A cruel and malicious e-mail has been sent to several local people, falsely claiming that they have contracted cancer.
Our sister paper, the Brechin Advertiser, was alerted to the hoax by Mrs Elizabeth Batchelor, a teacher in Dundee who is a patient of an Arbroath medical practice.
The e-mail said that blood tests she had recently showed that there was a suspicion of cancer and she should contact her family doctor as soon as possible. By coincidence Mrs Batchelor had had a blood test the day before.
However, her suspicions were aroused by the poor grammar and spelling on the e-mail.
She immediately contacted her GP practice who assured her that her blood tests showed her blood count was normal.
The fake test results are designed to look as if they have come from NICE - the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence. The practice contacted NICE to make them aware of the e-mail and they have put up a spam warning on their website.
The organisation’s chief executive, Sir Andrew Dillon, has assured people that the malicious e-mails do not come from them, and they have reported the matter to the police.
He said: “We are currently investigating the e-mail’s origin. We take this matter very seriously and have reported it to the police.”
Mrs Batchelor said she was flummoxed at the nastiness and depravity of the scam.
She said: “All internet scams are low and show a shocking lack of conscience but this one is particularly unpleasant. Imagine an elderly or vulnerable person receiving this e-mail. I wanted to speak out about this in the hope it might prevent others being upset or having their computers infected with viruses.”
Within a very short time of the story being highlighted on the Brechiner’s website several others said say they had received the same e-mail.
Mrs Susan Strachan said it had gone into her junk box, adding: “I have not been to the doctor for months and knew I had not had any blood tests taken but nonetheless an e-mail like this is still cause for concern.”
NICE are advising people who receive the e-mail to delete it without opening it and not to click on any links.
NHS Tayside said they had been alerted to the matter, and added that they would never, ever send results via e-mail.