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Computing and Information Services

Hoax emails

A modern take on the old ‘chain letter', the purpose of these mails is to collect email addresses and the content will be designed to prompt a wide circulation. This can include:

  • A ‘helpful' warning about a virus (fake) and quite often from someone ‘once removed' (e.g. ‘..this happened to a friend of mine and I was so concerned that I thought I should let you know....').
  • Offering a free gift, voucher or cash for forwarding the email (these can also be pyramid schemes that promise unfeasibly huge amounts of money if the message is forwarded to enough people).
  • An emergency request from a charity: these are more prominent after genuine disasters, so if you do want to make a donation, don't click on any of the links within the mail, go to the charity directly. Use Google or Yahoo to find the genuine website.
  • An appeal on behalf of someone who is ill or in trouble (stranded far from home with lost documents and no cash).
  • Straight-forward chain letters.
  • Malicious emails that damage the reputation of an individual.

Take a look at our 'How to help youself' page to find out more.