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A common trick is to have a plain text version and an HTML variant of the email (many clients send this way too). Most email clients display the "richer" HTML by default.
The extra characters are hidden using the HTML, or CSS, so that the majority of recipients will read their content.
The plain text version and the HTML version must be substantially identical in appaernt content, or some filtering programs will realise the discrepency and block the content.
I haven't had a v spam in my mailbox for months - they all go straight to my spam box.
But gmail filters are much better than most, as spam reports actually get used to develop the filters.
What kind of idiot buys chalk dust labelled as v anyway? Do they really still catch a single moron?
Seems hard to believe :)