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24 Jun 2003

Free flight email hoax puts Dolly in a spin

PlaneAn email chain letter which deludes people into thinking British Airways are offering free flights to Asia has spread widely amongst internet users.

The Free flight chain letter claims that British Airways are encouraging users to forward the offer of free flights to try and encourage more people to fly following concerns about the SARS virus and the war in Iraq. However, British Airways has not endorsed the email in any way.

The email erroneously claims that British Airways and Microsoft are monitoring distribution of the message, and if anyone forwards it on to 10 more computer users they will automatically receive a free flight to anywhere in the world.

One version of the chain letter contains the phone number of a woman called Dolly Francis. According to reports in the media she has received many phone calls from people enquiring about the offer.

"The email is clearly nonsense and no such offer exists," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "However, hoaxes and chain letters like this are not harmless - they waste time and bandwidth, and can be a genuine headache for support departments. Users need to consider carefully whether everything they receive via email is trustworthy."

Sophos has made available a free, constantly updated information feed for intranets and websites which means users can always find out about the latest viruses and hoaxes.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at