Thousands Bite on "Free Phone" Hoaxes
At any given time there are dozens of "free stuff" chain letters circulating by email, each promising cash or merchandise to all who forward the messages to everyone in their address books. They're all demonstrably false, which raises an obvious question: How many people are actually gullible enough to fall for these pranks?
The answer is: plenty. According to an AAP news story (Australia) dated April 7, "Thousands of people around the world have been fooled in recent days by two email chain letters promising them free Ericsson and Nokia mobile phones."
That's a lowball estimate, by the way, considering that the Nokia hoax has been circulating for a full three weeks or more. The Ericsson version, conceived as a "response" to its competitor's nonexistent offer, appeared around April 1.
The Nokia hoax seems to have originated in the Netherlands at any rate, with the exception of the appended legal notice (clearly swiped from Nokia's Website), the text shows clear signs of having been authored by a non-native English speaker. (See next page for the Ericsson "response.")
Onderwerp: Fw: WIN EEN NOKIA!!
Hello dear customer
The contents of Nokia World Wide Web pages are Copyright (c) Nokia Corporation 2000. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved. Reproduction, transfer, distribution or storage of part or all of the contents in any form without the prior written permission of Nokia is prohibited except in accordance with the following terms. Nokia consents to you browsing Nokia World Wide Web pages on your computer or printing copies of extracts from these pages for your personal use only and not for redistribution unless consented to in writing by Nokia. Individual documents in our World Wide Web pages may be subject to additional terms indicated in those documents.
The rigamarole about Windows 95 alludes to a fiction often employed in hoaxes of this type namely, the existence of software allowing forwarded emails to be "tracked" from user to user ad infinitum.
There is no such software. (See the Bill Gates hoax of 1997 for the origin of this all-too-familiar conceit.)