‘Mark as Scam’ for Gmail

As a result of some emails my wife and I have received trying to run a scam against us while we try to sell Sammy’s car, I started thinking how someone less tech-savvy may fall for the scam, and came up with an idea that might help reduce the likelihood of the scam succeeding – we’ve all heard if SPAM filters, how ’bout adding a SCAM filter to our email?

With this in mind, I sent the following suggestion to the Gmail development team:

I would like to suggest a filter similar to the SPAM filter that detects and marks email as potential scams (these may currently be handled by the spam filter, but should be given more weight as they aren’t simply an annoyance, they pose a financial threat too).

A choice of filtering email in with the spam or leaving it in the inbox would be useful too – the ability to have email marked as a potential scam, but still have it appear in the inbox would allow the filter to be more aggressive than the current spam filter.

Along with this, a “Mark as a SCAM” button would allow users to identify scam email, improving the filter. If marking an email as a scam was added to the user’s classification set with a strong ‘SCAM’ rating, and also contributed to a global classification set, possibly with a weaker ‘SCAM’ rating, then the power of the filter would be greatly increased, effectively cloud-sourcing the identification of scams.

This could be taken further, and a system to allow the email marked as scams to be forwarded to a local government group or something similar based on the settings in the user’s account. For example, I live in Perth, Western Australia, and have that information on my Google Account profile, so a button that said “Report to ScamNet” and forwarded the email to “[email protected]” when clicked could be added to the banner that indicates the email could be a scam, allowing the relevant authority to be informed of the potential scam (this would probably require some co-operation with the individual organizations to prevent them from getting flooded with SPAM or too many identical reports).

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