Sophos reported today that Bill Gates of Microsoft has become a chart topper, taking first place in the list of most commonly encountered email chain letters, virus hoaxes and scams.
The Bill Gates fortune email chain letter claims that Microsoft's chairman is sharing his wealth with everyone who forwards the email to a friend.
Part of the chain letter details how much money it claims can be earnt by forwarding the email. It reads as follows:
When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00.
Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a cheque.
"Obviously emails like this are nonsense, and should be deleted by computer users rather than forwarded on to their friends, family and colleagues," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus. "Education is key to fighting these nuisance emails, and Sophos offers a free hoax information feed which provides websites and company intranets with a live up-to-the-second chart on the hottest hoaxes."
Sophos continues to receive many support queries from users troubled by virus hoaxes and email chain letters, and recommends users always check an anti-virus vendor's website when they receive a possible hoax email or an independent resource such as vmyths.com.
The Vmyths.com website was one of the first internet resources to comprehensively document virus hoaxes. Sadly, a report on the Vmyths website currently reports that it is in need of "urgent assistance", and will cease operation in mid-July unless a means of support is discovered.
Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.