Essex: Hoax email telling people they have cancer branded as “vicious”
09:33 18 March 2014
A man who received a distressing hoax email telling him he had cancer has branded the people behind it as “vicious”.
Bill Wilkinson was one of several people who received the message, which claims to be from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and carries the subject line: “Important blood analysis result”.
The 64-year-old, who lives in Frinton, said the email advised he had a low white blood cell count and should visit his GP as the results pointed towards cancer.
Mr Wilkinson said: “Two close family members have been fighting cancer and undergoing treatment over the past few years. My brother has come to the end of his treatment for prostate cancer and the prognosis is not at all good.
“I was checked for prostate cancer about a month ago and got the all-clear but also participated in the bowel cancer survey.
“About four days before the email came through last week, I sent off samples for bowel cancer testing so I was waiting for a response when I got the email from NICE.”
The email said: “We have been sent a sample of your blood analysis for further research.
“During the complete blood count (CBC) we have revealed that white blood cells is very low, and unfortunately we have a suspicion of a cancer.
“We suggest you to print out your CBC test results and interpretations in attachment below and visit your family doctor as soon as possible.”
Mr Wilkinson, a management consultant, said he thought it was a spam because the email had a Zip file to download and there were grammatical errors but contacted his GP at Walton Surgery.
“I asked if they had my test results and said I had received an email,” he added. “They printed my results and said they were absolutely clear.
“The bottom line is why would these people send the fake email. The only thing I can think is that there’s a virus in the Zip file.
“It’s screwing up a lot of NHS time, it’s bringing the data management of health organisations into disrepute and it’s compromising people’s health.
“It’s the fear the email instils. It’s just vicious.”
The spam emails have been reported to GPs at Walton Surgery, Tiptree Medical Centre and Colchester East Hill Surgery.
Martin Durrant, practice manager at Walton Surgery, said: “This is a disgraceful, very upsetting and dangerous hoax.
“I hope that nobody else locally is caught by this appalling attempt to prey on people at their most vulnerable.”
North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group is warning people not to open or click on the email’s links.
NICE chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: “This email is likely to cause distress to recipients since it advises that ‘test results’ indicate they may have cancer.
“This malicious email is not from NICE and we are currently investigating its origin. We take this matter very seriously and have reported it to the police.”