Summary: Email claims that your Hotmail (or Yahoo) account will be terminated if you don't forward the message (Full commentary below.)
Examples:(Submitted via email 2003, 2004, 2005)
READ THE PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT TO KEEP YOUR HOTMAIL ACCOUNT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dear Hotmail User,
Because of the sudden rush of people signing up to Hotmail, it has come to our attention that we are vastly running out of resources. So, within a month's time, anyone who does not receive this email with the exact subject heading, will be deleted off our server. Please forward this email so that we know you are still using this account.
We want to find out which users are actually using their Hotmail accounts. So if you are using your account, please pass this e-mail to every Hotmail user that you can and if you do not pass this letter to anyone we will delete your account.
Subject: Fwd: Warning - Hotmail users
Hotmail is overloading and we need to get rid of some people and we want to find out which users are actually using their Hotmail accounts. So if you are using your account, please pass this e-mail to every Hotmail user that you can and if you do not pass this letter to anyone we will delete your account.
From Mr. Jon Henerd
Hotmail Admin. Dept.
Hello to everyone from the Hotmail Headquarters! This is just a little test to see who is actively using their email account and in effect deleting all inactive users accounts. This process will make the whole site faster and easier to use for the active users. Now on to what to do with this email. All you have to do is forward this on to at least 10 registered Hotmail users. If you don't forward this on within 48 hours of reading it, your account will be deactivated momentarily until you contact Hotmail Headquarters.
MSN as you might know is having some technical difficulties due to
the amount of accounts registered. Forward this message by copy and
pasting it to all the people on your contact list so that our server
recognizes your account as active. All accounts who do not will be
removed within 24 hours so that the network is not overloaded with
According to this message, the recipient's Hotmail account will be deactivated or deleted if he or she does not forward the email to a number of other people. However, the claims in the message are untrue and the email is not from Hotmail's management. In fact , the message is a long running hoax that has spawned dozens of variants since it first began circulating back in 1999. As well as spreading via email, the hoax also makes its way around the world via instant messaging and social networking websites
Like a lot of hoaxes, this one banks on the fact that many people will hit the "forward" button without analyzing the information very deeply. Even if Hotmail was "running out of resources", it certainly would not attempt to remedy the problem by asking customers to forward an email. Hotmail, or any other webmail system, would not employ such a vague, hit and miss method of checking on the status of account holders. It seems likely that such services have sophisticated and precise methods of checking the activity levels of accounts that do not require the account holder to reply to or forward a specific message.
Although the above example is aimed at Hotmail, variations of the hoax have also targeted Yahoo and AIM instant messaging customers.
DO NOT DELETE!!!! This is Yahoo President Jay Russell, I am sorry
to announce that Yahoo has reached its maximum number of accounts
two million. If you would like to keep your account for free send
this to everyone on your list. This way we can know which accounts
are being used and which accounts we can delete. Send this within
8 days and your account will remain free. Once again I am sincerely
sorry that I have to do this. Please start sending. Jay Russell,