Forward this email and get rich
Dear friends, Bill Gates is sharing his fortune. If you ignore this, you will regret it later. When you forward this email to friends, Microsoft can and will track it. For every person you forward this email to, Microsoft will pay you $250 for every person that you send it to that forwards it on. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and send you a check.
Sound too good to be true? It should. The old adage "if it's too good to be true, it probably is" may come to mind. It's financially and technically preposterous.
The truth is, there really is no way for Microsoft - or anyone else, for that matter - to predictably and reliably track an email from person to person. It's just not that simple.
Trying to track an email message from destination to destination really isn't that different from tracking a postcard in the mail. Sure, the sender knows whom they sent the postcard to. But if the recipient chooses to forward the postcard along to someone else, the original sender would never know.
Now, it is true that propagators of spam have ways of determining when or if a junk mail message has been opened. But the messages have to be specially crafted for that purpose, and the techniques aren't foolproof.
In fact, the techniques used by many spammers use simply don't apply to the forwarding of messages in general. This is even more true for email programs like Mozilla Thunderbird that are set up to sanitize HTML and other Internet-related code from email messages.
Many people probably figure "it can't hurt to forward it, just in case." The problem is, not only is forwarding a message promising money an act of financial futility, it's also a problem for many recipients who see the messages as unnecessary junk mail.
In fact, many people find these kind of email messages highly annoying and will often delete them without even reading them. They'd prefer the person hadn't forwarded the message in the first place.
And forwarding messages cause businesses trouble too. Sometimes the extra volume of email messages such as these can clog email systems and slow things down. Email administrators would prefer the messages weren't sent either - it's just one more thing they have to deal with.
So the next time you receive a message telling you that Bill Gates is sharing his fortune or that some rich king in Africa is giving you his riches, think twice before you forward the message along to someone else, because doing so won't bring any benefits to you or the recipients you want to send it to.