Fact Check

Nonchalant E-mail About Murdered Secretary

Law firm employee sends nonchalant message about replacement of a murdered secretary.

Published Mar 21, 2001

Claim:   Employee of a law firm sends nonchalant message about replacement of a murdered secretary.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2001]

From: Morgan, Pauline
Sent: 16 March 2001 11:39
To: All Hong Kong Executives
Cc: HK Reception; Chiu, Sarah
Subject: 24th Floor Night Secretary

Please note that our night secretary, Natalie Francisco (24th Floor), has been murdered. The replacements are as follows:

Friday 16th March   Winnie Wong, her station is 2436-2, ext. 3129
Monday 19th March   Vicky Chan, her station is 2439-1, ext. 3172

They will stay until 9:00pm. If you need any extra assistance, please contact me as soon as possible.

Many thanks

Origins:   You'd think lawyers would have learned better than to play stupid e-mail tricks after the Clair Swire brouhaha, but no such luck. A trainee solicitor at the Hong Kong office of Herbert Smith faced disciplinary action for having created and sent a message that "falsely stated a secretary in the Hong Kong office of Herbert Smith had been murdered and then dispassionately gave the names of two replacements," a message which was forwarded on to the Internet world at large by a fellow trainee in Herbert Smith's London office. According to news reports, "Not until [a week later] did staff realised they had been the victims of a hoax and that the woman was alive and well."

Last updated:   30 October 2007


  Sources Sources:

    Verkaik, Robert.   "Lawyers Sent E-Mail Hoax About 'Murder' of Secretary."

    The [London] Independent.   22 March 2001   (p. 9).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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