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  CNET : News : Story Thursday, April 13, 2000 

Ericsson free phone offer is a hoax
By Julian Matthews
Thursday, April 13 2000

KUALA LUMPUR--An email promising a free handphone from Swedish telco giant Ericsson and circulating among Asian Internet users is a hoax, confirmed a company spokesperson today.

"Ericsson is not giving away free phones. The chain mail is a fraud and there is no person with the name of Anna Swelund working at Ericsson. At Ericsson, we are constantly looking at new, innovative ways to market ourselves, chain emails is not one of them," said Peter Bodor, public relations manager of Ericsson Mobile Communications in an email response.

Bodor said the company first detected the fake mail at the end of March and has received about 1,000 mail since, mainly from Europe, and also from the US and Asia.

He added, however, the volume did not crash its mail server.

The contents of the mail suggested that those who forwarded the email to eight friends would receive a free Ericsson T18 handphone within two weeks. If forwarded to 20 friends, senders were promised "a brand new Ericsson R320 WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) phone."

It also reminded the recipient to send a copy of the email to the fictitious address, supposedly belonging to an executive promotion manager for Ericsson Marketing.

Bodor said the company would attempt to trace the originator of the mail. "Currently, we do not know if it originated from within or outside the company," he said.

He added that this was not the first time Ericsson was hit by such chain letters, and that other companies like Nokia, Microsoft and Disney were similarly affected.

Ericsson posted a notice on its Web site Monday advising people to discontinue forwarding the mail and apologized for the inconvenience.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohamed Awang-Lah, vice president of Mimos, the operator of Internet service Jaring, told CNET that the company "never condones such activity."

"If Ericsson has confirmed that it's fake, then nobody should bother with it," he said.

Dr Mohamed also advised users that apart from chain mail, they should also avoid various pyramid schemes currently circulating under the guise of e-commerce. "Any scheme which resembles a pyramid scheme should be considered illegal. Users should always be careful before parting with their money," he said.

Bogus email, like spamming, the act of sending unsolicited mail to multiple recipients, are the bane of Internet users and mail server administrators globally.

The numerous cases are well-documented in Web sites like the alt.folkore.urban archive, David Emery's Urban Legends And Folklore and the Urban Legends Reference Pages.

Currently still making their rounds duping the unwary are Bill Gates' supposed offer of US$1,000 (RM3,800) for testing out an email tracing program, Disney's offer for a free vacation to its Orlando theme park, and variations of the "my child is dying, send money" mail.

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