Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, known as the Naked Chef, is the subject of the hoax which started hitting inboxes in the United Kingdom early this week. The e-mail claims to contain a copy of a new Oliver cookbook, entitled 'Naked Chef 2'. Penguin Books, Oliver's publisher, is warning people that the e-mail is a scam and the recipes and images contained in it are stolen from old Naked Chef cookbooks.
But the promise of good eats is enough to create a storm of e-mailing across the Internet.
Sophos, Inc., a security and anti-virus software company based in Lynnfield, Mass., released an alert about the hoax, stating that recipients of the scam are rushing to forward the 4MB email on to their friends and family, slowing down e-mail systems.
''Sending a 4MB e-mail clogs bandwidth like some of Jamie's more indulgent desserts may clog arteries,'' says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. ''If you're hungry for his latest recipes, but his books at the store rather than cheat the system and upset your IT administrator.''
E-mail scams have been prevalent on the Internet this summer.
The series of Bill Gates e-mail chain letters has been topping the charts as the most prevalent scam on the Internet, choking corporate in-boxes, clogging bandwidth and causing headaches for IT managers.
The Bill Gates e-mail has a string of variants, some going back several years and a few brand new ones just going out in the wild, according to Sophos. One variant of the e-mail chain letter claims that Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., is teaming up with British Airways to give away free plane tickets to anyone who forwards the email to 10 or more people. A more recent variant claims that Gates himself will pay $245 for every person you forward it to.
''It's obviously just nonsense,'' says Chris Belthoff, a senior security analyst with Sophos. ''Even though they seem benign, the downside of these hoaxes is that they're a productivity issue, and a network and bandwidth issue. They end up being the bane of most IT managers.''