A hoax email telling people they may have cancer has been sent to thousands of people in the UK.
The messages appear to be from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), but the organisation’s chief executive has personally warned people that the emails are fake and should not be opened.
Sir Andrew Dillon, NICE chief executive, said that the emails were likely to cause distress because they tell the recipient that “test results” indicate they may have cancer.
“This malicious email is not from NICE and we are currently investigating its origin,” he said. “We take this matter very seriously and have reported it to the police.”
NICE are advising people who have received the email, which carries the subject line "important blood analysis result", to delete it without opening it and not to click on any links.
The organisation said that it appeared that the spammers had sent thousands of emails and patients who had recently had a blood or cancer test have already been in contact to express their concern.
One said she was left “distraught” after reading it, while another who is waiting for the results of a real cancer test said she had been left in tears.
NICE said they had not been hacked but that spammers had used their name and logo.