Bogus e-mails said relatives were dead

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The Independent Online

As hundreds of families wait for any news of their missing loved ones, some may have been the victim of the cruellest of hoaxes. Police arrested a man over the weekend in connection with bogus e-mails that were sent to anxious relatives telling them that their family members and friends had died.

As hundreds of families wait for any news of their missing loved ones, some may have been the victim of the cruellest of hoaxes. Police arrested a man over the weekend in connection with bogus e-mails that were sent to anxious relatives telling them that their family members and friends had died.

The messages claimed to have come from the UK's "Foreign Office Bureau" in Thailand, and were all sent using the e-mail address, ukgovoffice@aol.com, to friends and relatives who placed appeals for information on the Sky News website.

A 40-year-old man was arrested on Friday in Lincolnshire and police have seized computer equipment. The man was freed on bail later that day, but was arrested for a second time late on Saturday and brought to a central London police station for questioning.

"We are treating this as a very serious crime," a spokes-man for the police said. "These messages are hoaxes. The British Government would not use e-mail to convey news of the death of a loved one."

Sky News said it alerted police as soon as it discovered that hoax e-mails had been sent to people who posted messages on its site. A spokesman said: "Sky is disgusted at the abuse of this message board, which is designed for friends and relatives caught up in the tsunami disaster."