(9/22/2003) OK, let me get this straight... A group of users of Microsoft's MSN Internet service hacked into the system and are holding your personal information hostage to get back at the corporate giant? And, all you have to do to be saved from their attack is forward this message to 10 other people (not necessarily MSN users)? (WARNING: The following chain contains strong language that may offend some readers)
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Your Screen Name has Been Added to the ߮��� �.� Hackers List! Here is how we work. Because we master MSN, everytime this letter is sent out a copy is also instantly send to us. We then scan out all the names, and place them on our hackers list. Once you send out this letter 10 times your name again is instantly removed from our list. If this letter is not sent out exactly 45 minutes after you have opened it your name will not be able to be removed from our hacking list. Here is what happened when your name is stuck on the ߮��� �.� hackers list.
-Your MSN Instant messenger password is pulled out of MSN'S files. Stupidly MSN stores your password on a password access website. We have cracked the password needed and have access to every account except for MSN guides (cat guides). We gain your credit card number, social security number, and home address.
-Your credit card information and home address is stored at the MSN site and with that we can gain your social security number. Everytime you sign on HOTMAIL, OR MSN INSTANT MESSENGER your account will be messed around with and much, much more with the power of ߮��� �.� hackers.
-Don't believe this? We don't care at all because not following the directions given will harm you in over 10 ways. All you have to do is send this out to 10 people and you will never have to worry about this again. If you receive this letter again after sending it out you don't need to send it out again, because your name is not able to be put back on.
-Why are we doing this? It is to get back at MSN, and we are taking action.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
At the heart of this one is a tired old hoax formula: "We can track e-mails, so forward this to X number of people or else." E-mail tracking as it is described in this letter does not exist. It simply isn't possible. This letter first surfaced in early 2002, and nearly two years later, there is no evidence such a group of hackers ever existed.
If they've hacked into Hotmail, why do they need you to send their ominous message for them? Couldn't they wreak havoc without terrorizing innocent subscribers? If you got this as a forward from a friend, why should you believe your name is on the Hacker's list? And, what if you don't know 10 (or 15) other hotmail users? Will it count if you send it to non-MSN users?
Letters like these target MSN users because there is a stereotype of them being poorly versed in the technology they use everyday. It's not the first (nor probably the last) to prey on their lack of knowledge. They create crap like this letter, then sit back an laugh at all the "gullible newbies," who fall for it.
But this letter does pose one serious threat to your privacy. One of the most recent versions of it I received contained more than 500 e-mail addresses in the headers from numerous previous forwards. With a simple word processor and about 5 minutes, I was able to isolate these addresses into a list that spammers and scammers would pay handsomely for. Of course, I deleted my handiwork, but the next guy might not. When you forward chains like this, your name and address are attached to them and you have no control over who gets them. This should be reason enough to break the chain!