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Free Blackberry Storm for Forwarding Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen


Message claims that Blackberry is giving away free phones to those who forward the email to eight or more people.

Brief Analysis

The claims in the message are untrue. Blackberry is not giving away free phones to those who forward an email. The message is a new version of an old hoax that has previously targeted Nokia, Sony Ericsson and others.


Subject: FW: Blackberry Storm Promotion

Blackberry Giveaway Hoax

Dear All,

Blackberry is giving away free phones as part of their promotional drive.

All you need to do is send a copy of this email to 8 people; and you will receive your phone in less than 24 hrs. Please note that if you send to more than 20 people you will receive two phones.

Please do not forget to send a copy to:

With Regards,

Amanda Lee (Marketing Manager)


Detailed Analysis

This message claims that the recipient will get a free Blackberry simply by sending the email to eight other people. And, supposedly, if the recipient sends the message to more than twenty people, he or she will be given not one but two Blackberry phones. According to the message, the giveaway is part of a Blackberry “promotional drive”. The participant is instructed to send a copy of the email to a marketing manager at Blackberry at the same time that he or she forwards it to the eight or twenty friends. Some newer versions of the email contain photographs of supposed winners holding up their Blackberry “prize”.

However, the claims in the message are untrue. Blackberry certainly will not be handing out free products in exchange for forwarding an email. In fact, the message is yet another variant of a long-running series of hoax messages that claim that recipients can get free products just for forwarding an email. Emails sent to the marketing manager email address specified in the message are returned with a “recipient address rejected: user unknown” error.

Moreover, this email hoax is having a detrimental impact on the reputation of a person who happens to have the same name and occupation as that listed in the message. The real Amanda Lee who is a marketing manager in the IT industry in South Africa is concerned that her name is being circulated in a false association with this hoax message. Amanda Lee has no connection whatsoever with the hoax message and does not work for Blackberry. Her name was added to the hoax without her permission or knowledge. Thus, those who send on this absurd and ridiculous hoax message are not only helping to distribute utterly pointless nonsense but are also inadvertently helping to damage the reputation of a real person who has done nothing wrong.

Another widely circulated version of the hoax falsely claims that Ericsson is giving free laptop computers to those who send on the message:

The Ericsson Company is distributing free computer lap-tops in an attempt to match Nokia that has already done so. Ericsson hopes to increase its popularity this way. For this reason, they are giving away the new WAP Laptops. All you need to qualify is to send this mail to 8 people you know. Within 2 weeks, you will receive Ericcson T18. But if you can send it to 20 people or more, you will receive Ericsson R320.

Make sure to send a copy to:

And an even earlier version claims that Nokia is giving forwarders free mobile phones:

Nokia Is Giving Away Phones For “FREE”!!

Nokia is trying word-of-mouth advertising to introduce its products.And the reward you receive for advertising for them is a phone free of cost! To receive your free phone all you need to do is send this email out to 8 people (for a free Nokia 6210) or to 20 people (for a free Nokia WAP).Within 2 weeks you will receive a free phone. (They contact you via your email address).

You must send a copy to

Thus it seems clear that some prankster has simply taken an older version of the hoax and repurposed it so that it targets Blackberry rather than Nokia or Sony Ericsson and tacked on a picture of a Blackberry for good measure.

Many other hoaxes make the absurd claim that a recipient can get free products, services, vouchers or cash just for sending on an email. The tactic is a favourite ruse of Internet pranksters because it virtually guarantees that their ridiculous messages will not only spread far and wide, but will very often continue to circulate for months or even years after they are launched.

Of course, many companies do run promotional campaigns that offer participants the chance to gain free or heavily discounted products or services. However, no legitimate company is ever likely to run a promotion based on the random and uncontrolled forwarding of an email. Real promotions will always include or link to documents that clearly specify such things as start and end dates for the promotion, legal terms pertaining to the promotion and detailed conditions of entry. Hoaxes such as this supposed Blackberry promotion never include limiting factors such as conclusion dates or entry conditions. Therefore, a company foolish enough to lend itself to such an absurd promotional campaign might ultimately find itself obligated to hand over thousands of laptops or phones – an outcome that could potential lead to economic ruin for that company . Thus, it is laughable to suggest that any company would engage in such an ill conceived promotional tactic.

Any message that claims that you can get something – be it free products or services, vouchers, gifts, competition entries or cash – just for forwarding an email is virtually certain to be a hoax. If you receive such a message, please do not further the spread of such nonsense by passing it on to others  

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Brett Christensen