Security experts have issued warnings over a bogus chain email claiming to offer hundreds of pounds in M&S vouchers. 

The message, seeking to exploit the success of viral campaigns such as Threshers’ last year, promises the vouchers to recipients that forward it on to at least eight people.

It purports to be a joint promotion by M&S and housebuilding company Persimmon Homes, but both companies have advised anyone receiving the email to delete it immediately.

Security group Sophos warned computer users not to be fooled by the hoax as doing so could leave them susceptible to identity theft, as well as highlighting the potential problems for businesses.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the firm, said:

“Hoaxes of this nature may appear harmless but they can waste valuable bandwidth, impact staff productivity and place email addresses into the wrong hands. Email spreads like wildfire and forwarding one copy could result in 100 more being sent – some of which could potentially reach cybercriminals.”

The text of the email read:

“Dear all,
Marks & Spencers, in conjunction with Persimmon Homes, are giving away free vouchers. Marks & Spencers are trying word-of-mouth advertising to introduce its products and the reward you receive for advertising for them is free non-refundable vouchers to be used in any M&S store.
To receive your free vouchers by e-mail all you have to do is to send this email out to 8 people (for £100 of free vouchers) or 20 people (for £500 of free vouchers). Within 2 weeks you will receive an e-mail with your vouchers attached.
They will contact you through your e-mail address.
Please mark a copy to:
@persimmonhomes.com”