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How to prove that an email has been sent?

I need an advice regarding something technical that has some relation to some legal misunderstanding. It boils down to this:

Can a mail sent from gmail.com be "faked"?

What do I mean? If I say, sent an email to some person, and have it still (the email) in my Sent Mail "folder", could I have faked it somehow? I just need to know roughly, because that person claims that he never received the mail from me (which is irrelevant) because I have not sent it (which is relevant).

P.S. I have no idea whether this is more appropriate here or on webapps. I am interested in this case in gmail.com because I have a mail there, but the question stands in general. Were I to have mail on some other server, and were I to use Outlook for example, would it be possible then?

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marked as duplicate by random Nov 29 '11 at 16:22

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
I just need to know roughly, because that person claims that he never received the mail from me (which is irrelevant) because I have not sent it (which is relevant). Get your homework in on time. –  Rob Nov 29 '11 at 17:34
    
@Rob - I don't consider not doing your homework "a legal misunderstanding". –  ldigas Nov 29 '11 at 17:49

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

All email that appears in your Sent mail folder in GMail has actually been sent by you. You cannot fake those records, because you would need direct access to GMail's servers (which you do not have).

This does not apply to installed mail clients like Outlook. There might be a direct way to forge sent mails in Outlook, but you definitely can redirect the mail you allegedly sent to somebody to any other server (using a proxy, for example) making Outlook think it sent the mail.

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Sending a fake "gmail" happens all the time by spammers, but it would be extremely difficult for you to fake the email being in your sent items folder without access to their servers.

What is likely is that with any free email service there is no guarantee your email will be delivered. It is 100% possible you sent the email and the recipient just never received it. It is also possible the other persons anti-virus program or email program treated it as junk mail. Without a delivery/read receipt, or them replying to the email, there is no way of proving they read it.

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I'm not actually interested whether he did receive or not, (because there are some indications that he did); I just need some confirm that I send it. Thanks! –  ldigas Nov 29 '11 at 17:51

You can drag and drop email from other folders in Gmail and Outlook, so for instance if you sent the mail using a different account ,you could theoretically move it to the Sent Items folder of another account. In Outlook (and other mail apps), by default, all items sent are stored in a common Sent Items folder.

The fact that you did not get a bounceback means it's less likely the mail wasn't successfully delivered, but there are cases where this can happen without a bounceback. In adddition, the lack of such a bounceback neither confirms nor denies that you message was ever sent.

Ultimately you'd need access to the mail logs for the sending and receiving mail servers in order to do any more in-depth analysis on mail delivery.

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