Bellogate prank spams UCL emails

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An apparent email gaffe by UCL provost and former University of Leeds Vice Chancellor Michael Arthur has resulted in an online storm being dubbed ‘Bellogate’.

A mysterious email containing only the word ‘bello’ was sent out to all 26,000 UCL students.

This in turn resulted in a string of ‘reply all’ response messages, which this morning meant every UCL student woke up to 3,000 new messages in their inboxes.

Amongst some of the replies in the email chain was one that simply read: “Bello? Is it me you’re looking for? Regards, Lionel.”

Students subscribed to the University’s SMS service also had the messages sent directly to their phones.

Pranksters have also signed everyone in the email chain up for memberships on various online mailing lists and social media sites, including OKCupid, Sarah Palin’s official website, PornHub and the official Coldplay fan mailing list.

Bellogate has also been trending on Twitter.

One UCL student, @helloginnybatty, tweeted: “is having to manually delete over 3000 emails because office 365 doesn’t come with a mass delete button. MICROSOFT GITS… #bellogate #UCL”

Michael Arthur was Vice Chancellor at Leeds from September 2004 to May 2013, when he left to become university provost at UCL. He was replaced by current VC Alan Langlands.

A spokesperson for UCL released a statement this afternoon that the email address used was not Arthur’s current email address, and they suspect hacking was involved to gain access to the provost’s former email address, which also granted them access to all student email addresses.

UCL have also stated that they are working on tools to delete all of the spam emails, and they are also providing detailed instructions on how to delete the emails.

Sean Hayes

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