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Eight email hoaxes that really worked

Hoaxes or not... millions fell for them

Email hoaxes are rife on the web, but with 30 percent of internet users claiming to have purchased something from a spam email, maybe the scams aren't as obvious as we first thought. Here's our round-up of the eight wackiest email scams that people really did fall for.

'Video: watch Angelina Jolie's lips explode!'

No matter how many warnings are issued, people still click on dangerous and fake attachments that purport to be interesting photos or videos but actually turn out to be damaging viruses or Trojan horses. An early star of such email scams was Madonna. Paris Hilton certainly had her day, as did Lindsay Lohan. Poor Britney Spears is still holding strong in this category. But we have to say that in 2008, the uncontested star of creepy download offers appears to be Angelina Jolie.

As well as Ms Jolie's lips, 'Britney Spears and Brad Pitt Naked Video' (does Angelina know?), 'Jolly Jolie Sex Scene', and (with extra points for having both ladies in the same email) 'Angelina Jolie and Britney Spears lesbian sex tape' are among some of the most popular email titles we've seen.

Speaking of jollies, you'll get a lot more than that after nasty viruses trash your PC. (You know deep in your heart, don't you, that the invitation to click on racy photos/videos just opens nasty executable files for malware?) You won't be so jolly when you get the bill to rehab your computer.

Work virus

Though an obvious joke, the Work Virus hoax reported last year by antivirus company Symantec will likely bring a smile to any cube dweller's face.

An excerpt from the email tells the story: "There is a new virus going around called 'work.' If you receive any sort of 'work' at all, whether via email, internet or simply handed to you by a colleague...DO NOT OPEN IT. This has been circulating around our building for months, and those who have been tempted to open 'work' or even look at 'work' have found that their social life is deleted and their brain ceases to function properly."

Pure genius. We'll have to send this one to our boss.

How to spot a hoax email

Several resources can tell you whether an email claim you're interested in is a hoax. One is Hoax-Busters.org, which describes itself as the 'Big List of Internet Hoaxes'; another is Snopes.com, which specialises in urban legends and hoaxes, and a third is Hoax-Slayer.com. Check out any of these sites before you forward that next petition, chain letter, or crazy photo.

  1. They may seem crazy but millions fell for them
  2. Sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide
  3. Money from Microsoft
  4. Start a nuclear war
  5. Even more scams and tips to spot a hoax email

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