A Hotmail user who registered the name "firstname.lastname@example.org" sent out official-sounding email to an indeterminate number of people earlier this week telling users that "The trial period for your free Hotmail Service is rapidly coming to a close."
It goes on to tout Hotmail's features and tells users the accounts will cost $10 per year. It then requests that the user send an email to "email@example.com" for an account form.
"Payments will be accepted by certified cheque, money order, or credit cards only," it states.
Hotmail pulled the account yesterday as soon as the staff found out about it, said Randy Delucchi, Hotmail's director of customer service.
Delucchi said he wasn't sure how many people got the email message, but added he was sure it "wasn't very widespread at all," because Hotmail has implemented antispam measures that prevent email from being sent to more than 25 people at a time.
Spammers generally like to send email to thousands of people at once.
This is not the first time people have used free email to try to scam their fellow Netizens.
In December, someone used Yahoo's free email to send out an official-looking letter telling users they had won a modem from Yahoo and would have to supply their names, addresses, and telephone numbers as well as a credit card number to pay for shipping.