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Issue 86 - October 2008 - Page 1

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Burundanga Business Card Drug Warning
  2. In-N-Out Burger Discounted Food Hoax
  3. Fraud Transactions Warning Malware Email
  4. Human Parts Factory Hoax
  5. Free Fuel Offer From Shell Hoax
  6. Virus Complaint Email Carries Malware
  7. Miley Cyrus Death Hoax
  8. Chinese Milk Contamination - Recalled Products Warning Email
  9. Poverty Reduction And Eradication Advance Fee Scam
  10. ATM Card Advance Fee Scam
  11. Internet Rumour - UNESCO Chooses Indian National Anthem as Best In The World
  12. American Airlines Loyalty Program Phishing Scam
  13. Senator Collins Oil Spill Interview - The Front Fell Off
  14. Online Quiz to Help Bihar Flood Victims
  15. Internet Access Suspended Malware Email

Issue 86 Start Menu

Next Article

Burundanga Business Card Drug Warning

Summary:
Email warning claims that criminals are attempting to incapacitate women in order to rob or rape them by handing them business cards laced with a powerful drug called Burundanga (Full commentary below).



Status:
Unsubstantiated Urban Legend

Example:(Submitted, September 2008)
Subject: Be Alert & Cautious / Must read!!

A man came over and offered his services as a painter to a female who was putting gas in her car and left his card. She said no, but accepted his card out of kindness and got in the car. The man then got into a car driven by another gentleman. As the lady left the service station, she saw the men following her out of the station at the same time. Almost immediately, she started to feel dizzy and could not catch her breath. She tried to open the window and realized that the odor was on her hand; the same hand which accepted the card from the gentleman at the gas station.

She then noticed the men were immediately behind her and she felt she needed to do something at that moment. She drove into the first driveway and began to honk her horn repeatedly to ask for help. The men drove away but the lady still felt pretty bad for several minutes after she could finally catch her breath.

Apparently, there was a substance on the card that could have seriously injured her.

This drug is called 'BURUNDANGA' and it is used by people who wish to incapacitate a victim in order to steal from or take advantage of them like REPEATED GANG RAPE. This drug is four times more dangerous than the date rape drug and is transferable on simple cards.

So take heed and make sure you don't accept cards at any given time alone or from someone on the streets. This applies to those making house calls and slipping you a card when they offer their services .

PLEASE SEND THIS E-MAIL ALERT TO EVERY FEMALE YOU KNOW




Commentary:
This cautionary tale relates an incident in which a woman narrowly escapes the clutches of dangerous criminals after they duped her into taking a business card impregnated with a debilitating drug known as burundanga. According to the email, just handling a card that has been treated with the drug is enough to incapacitate the victim and allow criminals to commit rape or robbery.

Burundanga is a real drug and reports indicate that it has indeed been used to facilitate crimes, especially in the South American nation of Columbia. Various reports claim that victims under the influence of the substance can be controlled at will by the criminals who administer it. Some stories relate how hapless travellers in South America are unknowingly given burundanga and "wake up" hours or days later with no idea what transpired while they were under the drug's influence. Victims have allegedly been sexually assaulted, robbed, and callously manipulated while under burundanga's spell. It has even been claimed that drugged victims have committed serious crimes or acted as drug mules at the behest of their controllers.

Burundanga comes from Brugmansia, a genus consisting of several species of flowering plants which are native to subtropical regions of South America. The drug is also known as scopolamine, a pharmaceutical commonly used to treat nausea, vomiting, and several other conditions. According to information on drugs.com, an overdose of scopolamine can cause "drowsiness, dizziness, agitation, fever excitability, seizures or convulsions, hallucinations, coma, and death".

Thus, there is no dispute that burundanga is a dangerous substance that can have unpredictable and serious effects on victims. Given the number of quite credible burundanga related traveller warnings, it seems beyond doubt that the drug has indeed been used by criminals to debilitate victims. However, there is serious debate about just how docile and controllable victims under the influence of the drug would actually be. Some of the more lurid horror stories about burundanga may well significantly exaggerate the effects of the drug and, frankly, tend to strain credibility.

That said, the primary purpose of this article is to discuss the veracity of the particular emailed warning included above. Those interested in reading more about burundanga in general - along with its use by criminals - would do well to start with psychologist and sacred plant expert Steve Beyer's excellent and detailed commentary published on the Singing to The Plants blog in 2007.

So, is there any true to the laced business card warning? Most probably not. Firstly, to have an impact, burundanga must be taken with food or drink or inhaled as a powder. There are unsubstantiated stories that claim that criminals have drugged victims by blowing burundanga into their faces as they unfold a piece of paper that has previously been powdered with the drug. Other reports suggest that burundanga is more commonly administered by adding it to the unwary victim's food or drink.

However, even the more questionable reports do not claim that a victim can be drugged simply by touching something with burundanga on it. The warning suggests that the woman was affected by the drug after simply taking and touching the business card supposedly impregnated with the substance. In reality, it seems vastly improbable that this method of administering the drug would be in any way viable.

Secondly, the message claims that the woman became suspicious after smelling the odour of the drug on her hand. But various credible references claim that the drug is colourless, odourless, and tasteless, so, again, the scenario described in the message seems highly improbable.

And thirdly, after extensive research, I could find no credible news or police reports warning of burundanga laced business cards in the United States or elsewhere. If such crimes were really occurring, warnings about them would not circulate solely via email. There would certainly be at least some mention of such incidents published in news sources and in law enforcement publications.

As per usual with emailed warnings of this nature, the message is vague to say the least. The alleged victim is simply referred to as "a female" and the message gives no hint as to the location where the incident supposedly occurred. The absence of such basic details in the warning makes it difficult or impossible to verify. This generic quality is often a characteristic of hoaxes and urban legends since too much detail means that such stories can be too easily debunked. While some variants of the message do specify the location as Katy, Texas, this appears to be a later addition that has simply been tacked on to the original email. Research provides no evidence that such an incident occurred in Katy or anywhere else in Texas.

The email is reminiscent of other baseless warnings that circulate via email, including the long running Car Park Perfume Hoax, the Dropped $5 Bill Serial Killer Warning Email, and the Flat Tire Mall Abduction Warning.

Thus, while people, especially those travelling in South America, should be aware of the potential use of burundanga as an aid to criminal activities, there is nevertheless no evidence whatsoever to support the claims in this warning email. Forwarding spurious warnings such as this will help nobody and will serve only to spread unnecessary fear and alarm.

References:
Brugmansia
Scopolamine
Latin America: Victims of drugging and mugging
COLOMBIAN DEVIL'S BREATH
Singing to the Plants: Burundanga

Next Article

Issue 86 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. Burundanga Business Card Drug Warning
  2. In-N-Out Burger Discounted Food Hoax
  3. Fraud Transactions Warning Malware Email
  4. Human Parts Factory Hoax
  5. Free Fuel Offer From Shell Hoax
  6. Virus Complaint Email Carries Malware
  7. Miley Cyrus Death Hoax
  8. Chinese Milk Contamination - Recalled Products Warning Email
  9. Poverty Reduction And Eradication Advance Fee Scam
  10. ATM Card Advance Fee Scam
  11. Internet Rumour - UNESCO Chooses Indian National Anthem as Best In The World
  12. American Airlines Loyalty Program Phishing Scam
  13. Senator Collins Oil Spill Interview - The Front Fell Off
  14. Online Quiz to Help Bihar Flood Victims
  15. Internet Access Suspended Malware Email