According to this message, the recipient’s Hotmail account will be deactivated or deleted if he or she does not forward the email to a number of other people. However, the claims in the message are untrue and the email is not from Hotmail’s management.
In fact, the message is a long-running hoax that has spawned dozens of variants since it first began circulating back in 1999. As well as spreading via email, the hoax also makes its way around the world via instant messaging and social networking websites
Like a lot of hoaxes, this one banks on the fact that many people will hit the “forward” button without analyzing the information very deeply. Even if Hotmail was “running out of resources”, it certainly would not attempt to remedy the problem by asking customers to forward an email. Hotmail, or any other webmail system, would not employ such a vague, hit and miss method of checking on the status of account holders. It seems likely that such services have sophisticated and precise methods of checking the activity levels of accounts that do not require the account holder to reply to or forward a specific message.
Although the above example is aimed at Hotmail, variations of the hoax have also targeted Yahoo and AIM instant messaging customers.
Phishing scammers have used similar “account closure” warnings as a means of tricking recipients into disclosing their account login and other personal details.
Information about other versions of the hoax:
- Another Hotmail Account Closure Hoax Email
- MSN Shutdown Hoax
- MSN 18 Contacts Hoax
- AOL 100,000 Signatures Hoax
- Yahoo Account Deletion Hoax
READ THE PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT TO KEEP YOUR HOTMAIL ACCOUNT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dear Hotmail User,
Because of the sudden rush of people signing up to Hotmail, it has come to our attention that we are vastly running out of resources. So, within a month’s time, anyone who does not receive this email with the exact subject heading, will be deleted off our server. Please forward this email so that we know you are still using this account.
We want to find out which users are actually using their Hotmail accounts. So if you are using your account, please pass this e-mail to every Hotmail user that you can and if you do not pass this letter to anyone we will delete your account.
Subject: Fwd: Warning – Hotmail users
WARNING WARNING Hotmail is overloading and we need to get rid of some people and we want to find out which users are actually using their Hotmail accounts. So if you are using your account, please pass this e-mail to every Hotmail user that you can and if you do not pass this letter to anyone we will delete your account.
From Mr. Jon Henerd
Hotmail Admin. Dept.
A version that targets Yahoo:
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!