Why you are a fool to fall for an email hoax

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That warning you just sent to me about the latest “POLICE ADVICE READ THIS” just proves one thing: you are a danger to yourself and to your friends.

This is embarrassing but let me spell it out.

The usual problem with this kind of email is:

  • You are being annoying and possibly offensive depending on how stupid the content of the email you sent is.
  • Hoax emails, chain mail, funny spam and the likes of Andy Rooney on Older Women can be vehicles for spreading trojan viruses.

These facts leave me in the uncomfortable position of either having to

  1. tell you to stop sending this stuff – which is awkward for both of us, or
  2. filter out your email or and/or be very selective with which ones I open.

But OK. In either case I can handle the situation.

But there is another, bigger problem.

If you are unable to identify email hoaxes then it is clear that you have a poor ability recognise digital dodginess in general.

Such naiveté suggests:

  • You don’t know what is real and what is fake making you a likely target for link-jacking on facebook and other sites.
  • You are more likely to fall prey to phishing.
  • You are more likely to friend people you don’t know on Facebook and thereby put yourself and your friends at risk of having their identify info scraped.

And when we get to this point, I have to assess whether your digital friendship is worth the risks. I’m not saying I don’t love you. I just wonder if you are savvy enough to be on the net.

Solution: Be Sceptical

If the tell-tale signs of hoax are not immediately obvious to you (it is 2011 after all – by now we should all be able to spot this stuff) then learn to identify it.

Before forwarding that spam, confirm that it is legit. This is easily done by googling some of the message content together with the words “hoax” or “snopes”.

Saying that, let me save you some time: it is fake. It always is.


Recently, Sophos asked its Facebook followers “What do you think of your friends when they fall for scams like this?” The consensus ranged between “they are idiots” to “I would unfriend them.”