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“Dangers” of stock photography

Stock photos are professional photographs that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes. They are a cost-effective method for designers to obtain professional photos and images without the costs of hiring a photographer directly.

When you purchase a certain photo this way, you have to be aware that it doesn’t belong to you and only you. As a matter of fact others can also buy it and use it for their own purposes, and isn’t it a bummer when somebody uses the same photo, or the one from the same series, you used.

Well, I noticed just that while I was researching about spam and drugs. One of the spammer Web sites for selling drugs used a stock photo, to complement their design, from the same series as did Medical News Today. Medical News Today is, or at least they claim to be, the largest independent health and medical news website on the Internet, and on their site you can find many articles warning about dangerous of drugs sold through spam messages. Well, it made me laugh, cause it was kinda ironic. Check out the screen shots.

Medical News Today
Medical News Today

Pharmacy Express – Spammer Web site for selling drugs
Spam drug selling website

Did you notice the pretty lady? She can be in different places at the same time, selling illegal drugs or bring you the latest medical news.

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Drugs from your inbox

Spam, or unsolicited e-mail, is everywhere and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it will never go away, at least not until people keep buying the stuff spammers offer. And oh boy aren’t there always some new suckers in the cyberspace. However, things get far less amusing when human health gets into play. Have you noticed that a high percentage of spam you receive today is health-related?

It is just this health-related spam that Peter Gernburd and Alejandro Jadad from the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation from Canada wanted to find out more about. In September 2007 issue of PLoS Medicine, an open-access, peer-reviewed medical journal, they published a very interesting paper on this subject titled “Will Spam Overwhelm Our Defenses? Evaluating Offerings for Drugs and Natural Health Products”E/mail spam selling drugs
In their research they used three e-mail accounts, unfiltered for spam, to gather all the spam they could get in the period of one month. Among all the received spam messages, they picked out the health-related ones, defined as those which included offers of interventions that could modify a physical, cognitive, behavioral, or emotional state in humans (e.g., medications, natural health products, devices, or professional services). All Web links included in such messages were further analyzed.

During the study period researchers received 4,153 spam messages, out of which 1,334 or 32% were health related. Majority of these messages (73%) were sent from the United States.

Scientists tried to order prescription drugs and natural health products from Web sites advertised in these messages. Online drugsEventually, they received 9 orders (5 prescription drugs and 4 natural health products). Some of the products they managed to buy where Clalis (for erectile dysfunction), Tramadol (for pain), Valium and Xanax (for anxiety and other disorders). There was no report of any evidence of credit card abuse by the spammers, except for one undelivered product.

What the study lacked, but authors promised to report on in the near future, was the analysis of the actual purchased pharmaceutical products to reveal whether they are genuine, fakes, and most importantly are they dangerous.

You can read the complete paper on PLoS Medicine Web site.

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