UPDATE - Fake E-Mail Threatens Hotmail Users

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Fake E-Mail Threatens Hotmail Users

Story Filed: Friday, June 30, 2000 4:01 PM EST

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Some users of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT.O) free Hotmail e-mail service are getting a bogus message, purportedly from a company official, threatening to cancel their accounts because the service is bogged down with too many customers.

Microsoft quickly responded by saying the message was a prank and that Hotmail, one of the largest Web-based e-mail services in cyberspace, was in great health.

``It's a chain e-mail that is a hoax. There is no truth in it whatsoever,'' said company spokeswoman Jessica Dobberstein.

She said Microsoft does not know how many Hotmail users received the bogus message.

Microsoft is considering posting a message on Hotmail telling users to ignore the crank e-mail, Dobberstein said.

The message, allegedly from a ``Jon Henerd'' of the ''Hotmail Admin. Dept.,'' tells recipients they will be kicked off the service if they do not prove they actively use their accounts by forwarding the e-mail.

``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,'' said the message, a copy of which was sent to a Reuters reporter.

The message itself was contradictory, saying, ``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.''

Then, it referred to forwarding the email rather than receiving it. ``If you do not pass this letter to anyone we will delete your account,'' it said.

Bought by Microsoft in 1996, Hotmail has 68 million users and more than a quarter-million new customers signing up every day, according to Microsoft. The service lets users send and receive e-mail for free from any computer connected to the Internet.

Earlier this month, media reports said some Hotmail users were hit by outages that left them unable to access their mail and in some cases erased address books and saved messages.

Microsoft has tried hard to build its consumer Internet services to compete against heavyweights like America Online Inc. (AOL.N) and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO.O).


-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), June 30, 2000

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