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A nominee for the sicko hall of fame.

Tue Aug 16, 1:26 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - British police launched a probe Tuesday after the family of one of the victims of last year's tsunami disaster received a hoax e-mail claiming their relative had been found alive in a Thai hospital.

More than 230,000 people were killed or are missing following Indian Ocean earthquake and the tsunami which struck a dozen nations in southeast Asia on December 26 last year.

The death toll included about 140 Britons and the Foreign Office said in a small number of cases it had not been possible to formally identify victims.

London police described the bogus e-mail, purporting to come from a non-governmental organization called "Missing Tsunami Victims" and sent to at least one family stating their loved one was still alive, as "despicable."

"The message is clearly distressing for the recipient and the (police) would like to assure anyone receiving this message that it is a hoax," a spokesman said.

"Neither police nor the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recognize this organization."

The recipient of the e-mail had been upset by it but had quickly realized that it was a fake and passed it onto detectives, the spokesman said.

However, officers fear that other relatives may have also been sent a similar e-mail, which they believe originated from outside Britain.

Although it did not overtly request money, police suspect that fraud might be the motive.

Most of the dead Britons were holidaying when the magnitude 9 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra triggered the biggest tsunami on record, sweeping through coastal villages and resorts around the Indian Ocean rim.[/B]
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