updated 5/3/2005 4:32:15 PM ET 2005-05-03T20:32:15

A computer virus spreading through fake e-mails crashed the computers of the World Cup organizing committee Tuesday, overloading the system with millions of e-mails.

The virus is contained in attachments coming from senders with addresses such as "ticket@fifa.de" or "gewinn@fifa.de," telling fans they have won tickets to next year's tournament.

Organizers were still unable to send e-mails late Tuesday, spokesman Gerd Graus said, adding that preparations for next year's World Cup were unaffected.

Like earlier versions of the Sober worm, the bilingual virus can travel in both English and German e-mails as an attached file. The worm can use a variety of different subject lines and message bodies, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for London's Sophos computer security firm.

If users open the attached file, they're computer will get infected and the worm will mass-mail itself to other e-mail addresses found on the infected computer.

"Many people will be eager to attend one of the biggest sporting events in the world next year, and may think it is worth the risk of opening the e-mail attachment just in case the prize is for real," Cluley said.

Spokesman Gerd Graus said e-mails from the organizers to fans confirming they had obtained tickets contained no attachments.

Fans who got tickets during the first selling phase that ended March 31 already had been informed by April 22. Another selling period began May 2, for so-called team specific tickets, and those who ordered them got an immediate e-mail confirmation, also without an attachment.

Organizers already have foiled a fraudulent attempt to place more than 2 million orders for World Cup tickets from the United States.

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