The email promised for whatever reason you'd get money of Mr. W. Gates. It went something like
Hello everybody, My name is Bill Gates.
I have just written up an e-mail tracing program that traces everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. I am experimenting with this and I need your help. Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people everyone on the list will receive $1000 at my expense. Enjoy.
By the way there are 1000's of variations on this, but the same theme of something for nothing.
Back to what i was saying. So if you read the article you can find some classic quotes like:
"Janet Randall, director of the linguistics program at Northeastern University, received it from a friend and forwarded it to 64 people (promised earnings: $13,001.60) because of the lawyer's assurances."
I thought everyone by now everyone knew about these? Does this mean that someone out there is actually putting £5 in an envelope, sending it to the next 5 people on the list and adding his/her name to the bottom?
But there is an acutely bigger issue i see here. Personally common sense takes over and sense "yeah right!!", but that's probably because of long exposure to the web for quite a few years now, maybe the lure is to great for the newbie. Either way that email could quite of easily said "Open this application from Microsoft and earn money" - virus loaded, keys logged, and everyone in your contacts emailed!!! If the message about hoaxes is not getting out there, nor what we as developers see as common sense is not prevailing then how can we think that virus writers are going to have a hard time? I don't know who (but ISP's and Microsoft would be a start) but there needs to be a lot more basic education on how to use the web!
If you want to know more about the hoax email go here. By the way Snope.com is one of the most excellent sites on the web for finding out about weird true facts and some classic hoaxes