Campus police at the University of Maine Farmington are investigating the source of a campus-wide hoax email that falsely announced the school’s president had died of a stroke at her home Monday.
The message was forged to impersonate the office of the school’s associate provost, who the impersonators claimed would be taking over the position in the president’s sudden absence.
“She will be sorely missed by her students, her colleagues and the entire UMF community,” the hoax read, according to the Morning Sentinel.
But President Kathryn Foster was alive and well, attending a trustee’s meeting in Machias about three hours from the campus.
The university followed up with an official email denying the report about 40 minutes later, Bangor Daily News reports:
"President Foster has been at the Board of Trustees meeting in Machias all day. If anything had happened to her, someone would have called UMF, and we have received no such call. We have been attempting to communicate with her since the email arrived, but she is en route from Machias and currently unreachable. We will ask her to write an email to the student and staff lists as soon as we can reach her." ... "I have now been told of the events of recent hours here in Farmington, notably that someone acting with exceptional disregard for our community sent a damaging email message under Associate Provost Rob Lively's name to the UMF Student listserv," Foster [later] wrote in her own email to students. "We are actively pursuing information about this appalling act.
In a brief statement Wednesday, university officials said school officials "quickly determined the message was false, communicated this to the campus and are actively investigating the incident." UMF Senior Steven Langlin said there hasn't been a strong reaction on campus to the email. However, Langlin said he initially thought the email was true and from Lively. "That's the same tone that he uses when he sends out emails," he said.
As if the prank wasn’t mischievous enough, a link in the email offering more information on grief counseling services redirected users to a pornographic website.