A Critical Analysis of Financial Fraud Spam in English in Terms of Persuasive Strategies: Personalization, Presupposition, and Lexical Choices

Document Type : Research Paper


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The term ‘spam’ addresses unsolicited emails sent in bulk; therefore, the term
‘financial fraud spam’ refers to unwanted bulk emails in which different tricks and techniques are
employed to swindle money from the recipients. Estimates show that more than 80% of worldwide
email traffic in 2011 was spam. It should be noted that while the number of daily spam emails in
2002 was 2.4 billion, this number rose to 200 billion spam emails in 2011. Considering the
incurred cost of spam emails, finding effective ways for identifying spam emails may help
decrease the cost to a great extent. It must be borne in mind that the generators of the financial
fraud spam emails employ intricate persuasive strategies that make their stories believable to the
readers. In an attempt to unravel some of these persuasive strategies, the present paper focuses on
the use of presupposition, personalization, and lexical choice that are frequently used by the
generators of the financial fraud spam emails. The results of the analysis showed that the above
mentioned persuasive strategies were widely used in the text of financial fraud spam emails.
Furthermore, the study demonstrated that persuasive lexical devices were used throughout the
spam emails, including the email addresses. In terms of personalization and presupposition, the
study showed that all parts of the spam emails, except the address section, were subjected to the
use of these persuasive strategies.