Terrible Ideas Hackathon - ScamSpamEmail

I have recently gotten along to a number of hackathons at the University of Auckland. Before COVID I would attend hackathons regular in person. During COVID I tried doing some online, but really it wasn't the same. It's great to be in Auckland where things are pretty much back to normal.

One of the hackathons that I attended was the Terrible Ideas Hackathon. I had an idea before attending - so just needed a few team members.

During the pizza dinner I met Lucy who was a linguistics student - she joined my team. Lucy wasn't technical but was able to help out with ideas, validation and slides for presenting.

After dinner we met Daniel - a developer with a focus towards the frontend. This was perfect for me as I prefer to focus on backend.

Though I did pitch my idea to those looking for a group it ended up with just the three of us. Myself, Lucy, and Daniel. Three is a good number - don't want too many cooks in the room.

My idea was to build something around this software I use on my computer called ActivityWatch - which keeps track of websites I visit.  It has a API which allows access to this data. Along with a bunch of other random person / location / business / currency APIs develop a app with generates a spamming looking email which could be used to attempt to scam someone - in this case myself.

We had much discussion over the body of the text - wanting to make it as random as posible. Deciding on what services we could use to generate the random aspects

  • Currencyfreaks - for a random currency.
  • ActivityWatch - for getting URL that victim had visited. This was one of the most imporant apis that was used, everything else just makes it more interesting.
  • randomuser - for random generate of person / location.
  • Au Business List - for getting a random business name.

So as I was writing this blogpost it seems I failed to commit my final code, and though I backed up my laptop which I worked on this code with - it's an older version. I didn't have much plans with continuing with the project - but it is disappointed.

With the code ended up sending the email with Daniels frontend (which he built in React). He used a framework called EmailJS which was okay, but if I was to use email in code in future - I would do it in the backend as I have more control.

Here's the screenshot of the email that is being sent:

example scam email

As you can see the name, location, business, currency are all being randomly generated.

And finally the code:

I used GIN for the webserver which allowed Daniels frontend to generate the email body text with his frontend.

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wmckee by William Mckee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.