messages we received. 

Message 1: The Virtual Expo
Message 2: The Big Election
Message 3: The Misinformation Conspiracy
Message 4: The Delivery Guy
Message 5: The Doctor Alert
Message 6: The Missed Vaccine
Message 7: The Second Placer
Message 8: The Lab Partner
Message 9: The New Job

Could you identify actual SPAM texts? We bet not, so here are the results:

They’re all SPAM!

Even if some of these were earnestly meant for someone else, they are all unwanted garbage pouring into our phones.

This little SPAM identification game further proves two truths about modern messaging:

  1. There are a lot of bad texts out there
  2. If you don’t take steps to differentiate yourself from those messages, then you might end up on our next list.

If you want to send out fast, personal and clickable text messages that earn you the right to have real conversations with your leads, contact us now.

And if we don’t hear from you by 5:00pm today, we’ll assign your vaccine to someone else.

Message will Self Destruct in 3, 2, 1...

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