This story was first published on 25th April 2008
Message warns that simply accepting an email from a sender called Simon Ashton (email@example.com) will allow him to hack your email account as well as the accounts of others on your email contact list.
The claims in the ‘warning’ are false. It is just one version in a long series of similar ‘hacker warning’ hoaxes and should not be taken seriously.
Subject: URGENT – PLEASE READ – NOT A JOKEIF A PERSON CALLED SIMON ASHTON CONTACTS YOU THROUGH EMAIL DON’T OPEN THE MESSAGE. DELETE IT BECAUSE HE IS A HACKER!!
TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS HIM THEN YOU WILL GET HIM ON YOUR LIST. HE WILL FIGURE OUT YOUR ID COMPUTER ADDRESS, SO COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE EVEN IF YOU DON’T CARE FOR THEM AND FAST BECAUSE IF HE HACKS THEIR EMAIL HE HACKS YOUR MAIL TOO!!!!!……
Anyone-using Internet mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and so on.. This information arrived this morning, Direct from both Microsoft and Norton. Please send it to everybody you know who has access to the Internet. You may receive an apparently harmless e-mail titled ‘Mail Server Report’
If you open either file, a message will appear on your screen saying: ‘It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful.’
Subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC,
And the person who o sent it to you will gain access to your name, e-mail and password.
This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon.. AOL has already confirmed the severity, and the anti virus software’s are not capable of destroying it ..
The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself ‘life owner’..
PLEASE SEND A COPY OF THIS E-MAIL TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS, And ask them to PASS IT ON IMMEDIATELY!
Important!!Better safe than sorry!!
Send this onto your friends
IF THIS PERSON CALLED SIMON ASHTON (SIMON_25_@HOTMAIL.CO.UK) CONTACTS YOU THROUGH EMAIL DONT ACCEPT HIM. DELETE HIM BECAUSE HE IS A HACKER!!
TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS HIM THEN YOU WILL GET HIM ON YOUR LIST. HE WILL FIGURE OUT YOUR ID COMPUTER ADDRESS, SO COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE AND FAST BECAUSE IF HE HACKS THEIR EMAIL HE HACKS YOUR MAIL TOO!!!!!..
According to this warning message, ‘accepting’ an email from a person named Simon Ashton, who uses the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, will allow him to hack your email account as well as the accounts of other people on your email contact list.
However, these claims are unfounded. The ‘warning’ is just a mutation of another hacker warning hoax that targets instant message users. As the following example indicates, the two hoaxes are very similar:
If somebody called email@example.com adds you don’t accept it because its a hacker. Tell everyone on your list because if somebody on your list adds them you get them on your list he’ll figure out Your ID, computer address, so copy and paste this message to everyone even if you hate them and fast cause if he hacks their email he hacks your mail
These bogus hacker warnings are just variations of a long-running series of hoaxeslike the one shown below that claim that simply adding an email address to your list will infect your computer with a virus:
SEND IT ON PLZ ITS URGENT!!! IF STUNNER_6T9@HOTMAIL.COM ADDS YOU TO YOUR MSN DONT ACCEPT IT. ITS A VIRUS. TELL EVERYONE ON YOUR MSN BECAUSE IF SOMEBODY ON YOUR LIST ADDS THEM U GET THE VIRUS TOO.
PLZ SEND IT ON!!!!
Clearly, all three “warnings” are variants of the same basic hoax. Along with those listed here, there are dozens of other versions of the hoax. In many cases, the versions are almost identical except for the email address of the supposed hacker or virus. All are equally nonsensical and should be disregarded. Apparently, from time to time, pranksters replace one of the existing email addresses with a new one and send it on. Thus, at any one time, there may be a number of different versions of the hoax circulating.
Like other versions, this message implies that simply accepting the address into your contact list will give the hacker access to your email account along with the accounts of everyone else on your list as well. This is technically infeasible. Of course, a hacker might use clever ruses to trick you into actually installing malware that allowed him to take control of your computer. And if you inadvertently provided personal information such as a username and password to the hacker, he could possibly access your online accounts and webmail. However, just adding even the cleverest hacker’s address to your contact list will not, by itself, afford him this level of hacking power. Some sort of file transfer or exchange of information would, of course, be necessary.
There are also no references to a hacker named Simon Ashton or his email address on any credible anti-virus or Internet security websites. Bogus warnings such as this do nothing more than clutter email inboxes, blogs and forums with even more utterly useless information.