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.