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Bill Gates tops email hoax list

Unwilling daddy of useless chain mails

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Bill Gates isn't only the richest man in the world - he's also the subject of more email chain letters, virus hoaxes and scams than any other person or subject on the planet.

The Bill Gates fortune email chain letter tops a list of hoaxes compiled by AV vendor Sophos. Despite the frankly ludicrous claim that the Microsoft's chairman is prepared to share his wealth with anyone who forwards the email to a friend, the hoax (below) is still in active circulation after first appearing on the Net more than a year ago:

Dear Friends,

Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates is sharing his fortune. If you ignore this you will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.

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.

Surrreee.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos Anti-Virus, comments: "Obviously emails like this are nonsense, and should be deleted by computer users rather than forwarded on to their friends, family and colleagues."

Users are advised to always check their anti-virus vendor's Web site when they receive a possible hoax email. Independent resources such as Vmyths.com also provide a useful first port of call.

Lack of funds, and a military call up for Vmyths.com editor Rob Rosenberger, mean Vmyths is highly unlikely to be updated in the immediate future but an archive of the site will remain online. ®

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