You probably receive spam email messages every day and ignore them but have you ever imagined what would happen if you click on these links and actually buy Viagra? Would the Russian pharmacy stores ever ship you the drugs or do they just want your credit card details?

Viagra Spam Emails - The Journey

A team of researchers, studying the economics of email based spam, prepared a detailed report on how the whole system works and how much do spammers make from these transactions. The researchers made over 100 purchases at these spam-advertised pharmaceutical sites for the study, spending a few thousand dollars.

Here’s what will possibly happen when you buy something though a spam message (see how India plays a key role here):

  • The pharmacy website is registered in Russia, the DNS server is located in China but the site itself would be served through a proxy in Brazil.
  • When you complete the purchase, the payment is sent from your credit card to a bank in Azerbaijan.
  • The final order is fulfilled by a manufacturer in Chennai (India) who would then directly ship it to your address anywhere in the world.

The researchers found that there’s necessarily no fraud involved and they did get the Viagra they paid for though the counterfeit version. Update: The Viagra that is sent from India may not necessarily be counterfeit as originally pointed out but a generic version. Dan Sherman writes:

There is a distinction. Counterfeit denotes that the manufacturer duplicates the packaging and look of the actual brand made and sold by the original manufacturer. However, I would suspect that the customer receives a generic Indian brand that is the same ingredient, but has no similarity to the actual US brand and does not try to portray themselves as being the actual Pfizer version (or whoever the original brand manufacturer is.)

I guess it’s possible that there are nefarious manufacturers trying to trick people into thinking they’re buying Pfizer, but I suspect that is not the case as the punishments for that kind of activity in India are harsh and doing so is unnecessary since you can obtain perfectly legal generic V in India, easily.