Hoax Emails And Other Internet Email Hoaxes

Hoax Emails | What Is The Definition of Internet Email Hoaxes?..

Hoax Emails As The Means for Spreading SPAM

Hoax emails are simply put … the equivalent of chain letters!

Hoax Emails Surrounding Earth Like The Chain Letter HoaxesHoax emails are usually sent as alerts for ‘new viruses’ or some other times just telling interesting (sometimes funny, sometimes sad, often scaring) stories of something for free, new laws, raising funds and much more…

All hoaxes have one thing in common: they are not true; in particular … email hoaxes especially!

These usually serve as a means to collect email addresses from the unsuspecting victims… further on, adding the names and emails to SPAMMING lists, eventually sold over the Internet to email spammers.
How To Check Out A Hoax Email

Here’s how it happens…

  1. The ‘originator’ comes up with a story that appeals highly to human emotions, like FEAR, PITY, etc…
  2. They send it to a list of previously proven ‘forwarders’ (harvested maybe from another email hoax list)
  3. The ‘forwarders’ get the hoax email in their Inbox, open it regardless of the dangers and start reading; often times they get ‘touched’ by the story and decide to share it with their friends and… why not?… even all their email contacts.
  4. The ‘forwarders’ then just add their own people to the already sizable bunch of emails there (*please note that usually they come in plain sight, in the To field, for everybody to see (Bye-Bye privacy!) and hit the forward button.
  5. At some moment in time, the hoax email comes back, eventually, to the ‘originator’ who then grabs all the added emails and compiles a new fresh list of people to be sent hoaxes and after that, more SPAM email.

So, first thing to be done if you want to learn how to check out a hoax email is to look for the above signs.

  • Do you see the above pattern?
  • Is the ‘originator’ signed up somewhere, as a real person that could be contacted offline?
    (phone number, snail mail address, etc?..)
  • Look for the telltale phrase – “Forward this to everyone you know!
    Beware! The more urgent their plea is, the more suspect the message.
  • Also be in the look for the usual “This is NOT a hoax” or sometimes “This is NOT an urban legend” Most obviously by now … it means exactly the opposite.
  • Beware of the internet hoaxes that claim to be backed by reputable organizations, governmental agencies (see for example the FBI email hoax) and such.
    Remember, although these email hoaxes try to attribute the text to ‘legitimate’ sources, or many times implying that powerful corporate or especially government agencies have kept that information from you … think with your own mind (don’t fall for the “Men In Black” craze)

Bottom line is this: What smells like a rotten egg … usually IS a rotten egg!

There are very few examples of chain letters that have proven to be real; for instance, the case of the missing student Eddie Gibson. But press titles were screaming at the time though: “Missing gap year student”

Email Hoax List | A non-exhaustive list of NOT all the most known Hoax Emails

Some very well known world wide spread email hoaxes have to do with:

  • various email viruses alerts,
  • fake Microsoft messages,
  • celebrities related hoaxes
    (like the Michael Jackson death video hoax),
  • the global warming hoax,
  • the balloon boy hoax,
  • the perfume hoax,
  • the New York Zoo hoax,
  • the Moon landing hoax,


The above hoax emails list is not exhaustive by far… nor did I intend to make it the list of all hoax emails either. You may always read more about how to check out a hoax and related stuff on Wikipedia if you want.

My point was this, though:

Don’t Forward Hoax Emails!
This Is Basic Email Etiquette

You will, for once…

  • irritate those that do not spot the hoax and
  • they will probably pass it on, causing more irritation (and you help the SPAM grow this way, too!)

…while those that identify the email hoax will most likely be either pissed OR sometimes kind enough to reply (or better) send you a new message, to let you know that you have fallen to an urban legend hoax.

And don’t treat April Fool’s Day Pranks as Internet Email Hoaxes either…

Now… if you had such experiences that you’d like to share … when you had either fallen for a hoax, or spotted one (tell us how) OR if you’d like to see a particular email hoax added to the above list of email hoaxes … please leave a comment below and let all my readers vote for its popularity (use the Like button, folks!)

The list of all known email hoaxes should contain your own experience with hoax emails, don’t you think?


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"Steve is the consummate copywriter with great skills" - Copywriter Extraordinaire, Joe Sugarman Steve Lorenzo is also the internationally acclaimed author of the "Sexy eMail Marketing" book.


  1. loacoach2 says:

    So true. I never forward hoaxes and I always check them out of snopes.com and also inform the forwarder of basically all you have said here.

    Great post.


    My recent post Think And Speak On What Is Good

  2. francenestanley says:

    I'm aware now. When I was new to the internet, I got caught and tried to reassure a friend that she should contact the police. Of course, I didn't send money.
    My recent post June 23rd

  3. Nowadays, it seems most of these come through Facebook and not email. But this explains a lot about those emails I used to get- fascinating. I never realized these would circle back to their originators to get your email addres. I've also seen where the recent emailed ones insist "Snopes says it is true!" (needless to say, you go to Snopes and it says it's false). I don't seem to get a lot through Twitter – guess I've been lucky so far, and I also automatically assume that DMs are spam, or from a hacked account.
    My recent post Civil War Sunday – All Roads Lead to Gettysburg

    • They basically hope most people would never check… and in reality, very few people do.
      You have a good process there, if you check them on Snopes. Kudos!

  4. amandathom says:

    I get emails like this daily and I've learned to just delete them without even opening them.

    • I understand, but honestly, that doesn't mean you are safe – you see, someone (a friend of yours, co-worker, etc…) who HAS your email legitimately, has added you to that chain email and now, your email gets spread to ALL the other people who can see it (usually in PLAIN sight in the TO field) but sooner or later, it will return to the originator hacker.
      What you have to do, is to EDUCATE your friends who sent you such a chain email (hoax email) to stop doing so and in turn, educate their own friends, etc…

      You can point them to this article if you want, of course..

  5. From my experience, some of these hoax emails propagate what I call "idiotic health myths", and unfortunately older people fall prey to them. That's very much in line with what you said in the beginning – they appeal to certain emotions.
    While it's a sad reality, the best we can do is educate ourselves and keep other people informed as well.
    Thanks for putting it all together Steve.

    • Yes, unfortunately, elderly people (who were raised in a more 'honest', maybe, era… are more gullible and prone to fall for these hoaxes.

  6. Great Post Steve, and i would like to say that i have been guilty in the past of opening this hoax mails in the past unintentionally, not any more though like you say i know one from miles away because what smells rotten is in fact rotten, nice tips to be aware of found in your article thanks again!
    My recent post Do you have control over your blog…

    • Yes, no need to be ashamed or anything, Dan. I opened them once or twice in the past too.
      Some of them are so sneaky they can't be even easily discerned from legit ones until you study them closely (and most people, sadly don't know how to, anyway)

  7. Lianda Ludwig, M.S. says:

    I used to always write to people who hit "reply all" and tell them not to do that. I was getting on everyone's list – getting tons of emails I didn't want! UGH!
    And don't send me a chain letter- it will never go anywhere from me! It's hard to keep your email private!
    My recent post Mom Forces Daughter To Lose Weight, or Pay Up…


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