Home Hoaxes MSN 18 Contacts Hoax

MSN 18 Contacts Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

These hoax messages are just more variants in a long line of similar hoaxes that warn that MSN is about to start charging for its free services. They also claim that the MSN user’s account will be closed unless he or she forwards the message on to 18 or more people.

From time to time, pranksters come up with an updated and equally untrue version of the message that includes a new deadline set for a date in the near future. Another version began circulating back in 2005 and is still hitting inboxes several years on. Even earlier versions have specifically targeted Hotmail users.

All versions are equally nonsensical and have no basis in fact. If MSN was considering implementing a charge for its standard MSN Messenger and email services, it would certainly not base its decision on how many times a particular message was sent to others. Such claims are simply ridiculous.

And, even in the vastly improbable event that MSN somehow only had 578 names available, it certainly would not attempt to remedy the problem by asking customers to forward an email. Online services such as MSN 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. While online service providers may sometimes choose to delete accounts that have not been active for long periods, they do not force clients to send on ridiculous email messages if they wish to keep their account open. Generally, just logging on to one’s online account from time to time will be enough to keep it active.

The “warnings” advise recipients to go to www.msn.com and “see for yourself”. However, there is nothing on the MSN site that confirms the story in any way.

Some versions of the hoax also include a link to an old BBC news article that, at first glance, seems to give credence to the claims in the message. However, a closer examination of the article quickly reveals that it, in fact, does not confirm the claims in the hoax message in any way. Firstly, the BBC article was published back in 2001, and therefore has no relevance to current events whatsoever. Secondly, the article discusses Microsoft’s intention to start charging an optional fee for enhanced MSN and Hotmail services. And, in fact, Microsoft did indeed begin offering MSN customers access to extra services for a fee a number of years ago. However, as very clearly stated in the BBC article, Microsoft had no intention of charging customers for core MSN or Hotmail services and it has never done so.
Unfortunately, it seems that many recipients of the hoax email take only a brief glance at the linked BBC article’s headline and then forward on the nonsensical email in the mistaken belief that they have therefore verified its claims. If they were to take a few moments to actually read the BBC article and take note of its February 2001 publication date, they would quickly realize that it does not confirm the absurd claims in the hoax email in the slightest.

Like their many predecessors, these messages are pure nonsense. Forwarding them will do no more than clutter inboxes with more pointless junk.

Example:(Submitted, November 2009)

Hey, people.

Sorry to break the news, but looks like all of those warnings were real!!!!! 😮 !!! The use of MSN and e-mail will cost money from Summer 2009 onwards. If you Send this message to 18 different people from your list, your little MSN Icon will turn blue and that will make it free for you. If you don’t believe Me, go on to (www.msn.com) and see it yourself. Don’t forward this message, But copy and paste it so that people will actually read it!!!!!!

It is Andy and John – the directors of MSN – sorry for the interruption, but MSN is really closing down. This is because too many inconsiderate people Are taking up all the names (e.g.. Making up lots of different accounts for Just one person), and we are only left with 578 names.

If you would like to close your account, DO NOT SEND THIS MESSAGE ON. But, If you would like to keep your account, then SEND THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST. This is no joke, as we Will be shutting down the Servers. Send it on, thanks.


Hey everyone, I don’t normally send this sort of stuff out, but I had a Look on the Internet and its actually true that by the 30th November, we WILL have to pay for the use of our MSN and e-mail account(s), unless we Send this message to at least 18 contacts on our contact list.

It’s no joke, but if you don’t believe me, then you can see for yourself -Go to the site (http://news.BBC.co.UK/1/hi/business/1189119.stm) – and See For yourself

Example:(Submitted, February 2006)


Hey it is Andy and john the directors of MSN, sorry for the interruption but msn is closing down. this is because too many inconsiderate people are taking up all the name (eg making up lots of different accounts for just one person), we only have 578 names left. If you would like to close your account, DO NOT SEND THIS MESSAGE ON. If you would like to keep your account, then SEND THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST. This is no joke, we will be shutting down the servers. Send it on,

thanks. The use of msn and hotmail will cost money from summer 2006. If you send this message to 18 different people from your list your little icon will become blue and that will make it free for you. If you dont believe me go on (www.msn.com) and see it yourself. Dont foward this message copy paste it so people will actually read it.

Example:(Submitted, September 2005)

Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2005 22:41:43 +0000

On the 1st of november , we will have to pay for the use of our MSN and email accounts unless we send this message to at least 18 contacts on your contact list. It’s no joke if you don’t believe me then go to the site ( www.msn.com ) and see for yourself.

Anyways once you’ve sent this message to at least 18 contacts , your msn dude will become blue. please copy and paste don’t forward cos people won’t take notice of it otherwise plse do it

Importance Notice

After 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 You

I 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 Date

Hoax-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!

Brett Christensen,