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Bizarre hoax email to councillors claimed high-earners exempt from €6 gallery entry fee

Letters and emails were sent to all 63 Dublin City councillors; the Hugh Lane Gallery has clarified that it has nothing to do with this.

Efforts and Ideal Exhibition Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

FAKE PRESS RELEASES were sent around to 63 Dublin City councillors at lunchtime today claiming that the Hugh Lane Gallery was introducing an admission fee for visitors who earn under €45,000 a year.

Emails were sent from the email address ‘info@hughlanegallery.com’ – however, the correct general email address for the gallery is ‘info@hughlane.ie’ or ‘info.hughlane@dublincity.ie’. Letters were also mailed to councillors.

The correspondence, which addressed ‘visitors and supporters’ claimed to introduce an admission fee of €6 from tomorrow – with one odd exception.

“In order to further incentivise renewal,” the press release claimed, “We are offering free admission to certain parties in exchange for their positive contribution to the local economy.

Tenants paying over  €1,500 in monthly rent, workers with gross earnings of over €45,000 a year, and private sponsors of the Parnell Square redevelopment can avail of free entry by presenting proof of their contribution and a copy of government ID to reception on arrival.

“Otherwise we regret that the new €6 fee will apply.”

Here’s a look at the beginning of the email:

Hugh Lane hoax

Councillor Michael O’Brien, who was among the 63 Dublin councillors to receive the email, contacted the gallery when he heard the news, and left a message with their offices.

“I thought it was some sort of performance art,” O’Brien said, after the gallery had clarified that the notice ‘had nothing to do with them’.

He said it wasn’t clear what the motivation of the senders was, but that setting up an email and planning the message took some effort.

A spokesperson for the Hugh Lane Gallery said that it wasn’t clear what the aim of the whole incident was, but said that it hadn’t happened before and agreed it was ‘odd’ and ‘bizarre’.

There have been similar cases of email addresses mimicking official ones being used to prompt people to share their financial details.

In this case, luckily, there was no ‘lure’ or prompt for users to donate or sign up to a subscription.

Read: Facebook publishes ads in newspapers warning people about fake news

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