Hoax e-mail IT and Library Services

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

What can you do about it?

  • Be vigilant: common features of hoax emails include:
  • A request to forward it on to multiple people.
  • Claims which sound realistic but which you can't confirm.
  • Exaggerations and urgency: ‘the WORST ever' or ‘act NOW or lose out FOR EVER!!!'.
  • Name dropping which can't be confirmed: ‘Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt/Top international bankers rely on this every day....'.
  • Emotional manipulation ‘Need cash? Make £1000 in 2 hours', ‘A small child is desperately ill and only you can help'.
Keep them to yourself: don't forward any of these types of email, just delete them.

Ignore them: If you receive one from someone you know, just ignore it or maybe even point them in the direction of a reputable source of advice about hoax emails.