Are Carmaker Sites Using Hybrids (Ineptly) As Spam Bait?

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image from hybrid-car spam

image from hybrid-car spam

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We get a lot of spam. Everyone gets a lot of spam. In fact, Symantec says nine of every 10 e-mail messages are spam.

But we're scratching our head over a recent spam that uses the topic of hybrid cars, particularly clumsily, to link (via Dubai, no less) to real carmakers' hybrid, diesel, and electric car sites.

Shouldn't they use actual...hybrids?

The e-mail we received carried the subject line, "Drive Smarter. Drive Hybrid." We opened it immediately. Hey, that's one of our most popular topics here at GreenCarReports.com, right?

We noticed a few puzzling features: the primitive typography, the clunky, not-quite-English copywriting, and a drawing of...a 2009 Smart ForTwo ? ? ?

Right. A Smart ForTwo isn't a hybrid-electric vehicle at all. Hmmmm.

Then it struck us: Could this be a drawing of the Chinese car to be sold in the US as the Wheego Whip? Wait, that's an electric car, not a hybrid either. Hmmmm again.

Links to...real automakers

We persevered. At the bottom was a line in small type, pointing out that "This is an advertisement," with the name and address of Parada Enterprises of Littleton, Colorado.

Remarkably, that company appears nowhere in Google. The phone of a Houston company of the same name is now answered by a company called Guardian Interlock. Hmmmm once again.

The e-mail return address was a site called GreatPurchaseOnline.com. Oddly, when we clicked on the e-mail image, it sent us to a page of hybrid-car text links on Insights1.com, a completely different site with a contact address in Dubai.

Take a deep breath, and click

And then "Hybrid Cars," the first one, sent us to ... a General Motors vehicle search site with hybrid cars highlighted!

The second one, "Audi Hybrid Alternative," went to Audi's TDI site touting its new clean diesel vehicles, the 2010 Audi A3 TDI and 2010 Audi Q7 TDI. OK, they're viable hybrid alternatives.

In the end, the Insight1 page linked to carmaker sites from Ford (2010 Ford Escape Hybrid and 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid), Honda (2010 Honda Insight), Mini (the non-hybrid, electric Mini E), as well as various vehicle search pages on other sites.

Say it ain't so!

This left us rather puzzled. Frankly, we expected "hybrid" to be the latest spam-bait for the usual ads touting herbal supplements, money-transfer scams, and massive male-member medicines.

So we're left with a number of questions:

Could it really be possible that online agencies for GM, Ford, Honda, Audi, and Mini pay a third-party marketer in Dubai to spam hybrid-car info out to anyone they can reach?

If so, is it even worth pointing out that they're using a totally wrong image?

Can spammer Parada actually make any noticeable money from its share of clickthroughs to Insight1's pages, which in turn presumably get a few pennies for clickthroughs to the auto sites?

And do GM, Ford, Honda, et al know they get online hybrid inquiries via a Dubai site reached from spam using a bad drawing of a Chinese non-hybrid car?

Do they care?

Hybrid spam, done right

We don't know the answers to these questions. But we invite your thoughts and comments, below.

Meanwhile, in other hybrid mass-mailing news, Verizon is giving away a 2010 Toyota Prius as the grand prize in a contest to encourage its customers to "go green" by switching to paperless billing.

Hey, at least a Prius is actually a hybrid. That's a start.

hybrid car green promotion from Verizon

hybrid car green promotion from Verizon

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