Updated: UMF investigating hoax email

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UMF President Kathryn Foster
UMF President Kathryn Foster

Editor’s note: In the past 24 hours, Fred Brittain, the UMaine System executive director for information technology services, has been overseeing an active investigation of the email hoax that occurred on the UMF campus, Monday, March 24, and has the following update: Data systems at the University of Maine at Farmington have not been compromised in any way and remain completely secure; the email was a forgery mechanism commonly used; a new control has been implemented to prevent forged messages from reaching UMF’s student email lists. An active investigation is ongoing to determine who was behind the forgery, said a spokeswoman with the university.

FARMINGTON – The University of Maine at Farmington is continuing to investigate a mass email sent to students and staff Monday evening, in which the sender inaccurately indicated that UMF President Kathryn A. Foster had died.

The email was sent at 5:07 p.m. Monday evening, indicating that Foster had died at her home in Farmington. The email was falsely signed by Associate Provost Robert L. Lively, Jr., whom it identified as the “Interim President,” and included a link for more information which connected users to a pornographic site.

Within the hour, an email sent by Daniel Gunn, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, and F. Celeste Branham, vice president for student and community services, identified the original email as a hoax which had not been sent by Lively.

“President Foster has been at the Board of Trustees meeting in Machias all day,” the email read. “If anything had happened to her, someone would have called UMF, and we have received no such call. We will ask her to write an e-mail to the student and staff lists as soon as we can reach her. Meanwhile, please be assured that this e-mail is false and malicious.”

Foster later wrote an email on the subject, saying that “someone acting with exceptional disregard for our community sent a damaging e-mail message under Associate Provost Rob Lively’s name to the UMF Student listserv.”

“We are actively pursuing information about this appalling act,” Foster said. “In the meantime, I write to tell you that I am fine, though deeply saddened that our community has been subjected to this fraud.”

Today, UMF spokeswoman April Mulherin indicated that the university is “actively investigating” the incident.

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