Check for Scams before Forwarding Emails

Today, I received a great offer. A free Ericsson T18 Laptop. All I had to do was forward the email to 8 people and I would receive the laptop. As long as I cc’d the original sender. AND, if I forwarded the email to 20 people, my free laptop would be upgraded to an Ericsson R320.
Wow, I thought. I wouldn’t mind receiving a new laptop. Who do I know who would also benefit from this great offer? So, I immediately hit the forward button (something I don’t usually do) and started adding contacts.
I got as far as the third name and then realization hit me… how old was this email and how do they keep track? There must be a catch… I couldn’t be that lucky! They surely couldn’t make money from giving away so many laptops. Clearly this was an offer too good to be true!

I mean, when you think about it, the person who sent me the email was one of 20 recipients. The person who sent her the email was also probably one of 20, and the one before that too. So, if everyone in this tiny part of the chain each sent out 20 emails that would already be 3,200,000 recipients of a free laptop. No way could a company like Sony Ericsson give away that many laptops and expect to stay in business.
So, I looked for the expiry date on the ad. No date. I went on the Ericsson website to find out how old the T18 model was. But the most recent article about the T18 was 2 or 3 years old. Hmm, I thought, so this email must have been doing the rounds for quite some time.
Then, I wondered if this offer was even for real. So I searched for the subject line of the email on Google. Sure enough, it turned out that this was one of several variations of the same hoax that had been circulating the net since 2000. Not only that, if I had read the article on the T18, I would’ve learned that the T18 isn’t even a laptop, it’s a cell phone that was discontinued awhile back.
Ericsson is aware of the hoax and has made a statement assuring everyone that it had not originated any of the emails. Nor did the original sender’s email address exist at their company.
A hoax! I was right to be sceptical.
I immediately responded to the sender advising that she warn everyone else she’d sent the email to and gave her the link to one of the sites with the relevant information.
A lesson to be learned: before forwarding emails with offers that sound too good to be true, check the facts. Make sure they are not a hoax, whose only intentions are to obtain as many email addresses as possible and sell them to spammers, overload the internet or, worse still, circulate malicious viruses.
If you do forward emails, be sure to delete off the sender’s email address as well as all previous recipients’ email addresses. And if you’re sending bulk emails, be sure to blind copy all your recipients to avoid future spam.
Fortunately for me, I realized later that the lady who had sent me the email had actually bcc’d her 20 recipients, so hopefully the originator of the hoax would not have access to my email address.
More information about this hoax