Issue 76 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 76: October 2007
This month in Hoax-Slayer:
A Free Monthly Web-Based Newsletter brought
to you by Brett Christensen
The Hoax-Slayer Newsletter keeps you informed about the latest email hoaxes and current Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also features
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Email Request to Adopt Free Black Lab Puppies
Message claims that 6 black lab puppies rescued from a roadway are in desperate need of new homes.
May have been true, but the message is now outdated and pointless
(Submitted, October 2007)
Subject: FW: Free black labs...Know anybody looking?
these guys are sure tempting!! this email came from my sister via
Please let me know if you know of anyone who might be interested.
Scott rescued 6 black lab (mix) puppies out
of the middle of the road on Saturday. PLEASE help me find them homes -
otherwise, it's Animal Control - which means they only have 5 days. We've
bathed them, sprayed them for fleas and wormed them....but we can't keep
them. They are currently in a kennel in my basement since I don't have a
fence. I've lost count of the number of rescue groups that I've contacted,
only to be turned down due to no room. Please check with every dog person you
know to see if they need a puppy.
This email forward claims that 6 black Labrador puppies found abandoned on a roadway are in desperate need of new homes to avoid a bleak and uncertain future at the hands of "Animal Control". The message includes a photograph of six adorable, blue-eyed puppies.
The claims in the message may have been true when they were originally posted on Craigslist and other online message boards. However, subsequent reports suggest that the puppies have now all been adopted. The original Craigslist post was later removed, possibly because the puppies had already been rehoused. And an article
in Connecticut news outlet "The Advocate" notes:
An Atlanta phone number was listed on some of the earliest versions of the message. A call yesterday to the number, associated with a woman named Anne Rule, reveals a recorded message.
"The puppies have all been adopted, so please do not leave a message," a woman said.
Moreover, follow-up posts
to some of the earlier online messages about the puppies also indicate that they have now found new homes.
Thus, even if the original request was genuine, the continued forwarding of the message is now utterly pointless. The message has now spread all over the world. Some include different contact details than those listed in earlier versions of the message. These contact details are supposedly included to allow recipients to find out more information about the puppies. However, at least some of the later contact details listed in the messages are invalid.
Others, like the example included here, have no specific contact details at all other than the email addresses of those who last forwarded the message. Copies of the email that are currently circulating may have already been forwarded thousands of times, so it would be very difficult to reliably track back to the original sender to find out more information about the puppies. And, since the original sender may well have simply copied and pasted the message from an online message board, even he or she might not have any accurate information about the current status of these pups.
The message does not include a specific location where the puppies were found. Thus, recipients far, far away from the actual location of the dogs may assume that they were discovered locally. A version of the plea is circulating via email in Australia and has been posted on Asia message boards. Even if the animals were still in need of new homes, it would be an impractically expensive and lengthy process for an animal-lover half way across the planet to adopt one.
The date that the puppies were found is also not included in the message. Therefore, the message is likely to continue circulating indefinitely since many recipients will assume that the puppies were only recently rescued. A hoax email that claimed a litter of Golden Retriever puppies
would be put down if new homes were not found urgently continues to hit inboxes years after it first began circulating.
Emails about children or animals in need of help, especially those that include photographs, are apt to have well-meaning recipients clicking the "forward" button without due forethought. It is always wise to check the status of such pleas for help before sending them on. Pointless and outdated messages such as this one do no more than needlessly clutter inboxes and, in some cases, waste the time of animal rescue organization staff who must field endless enquires about supposedly homeless animals.
E-mail is the tail wagging a tale of dogs
Lab Puppies need rescuing
Free Golden Retriever Puppies Hoax
Puppy Adoption Email Leads to Dead Ends
Photos of Old Car Collection Found in Portugal Barn
Email with attached photographs of an extensive collection of valuable old cars claims that a New York man discovered the vehicles locked in a barn on a property he bought in Portugal.
Photographs are genuine but the description is untrue.
(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: Real estate deal
YOU MUST check this out . . . Trust me
A New York man retired. He wanted to use his retirement money wisely,
so it would last, and decided to buy a home and a few acres in Portugal.
The modest farmhouse had been vacant for 15 years; the owner and wife
both had died, and there were no heirs.
The house was sold to pay taxes.
There had been several lookers, but the large barn had steel doors, and
they had been welded shut. Nobody wanted to go to the extra expense to
see what was in the barn, and it wasn't complimentary to the property
anyway... so, nobody made an offer on the place.
The NY guy bought it at just over half of the property's worth; moved
in, and set about to tear in to the barn - curiosity was killing him.
So, he and his wife bought a generator and a couple of grinders... and
cut thru the welds.
What was in the barn? Don't miss it!
There are many more pictures.....
Go to www.intuh.net/barnfinds/afa70.htm
and start wishing you had
bought the place. Click on the index for a faster download.
The photographs that travel with this email forward show an extensive collection of beautiful but dusty and neglected old vehicles parked almost bumper to bumper in a large building. Some bandwidth munching versions of the message include a dozen or more photographs. Others, such as the one included above, show only one or two photographs but include a link to a website that displays the entire photo series
While the photographs are genuine, the text in the email explaining their origin is untrue. There was no retired New Yorker who came across an incredible, and totally unexpected, windfall when he broke open the welded doors of an old barn on his newly acquired Portuguese property. Instead, there is a more mundane, but much more believable explanation.
Journalist Tom Cotter researched the story and finally identified the photographer as Manuel Menezes Morais. Morais was contracted to take photographs of the cars by their owner. Due to the wishes of the owner, Morais was unable to reveal exact details of the barn's location or the owner's name, but he did give Tom Cotter some general information about the origin of the vehicle collection. In an article about the cars
for Sports Car Market Magazine, Tom Cotter notes:
The owner of the cars was a car dealer in the 1970s and 1980s, and decided to save the more interesting cars that came through his doors. When the barn was full, he padlocked and "soldered" the doors shut. (Perhaps welding was too permanent.)
Web sites varied on the number of cars: 58, 100, and 180 were speculated. According to Morais, there are 180 cars in the barn.
Cotter's research indicates that the cars are probably located in an area near Lisbon, in Portugal.
Thus, it seems that the "retired New Yorker" cover story is no more than a fictional embellishment. The story may have evolved out of an earlier description of the photographs that simply asked recipients to imagine what it would be like to acquire a piece of land and then subsequently discover a treasure trove of old cars hidden in a barn on the property:
ok, so imagine you live in portugal and your moving house. you find a lovely farm house set in a decent plot of land. the place has been empty for 15 years!
whilst exploring your new property you find a large barn in the trees. the door is padlocked shut and its all rusted solid. so you grind the padlock open.........
It is quite common for pranksters to invent a fanciful tale to go with a particularly compelling set of photographs. In many cases, including this one, such foolish and fictional embellishments seem redundant. Photographs like these speak for themselves and need no tall stories to enhance their impact.
Portuguese Barn Find: Fact or Fiction?
Ministry Of Finance Non Residential Tax Lottery Scam
Message, ostensibly from the "Ministry Of Finance" in the UK, claims that the recipient must pay Non Residential Tax before receiving supposed winnings from an international lottery (Full commentary below
False - Part of an international lottery scam.
(Submitted, October 2007)
Subject: IMMEDIATE STOP ORDER ON TRANSFER VALUED AT 1,000,000.00 (One
million pounds sterling's)
The Directorate-General for Tax and Customs Policy Major
Companies/Individuals Tax Unit Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
Our Ref: MF/UK/CB-XX-02/08
The Directorate-General for Tax and Customs Policy revenue of the United
Kingdom via its intelligence-monitoring network have discovered that the
CITIBANK UNITED KINGDOM are about to remit some funds £1,000,000 (One
million pounds sterling's) being proceeds of UK NATIONAL LOTTERY without the
payment of Non residential tax being a Non UK resident.
Non residential tax is the sole responsibility of the beneficiary .Income
taxes are from source generally include direct federal tax, communal taxes,
as well as, most of the time, church tax. As in the case of income tax,
cantonal tax rates vary to a fairly large extent depending on the locality.
Governmental tax scales for withholding tax and the corresponding
regulations are available at the Government tax departments. The funds
£1,000,000 (One million pounds sterling's) with other valuable documents
backing your winnings are now on HOLD because we ( Tax Investigation
Services ) noticed that you are not a British Citizen, so in this case, you
will have to pay a Non residential tax fee before the transfer of your funds
will be allowed out of the shore of this country.
Find below the contact information of the Ministry of finance:
CONTACT PERSON: Mr.Smith Johnson (Esq.)
EMAIL ADDRESS: email@example.com
PHONE NUMBER: + 447014221039
In accordance with United kingdom tax system of inland revenue ordination
decree 1997 section 51 of United Kingdom tax legislation Law reviewed by
Prime Minister Tony Blair and Former State Secretary Helen Clarke of the
Ministry of Finance, Revision of Tax 1999 . I wish to bring to the notice of
the governing board of the CITIBANK UNITED KINGDOM the consequence of
remitting of such huge amount of money outside the shores of this country
(The United kingdom) without complying fully with the provision of the
financial regulations and directives contained in section 51 of 1997 decree
act which stipulates that for any amount ranging from One million pounds
sterling's (£1,000,000) above the recipient must pay 0.05% of the total
funds accordingly. This will duly guarantee and cover the money as being
legitimately acquired from the United kingdom National Lottery.
By virtue of the powers conferred on us as the accredited board of
Directorate-General for Tax and Customs Policy revenue of the United Kingdom
and laundering agency in the United Kingdom solely responsible for issuing
the certified Non residential tax clearance certificate on foreign transfer
compensation and remittance.
We therefore wish to clarify to the CITIBANK UNITED KINGDOM and the Ministry
of Justice that the beneficiary of this fund must be advised to seek
appropriate Non residential tax clearance certificate upon the payment of
the rights of 0.05% of the total fund being transferred otherwise the money
will be impounded as laundered.
The fee for such clearance has been calculated inclusive of VAT to be 0.05%
of (£1,000,000) which amount to £500 (Five Hundred Pounds Sterling's only)
for immediate conclusion for all relevant bureaucratic procedures,
accreditations, the payment must be made henceforth through our accredited
account officer co-ordinates.
Failure by the beneficiary to abide to the lay down procedures and
regulations, the remittance of the fund must be stopped with immediate
effect. Therefore, the CITIBANK UNITED KINGDOM is hereby directed to stop
further payment modalities of the above-mentioned beneficiary until a TAX
CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE is issued for the transfer of the said funds.
Thanks in advance for your anticipated co-operation.
Yours Sincerely,Mr. Stephen Timms (Esq.)
MINISTRY OF FINANCE
Lottery scammers sometimes use quite elaborate ruses to try to convince their potential victims that they must pay fees in advance before the supposed "winnings" can be released.
In the case discussed here (reconstructed from a number of reader submissions), the scammers have first sent a typical lottery scam email that claims their victim has won £1,000,000 in the UK National Lottery. After the victim has fallen for this initial "bait" email and replied as instructed, he has then received several more messages from the scammers that supposedly give details and further instructions about how and when the "winnings" will be delivered. Finally, the victim was sent another email assuring him that the £1,000,000 was about to be transferred to his account.
Suddenly, the victim received an official-looking email that purported to be from the "Ministry Of Finance". This message claimed that the Ministry had discovered that £1,000,000 was about to be sent to the victim but had put an immediate stop-order on the transfer until a "Non Residential Tax" had been paid. The message informed the victim that he must remit £500 to cover this tax and have the stop-order lifted. He was instructed to contact an agent from the Ministry Of Finance for more payment details. After contacting the agent as requested, he received the following reply:
Subject: MINISTRY OF FINANCE PAYMENT GUIDELINE
The Directorate-General for Tax and Customs PolicyMajor
Companies/Individuals Tax Unit Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA
Our Ref: MF/UK/CB-XX-02/08
RE: Procurement of Non residential tax Certificate.
You are to make payment to this office via our account officer.The preferred
and fastest method of payment is through WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER.
Locate any outlet near you and make the payment.
Immediately we confirm the receipt of the payment, your Non residential Tax
Clearance Certificate will be processed and given to you in less than 24 hrs
from the time of receipt of payment which you will inturn forward to the
CITI BANK to enable the transfer process of your funds be completed.
The fee for the Certificate as earlier said is 0.05% of your funds which is
To make payment find below the payment guildlines which should be made
through WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER to our account officer:
RECEIVER'S NAME: MR.JOHNSON MOORE.
RECEIVER'S ADDRESS: Buckingham Palace, London SW1A
As soon as you have made the payment, kindly send to us via email the
scanned payment slip.
Also write through email the following which is on your slip:
Test question and answer if any:
Immediately we confirm the receipt of this, your Non residential tax
clearance certificate will be prepared and given to you for you to go ahead
and claim your funds.
Note:The charges cannot be Deducted from your winnings.This is in accordance
with section 13(1)(n) of the National Gambling Act as adopted in 1993 and
amended on 3RD July 1996 by the constitutional assembly.This is to protect
winners and to avoid misappropriation of funds and win and win Situations.
Failure by you to abide to the lay down procedures and regulations, the
remittance of the fund would be stopped with immediate effect. Therefore,
the CITIBANK UNITED KINGDOM where hereby directed to stop further payment
modalities of the above-mentioned until a TAX CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE is
issued for the transfer of the said Funds.
Thanks in advance for your anticipated co-operation.
Mr.Smith Johnson (Esq.)
MINISTRY OF FINANCE DEPARTMENT
Thus, the victim was tricked into believing that the tax fee request was not from the lottery organization who initially contacted him, but from a completely separate government department. A seemingly official fee request from a government department might seem more legitimate and believable than a similar request from those supposedly organizing the lottery.
Of course, in reality, all of the emails were sent by the same scammer posing as different entities. It is not difficult to identify the "official" email as fraudulent. Firstly, although the message is supposedly from a UK government department, it includes a logo belonging to the Ministry of Finance in Thailand. Secondly, government departments DO NOT use free Yahoo email addresses. Thirdly, if the lottery organization was legitimate, it would already be aware of any tax obligations and would have mechanisms in place to deal with them long before a government department was forced to impose an emergency stop-order. Fourthly, tax and finance matters in the UK are handled by departments such as HM Revenue & Customs, HM Treasury, or the Financial Services Authority, not by the "Ministry of Finance". Nor do any of these departments operate out of Buckingham Palace (The Queen might not be amused).
Any email, fax or surface-mail letter that claims that you have won money in an international lottery that you have never entered is quite likely to be a scam. Do not be fooled by follow-up messages that pretend to be from third parties such as government departments or financial institutions as these messages are quite likely to be part of the same elaborate scam. In a similar ruse
, an email purporting to be from the FBI claimed that a previous Microsoft lottery notification sent to the recipient had been checked and found to be genuine.
The Hacker's Nightmare - Outstanding Computer Security Guidebook
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It then supplies detailed instructions about how to implement
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Bill Hely writes very well, and he has incorporated a great
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Regardless of whether you are a new computer user running a
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Polar Bear Playing With Husky Photographs
Email forward features a series of photographs showing a wild polar bear playing with a husky sled dog.
(Submitted, October 2007)
Subject: Polar bear playing with a sled dog...
Stuart Brown describes Norbert Rosing's
Striking images of a wild polar bear
Playing with sled dogs in the wilds
Of Canada's Hudson Bay.
The photographer was sure that he was going
To see the end of his huskies when the polar bear
Materialized out of the blue, as it were:
Obviously it was a well-fed Bear...
The Polar Bear returned every night that week to play with the dogs..
These photographs of a wild polar bear apparently playing with a sled dog are circulating via email and online. The photographs are genuine and were taken by renowned German wildlife photographer,
Norbert Rosing. Rosing has become well known for his remarkable photographs of polar bears of the Canadian Arctic and has visited the region a number of times. Information on Norbert Rosing's biography page
In 1988 he started his still ongoing project: The World of the Polar Bear. It covers the entire Canadian Arctic from Churchill / Manitoba to Pond Inlet and Cambridge Bay in Nunavut. He captured in photographs the life of the Inuit, Muskoxen, Atlantic Walrusses, Whales, the Aurora Borealis and of course the life circle of the Lord of the Arctic, the Polar Bear in which he has become a specialist. Out of this project many articles have been published for several magazines worldwide, including GEO Germany and National Geographic.
The particular sequence of images and the description featured in this email forward were apparently taken from a Speaking of Faith audio and slide show
by Dr. Stuart Brown
, an expert on animal and human play and founder of the National Institute for Play
. The photographs, along with more detailed information, are also published on the Institute's website with the title Why Didn't the Wild Polar Bear eat the Husky?
Loan Offer Advance Fee Scams
Unsolicited emails from supposed loan agencies claim that the recipient can borrow money for any purpose at a low interest rate.
(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: AFFORDABLE LOAN OFFER @3% INTEREST RATE
We Offer Private, Commercial and Personal Loans with
very Minimal annual Interest Rates as Low as 0.3% within a 1year
to 50 years repayment duration period to any part of the world.
We give out loans within the range of $5,000 to $90,000,000 USD.
Our loans are well insured for maximum security is our priority
Are you losing sleep at nights worrying how to get a Legit Loan
Lender? Are you biting your fingernails to the quick? Instead of
beating yourself up, call the Cindy Loan Investment now, Loan
specialists who help stop Bad Credit History, to discover a win-win
solution which is Our Mission.
* Are you financially Squeezed?
* Do you seek funds to pay off credits and debts?
* Do you seek finance to set up your own business?
* Are you in need of private or business loans for
* Do you seek loans to carry out large projects?
* Do you seek funding for various other processes?
* If you have any of the above problems, I can be
of assistance to you but I want you to understand
that I give out my loans at an interest rate of 0.4%.
* Borrow anything up to $90,000,000 USD.
* Choose between 1 to 50 years to repay.
* Choose between Monthly and Annual repayments Plan.
* Flexible Loan Terms.
Interested Persons should Fill out the Application
2)Prefix (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., etc.):
5)Business name(If Any):
6)Purpose of loan:
7)Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):
10)Next Of Kin:
14)Company name:(if Any )
21) Amount Needed As The Loan.......
Thanks For Your Co-operation
Mrs. Cindy Leonando
Among the garbage that clutters the average email inbox, it is not uncommon to see unsolicited emails offering low interest loans to recipients. Typically, the messages claim that unsecured loans are available for virtually any purpose and urge the recipient to "apply" via email.
The emails are not loan offers at all, but rather just one more version of the ubiquitous "Nigerian" or "419" advance-fee scam. Those who fall for the bait and apply for the offered "loan" will soon receive a reply advising them that their application has been successful. Sooner or later the scammers will claim that the victim must pay certain specified fees before their loan transaction can be completed. The scammers have a variety of ready-made excuses explaining why these fees are necessary and cannot be avoided. They may claim that the money is to cover application fees, insurance fees, bank fees, tax fees or any one of a host of other entirely fictional charges. Typically, the scammers will keep asking the victim to pay further fees until he or she finally realizes what is actually happening and stops sending money. Of course, the victim will never receive a cent of the promised loan and is quite unlikely to recover any money that he or she has already submitted.
In a sinister variant of this scam, the scammers will send their victim a cheque, ostensibly as part-payment of the loan. The victim will be instructed to bank the cheque and then wire a specified portion of it back to the scammers to cover transaction fees. In some cases, the scammers may send a money order rather than a cheque. However, the cheque or money order will later turn out to be stolen or forged. The transaction trail will lead police directly to the victim and he or she may be held responsible for receiving stolen funds and be left out of pocket as well. Like money-transfer job scams
and lottery cheque scams
this ruse offers scammers an effective means of laundering their ill-gotten gains.
The scammers may also try to collect enough personal information about their victim to allow them to steal his or her identity. In the above example, the scammers request quite a lot of information as part of the bogus loan application. During the course of their subsequent dialog with their victim, they may try to gather even more sensitive information until they have enough to commit identity theft.
It is not difficult to recognize bogus loan offers such as these. No legitimate financial institution would randomly offer unsecured loans by distributing unsolicited emails. Legitimate lenders who advertise their services on the Internet are likely to have an official website offering more information and publish contact information such as phone numbers and an office mailing address. And they almost certainly would not use a free web-based email account such as Gmail or Yahoo to contact potential clients.
Like other versions of the Nigerian advance fee scam
, the best way to deal with these bogus loan offer emails is simply to delete them. Do not reply to such emails or respond to them in any way.
Subject: Are You In Need Of A Loan???
Payment Transfer Job Scam Emails - Laundering Scams
Lottery Cheque Scams
Nigerian Scams - 419 Scam Information
I am Mr Joseph Maxwell from Joseph Loan Agency, we are a registered and
approved loan lender, we have some amount of money to give out as a loan to
any interested persons for any purpose as low as5% interest rate.if you need
a loan,such as student loan, personal loan, secured and unsecured loan, long
and short term loan, car loan and any kinds of loan.
For more information and advise please contact us via e-mail:
Icelift Free Human Hibernation Email Forward
Email claims that recipients who forward the message to at least five other people have a chance to have their body frozen free for 50 years by new human cryogenics company, IceLift.
(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: Live 50 years for FREE
Don't miss this GREAT OPPORTUNITY! You won't pay a buck for next 50 YEARS!
And you may transfer this right to ANY person!
Just send this mail to at least five friends and - write to cc the address
Here is the EXPLANATION:
IceLift.com company promotes its new service of human hibernation for 50 years
and this mail is something like its advertisement. Everybody who sends it to at
least five persons (and one copy to Icelift) attends a big draw - and the winner
gets FREEZING for 50 years for free. The prize is transferrable to any person.
Don't miss the PRIZE!
Send this mail to 5 people NOW! DON'T forget to send a copy to [Removed]!
According to this email, the recipient can go in the draw to win 50 years of human hibernation provided by IceLift, a company that claims it will soon be offering human cryogenic services to clients. The message claims that all the recipient has to do to enter the draw is forward the email to 5 or more other people.
IceLift is apparently a real entity, although it is not yet fully operational. Details about the company are so far rather sketchy, but it does have a website
that presents some information about cryogenic services soon to be offered. At first glance, the email forward may seem like a thinly disguised, if rather lame, attempt to promote the new company. However, Mary Wanecki, the PR & Marketing manager of IceLift, has assured me that the company is not responsible for the email forward although they are aware of its existence.
The email is similar to a long line of other giveaway hoaxes
, including the free Sony Ericsson phone hoax
. No legitimate, sensibly run company is likely to use the random forwarding of an email to offer promotional giveaways of this nature. Such emails can continue circulating for years, cluttering inboxes and wasting the time of company staff who must answer endless questions about the fake promotions featured in the messages.
According to the IceLift website
, the project has the necessary technology to effectively slow down human functions so that a participant would only age about 482 days if "frozen" for fifty years. Therefore, claims the site, participants can be unfrozen in the future and begin a new life. Many readers would consider these claims to be quite incredible, the stuff of science fiction. Others may believe that the supposed project is no more than a prank. However, Mary Wanecki insists that the project is not a joke and promises that more information will be published within the next few months. The true status of the IceLift project will perhaps be more apparent when this new information becomes available.
Other companies have offered human cryogenic services
in the past. However, these companies have basically operated on the quite questionable premise that a future society will have gained the necessary technology to revive and reanimate their clients. Thus, if it turns out that this future society has not achieved such a sophisticated level of technology after all, clients of these companies are likely to linger indefinitely as human popsicles.
Regardless of the IceLift Project's status, now or in the future, it presents an interesting concept and is bound to create a lot of lively debate. I will await further developments with interest.
Sony Ericsson Phone Giveaway Hoax
Human hibernation project - IceLift
Corpses Frozen for Future Rebirth by Arizona Company
Men's Room Mural Photograph
Email with an attached photograph of a mural placed above urinals in a men's room claims that the mural was created by staff at an "all-women" design company for a New York office project.
Mural is real - description is false
(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: FW: Men's Restroom "Mural"
Too good not to share!
Men's Restroom "Mural" Read before looking at picture
Edge Designs is an all-women run company that designs interior office space.They had a recent opportunity to do an office project in NYC The client allowed the women of this company a free hand in all design aspects.The client was a company that was also run by women execs..........
The result, well, we all know that men never talk, never look at each other and never laugh much in the restroom....The men's room is a serious and quiet place.....
But now...with the addition of one mural on the wall......
Everything has changed ...
This rather startling photograph of a mural above the urinals in a men's room has been circulating via email and online since 2005. The mural depicted in the photograph is real. However, the current version of the message includes a description that is totally false and was apparently tacked onto the photograph at some point during its journey through cyberspace.
The description claims that an "all-women" company called "Edge Designs" created the mural for a NYC office project. However, the mural was actually designed by Perron Developments
and graces a second floor men's loo in a Sofitel hotel in Queenstown
, New Zealand.
An October 2005 article on Hotel Industry News
The second floor men's toilet, which services the complex's restaurants including Bezu and Fatz Cat, has been tastefully and aesthetically designed by the complex's developers Cam Marsh and Mark Perriam of Perron, and Brett Taylor of Group CDA. It features six unique individual 'stands' manufactured by Three Sixty Limited in Auckland.
But it's not the tasteful design or subtle lighting that has tongues wagging in the New Zealand resort town.
It is the six-metre long backdrop of life-size photographs featuring local models in varying poses directly behind each of the six stands - each with a full view of the action.
The shots were taken by photographer Sheena Haywood and feature models from Ican Modelling, a Queenstown agency.
It is unclear where the description's references to "Edge Designs" originated. The description and, the "all-women run company" may have been simply made up as a fictional cover story to go with the photograph. There are
several companies named "Edge Designs" located in various parts of the world. However, none that I could find bear any resemblance to the company described in the message.
Moreover, the original version of the message contained only the following, short but accurate, description:
Check out the new men's loo at the Sofitel in Queenstown NZ!
A post on the Politics in the Zeros
blog also features the mural and includes a comment by Peter Dallimore of Perron Developments. In his comment, Dallimore explains how his company designed and produced the men's room wall and he dismisses the "Edge Designs" information as "totally fictitious".
Thus, the current version of this message is just one more in a long line of email forwards that contain genuine photographs that have been attached to false or inaccurate descriptions.
Queenstown, New Zealand Hotel Unzips Eye-opening New Loo
Politics in the Zeros: Men's restroom mural
Update: Lead in Lipstick Alert - Cancer Causing Lipstick
Email claims that certain brands of lipstick contain dangerous amounts of lead and can cause cancer. The message includes a list of lipstick brands and instructions for testing lipsticks for lead content.
Misleading and inaccurate, although a recent study indicates that some lipsticks do contain small amounts of lead.
(Submitted, January 2006)
If there is a female you care anything about, share this with her. I did!!!!!
I am also sharing this with the males on my email list, because they need to tell the females THEY care about as well!
Recently a brand called "Red Earth" decreased their prices from $67 to $9.90. It contained lead. Lead is a chemical which causes cancer.
The Brands which contain lead are:
1.. CHRISTIAN DIOR
5. ESTEE LAUDER
7. RED EARTH (Lip Gloss)
8. CHANEL (Lip Conditioner)
9. MARKET AMERICA-MOTNES LIPSTICK.
The higher the lead content, the greater the chance of causing cancer.
After doing a test on lipsticks, it was found that the Y.S.L. lipstick contained the most amount of lead.
Watch out for those lipsticks which are supposed to stay longer. If your lipstick stays longer, it is because of the higher content of lead.
Here is the test you can do yourself:
1. Put some lipstick on your hand.
2. Use a Gold ring to scratch on the lipstick.
3. If the lipstick color changes to black then you know the lipstick contains lead.
Please send this information to all your girlfriends, wives and female family members. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Dioxin Carcinogens causes cancer, especially breast cancer.
This email forward warns that certain prominent brands of lipstick contain dangerous amounts of lead and can cause cancer in those who use them. Although a 2007 study
by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has found that some lipsticks do have higher than expected levels of lead, this email forward is not related to that study and contains highly misleading and inaccurate information.
Health authorities worldwide have long known the dangers associated with lead exposure. Most have strict guidelines that regulate the level of lead in consumer products, including cosmetics. Regulatory and industry bodies such as the FDA
in the US, the
in the UK, the European Commission
and similar institutions in other nations control the substances that can be added to cosmetic products.
The current version of the email claims that the information originates from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. However, this claim is highly suspect. There is no mention of such a warning published on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center website
. Furthermore, this apparent endorsement and the mention of Dioxin Carcinogens also appear in another email hoax
that warns of links between plastic use and cancer. Apparently, the Walter Reed reference was copied verbatim from one hoax email and tacked on to the other in a fruitless attempt to add a measure of credibility.
Another aspect of the email also casts doubt on the authenticity of its claims. While long-term lead exposure can indeed lead to cancer, it is also indicated in other serious health issues such as stroke and kidney disease. Even short-term exposure can have adverse health effects, including impact on blood cell chemistry and developmental issues in children. In spite of this, the "warning" focuses purely on the potential cancer link and ignores other equally serious lead related health issues. It is doubtful that a genuine, medically endorsed warning message would mention only one of the health risks inherent in lead exposure.
The "test" outlined in the message is also highly misleading. According to information available from
New Zealand's COSMETIC TOILETRY & FRAGRANCES ASSOCIATION, the "reactions described in the email occur when the test is done with any metal and just using plain wax which is a core component of most lipsticks." My own random testing revealed that dark streaks appear to be left in a variety of substances by a variety of metals, even copper on plain old candle wax. Thus an apparently "positive" result for this test does not effectively indicate the presence of lead. Reliably detecting the presence of lead in a substance generally requires scientific testing or at least the use of specialized lead testing kits. This supposed "test" seems to be a corrupted version of the ancient touchstone method of testing the purity of gold by examining the streak left when gold was scraped against a dark stone. Clearly, instructions for conducting this fake test were only included in the email to trick recipients into believing its claims.
Thus the information in this email is highly misleading and inaccurate and it should not be forwarded to others as is.
That said, a recent study
by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics indicates that some lipsticks do contain small amounts of lead. Although the results of this study are cause for concern, they in no way vindicate the misinformation contained in this email forward. Stacy Malkan, a cofounder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is genuinely concerned about the findings of the study. However, an article
on the issue notes:
Malkan said that lead in lipstick is a valid concern, borne out by the campaign's tests. But she dismissed the cancer scare and a suggestion that consumers can test for lead by scratching lipstick with a gold ring.
In fact, lead is common element in our environment and we are likely to be exposed to it every day from a variety of sources. The potential danger is that the tiny amounts of lead contained in some lipsticks could accumulate along with other lead sources and eventually cause health issues.
FDA/CFSAN Cosmetics - Information for Industry
The CTPA :The Cosmetic Toiletry Perfumery Association :Cosmetic legislation
European Commission: Cosmetics and Medical Devices - Introduction
FDA: General specifications for straight colors
Walter Reed Army Medical Center website
COSMETIC TOILETRY & FRAGRANCES ASSOCIATION:Lead and Cosmetics (PDF FILE AVAILABLE)
WHAT'S THAT STUFF?: Lipstick
Cancer Help: Lead in lipstick causing cancer
Lead Poisoning - NSC
FDA/CFSAN FDA Consumer: Dangers of Lead Still Linger
EPA Consumer Factsheet on: LEAD
Lead tests raise red flag for lipsticks
Strongest Dog In The World Photograph
Email with an attached photograph of a very muscular canine claims that the dog is the strongest in the world and works for the Russian Army.
Real dog - Description is false
(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: Strongest dog in the world
The strongest Dog in the World. Working in Russian Army Special Forces.
According to the caption that accompanies a circulating photograph of an unusually muscular canine, the pictured dog is the strongest in the world and works for the Russian Army. At first glance, many may assume that the image has been manipulated. However, the photograph is genuine and depicts a real animal. On the other hand, the claims in the photograph's caption are inaccurate.
According to a July 2007 Daily Mail article
, the hulking canine in the photograph is a whippet named Wendy who was born with a genetic defect which caused her to grow larger and much more muscular than others of her breed:
While her head, heart, lungs and legs are the size of those of a normal whippet, her gene defect means she is "double muscled".
She weighs 4st4lb - twice as much as she should - and has bulging neck muscles, burly shoulders and haunches like a baboon. And unlike ordinary whippets known for their lithe and narrow frame, this four-year-old pedigree doesn't just have a sixpack stomach, she has a 24-pack.
A June 2007 New York Times article
reports that Wendy and others like her - dubbed "bully whippets" - have become the subjects of scientific testing.
When mutant, muscle-bound puppies started showing up in litters of champion racing whippets, the breeders of the normally sleek dogs invited scientists to take DNA samples at race meets here and across the country. They hoped to find a genetic cause for the condition and a way to purge it from the breed.
It worked. "Bully whippets," as the heavyset dogs are known, turn out to have a genetic mutation that enhances muscle development.
In spite of her somewhat fearsome appearance, Wendy's owner claims that
she is a friendly animal who "likes nothing better than a good back scratch and isn't shy about sitting in your lap to ask for one". And far from living a spartan life as a Russian Army dog, Wendy enjoys a relaxed and healthy life on a farm in Victoria, Canada.
Research indicates that there have been many contenders for the title of "Strongest dog in the World", but no clear and confirmed winner has so far emerged. And, in fact, reports about Wendy make no claims that she is the world's strongest dog.
A report in the PLoS Genetics journal
offers in-depth scientific information about the genetic mutation that caused Wendy's double-muscled appearance.
Meet the Incredible Hulk of Hounds
As Breeders Test DNA, Dogs Become Guinea Pigs
Big Wendy the muscular whippet
A Mutation in the Myostatin Gene Increases Muscle Mass and Enhances Racing Performance in Heterozygote Dogs
Giant Alligator Gar Photographs
Email forward with attached photographs of a very large alligator gar claims that the fish was caught in Broken Bow Lake, Oklahoma and weighed 327 lbs.
Genuine photographs - Description is inaccurate
(Submitted, August 2007)
Subject: Fwd: Why you shouldn't swim in lakes in Oklahoma!!!!
Why you shouldn't swim in lakes in Oklahoma!!!!
Caught at Broken Bow Lake Oklahoma.
8' - 10'
This is why people just disappear from the lakes in Oklahoma!
And yes, this is for real.
These photographs of fishermen with a very large alligator gar are circulating via email and have also been posted to various online forums.
The photographs are genuine. However, in spite of the claims made in captions overlaying the images, the monster alligator gar was not caught in Broken Bow Lake, Oklahoma nor did it weigh 327 lbs.
The gar was actually caught by Keith Riehn and Robin Parks at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas in 2005. According to an August 2005 field journal entry
published on the Aim Low Productions website, the gar weighed in at 244.5 lbs and was 8' 2" long. The entry describes in detail how the two Missouri bowfishermen made the catch and includes a link to one of the photographs included above. The photographs used in the above email message are also displayed in a photo gallery
elsewhere on the site. These photographs do not include the "Broken Bow Lake" captions, which were apparently added later.
A September 2005 Dallas Morning News article also confirms the catch
Using archery tackle that would suit Luke Skywalker, two Missouri archers won a tag-team version of gar wars at Sam Rayburn Lake, bagging a gigantic alligator gar that weighed 244 ½ pounds. It is the pending Bowfishing Association of America world record. The giant fish is not, however, the largest of its species taken with bow and arrow in Texas.
Seemingly, some prankster has attempted to claim undeserved regional credit by adding captions to the photographs that relocate the catch to Broken Bow Lake, Oklahoma and significantly exaggerate the recorded weight of the fish. A post on the Oklahoma Fishing Stories
blog also debunks the hoax. The post notes that the current unrestricted division alligator gar record for Oklahoma is a 184 pound fish caught by Sean Chatham in the Red River, Love County.
The prank message also suggests that giant alligator gar like the one pictured are responsible for the disappearance of people in Oklahoma lakes. There have been some rare reports of humans being bitten by alligator gar when fishing or dangling feet or hands in the water, but these bites are not considered deliberate predatory attacks. Although alligator gar are quite fearsome in appearance, there is no evidence to support the claim that they have ever fatally attacked humans. A Florida Museum of Natural History write-up about alligator gar
Due to its large size and sharp teeth, the alligator gar is capable of delivering a serious bite wound to fisherman or swimmers. However, there is no documentation of attacks on man by alligator gars. The eggs are poisonous, causing illness if consumed by humans.
The largest recorded alligator gar was a 350 lbs giant caught during the 1930's in the Saint Francis River, Arkansas.
FIELD JOURNALS ARCHIVE - BOW FISHING 2005
PHOTO GALLERY - 2005 TEXAS BOWFISHING TRIP
Dallas Morning News: Gar ... gantuan
Broken Bow Alligator Gar Hoax
Florida Museum of Natural History Ichthyology Department: Alligator Gar
Yahoo Account Deletion Hoax
Email claims that if the recipient does not send the message on to at least ten other people his or her Yahoo account will be deleted.
(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: Yahoo Accounts Deletion
Dear YAHOO User
Because of the sudden rush of people signing up to YAHOO, it has come to our attention that we are vastly running out of resources. So, within a month's time,anyone who does not receive this email with the exact subject heading,will be deleted off our server. Please forward this email so that we know you are still using this account.
We want to find out which users are actually using their YAHOO accounts. So if you are using your account, please pass this e-mail to every YAHOO user that you can and IF YOU DO NOT PASS this letter to anyone we will delete your account.
From Mr. ALLEN SMITH
YAHOO Admin. Dept.
Our YAHOO system is getting to crowded!! We need you to forward this to at least 20 people. I know this seems like a large number, but we need to find out who is really using their account. If you do not send t his to at least 10 YAHOO members, we will delete your account. Sorry for this inconvenience.
Sincerely, Director of YAHOO Services
According to this email forward, Yahoo is "running out of resources" and is intending to close the accounts of members who do not pass the warning on to at least ten other people. However, this "warning" is entirely bogus and should not be taken seriously. Versions of the hoax that target Yahoo and a host of other online services have circulated continually since the late 1990's.
Although the colourful gussied up example shown above may seem a smidgen more "official" than some of the more amateurish versions that circulate, it is nonetheless a load of nonsense. Any message that claims that you need to forward an email to a certain number of people in order to retain membership of a service is virtually certain to be a hoax. No legitimate company, including Yahoo, is ever likely to impose such an absurd and uncontrollable requirement on its members.
The following links point to articles debunking other versions of the hoax:
These types of hoaxes are "successful" because they have an effective mechanism for self-propagation built right into their message. Many people forward these messages "just in case they are true". But, even if only a small percentage of recipients pass them on to ten or more of their friends, the amount of copies circulating can soon escalate into the hundreds of thousands.
Thus, such hoaxes do no more than waste bandwidth, clutter inboxes and make the sender look foolish. Please do not forward them.
Snake Inside Computer Photographs
Email with attached photographs claims that a technician found a snake inside a computer after the user reported hearing hissing noises and a bad smell.
The photographs are genuine and they do indeed show a dead snake found inside a computer. However, the description has been somewhat embellished.
(Submitted, September 2007)
Subject: Fwd: computer problems
'Hello, technical support, how can I help you?'
'Last night my computer started making a lot of hissing noise at me so I shut it down. This morning when I turned it on the computer started hissing and cracking, then started smoking and a bad smell, then nothing.'
'I will have a technician come over first thing this morning, just leave the computer just like it is, so they can find the problem and fix it, or change it out with another computer. Give me your address; phone number and the technician will be there just as soon as they can'
When the technician got there, the lady showed the technician where the computer was, told him what happened to it and this is what the technician found wrong. Take a look at the pictures...! And you thought you had computer problems!
The technician told her it must have been after the mouse! The woman didn't think it was very funny at all.
This email forward tells the tale of a woman who called technical support after her computer started producing strange hissing noises, a bad smell, and smoke before it stopped working completely. According to the message, when the technician arrived to diagnose the problem, he found a recently deceased snake inside the computer tower. Photographs that accompany the message show the hapless reptile being removed from its unusual hiding place, apparently after being electrocuted.
The photographs are genuine and the snake was indeed found dead inside the computer by a technician. However, the description that comes with the photographs has been somewhat embellished.
Reader Wendy Collett contacted me with details about the discovery. She explains:
I can give you the original story of the situation.
The technician who’s hands are shown in the photos is Brian Fox (now deceased), from Brisbane, Australia.
He was called to a job site which was a gardening/grass-growing farm in the general area of Boonah, Queensland, Australia, which the office area had some small holes in the walls, and sometimes had vermin in the office area. The office people called him one day because their computer wasn’t working when it was turned on (they had heard a hissing noise when they turned it on), and he came to site. He first put his hand around the back of the computer to ‘feel’ whether the cords were all in place, then he spun the computer around to find the snake!
The snake is a baby red-belly black snake, which is highly deadly (when alive). It apparently crawled into the computer seeking the warmth of the computer fan after it was turned off for the day, and got electrocuted on the power source on the way out.
This happened in approximately 2002/2003.
Brian gave me a copy of the photos, and I put them on the website I had at the time, and shared the information with a newsgroup forum I used to help moderate for the GoldMine program, called www.contactreview.com (original website since disappeared) - within a couple of days, it was the most popular items on my website, and I had many international visitors having a look. I took down my old website in about 2006, so these photos have certainly been circulating a long time!
The tech support story has been made up, and there was never anything about it being a mouse. Brian did tell me that he never again put his hand behind a computer before first checking visually that there was no more snakes, and he also told me that the grass-growing farm had the holes in the office wall fixed immediately afterwards.
Brian was a bit of a joker and always enjoyed a laugh, but I can guarantee, this was deadly serious, and he took the photos because he thought nobody would believe him if he didn’t!
Sadly, Brian passed away about 2 years ago, so he is unable to speak for himself on this situation, but I hope you enjoy the REAL story of the photos, and learn from the lesson – ALWAYS visually check behind your computer before you reach to ‘feel’ the cords!
As Wendy notes, Red-bellied Black Snake
are venomous and certainly pose a danger to humans. The species is found in eastern Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and south-eastern South Australia.
Thank you very much to Wendy Collett for taking the time to contact me about this story and for her kind permission to republish her explanation here. Wendy adds that the updated story would be a fitting tribute to Brian Fox's memory, noting "I'm sure he is looking down on us right now, having a great laugh over the thought of being an 'urban legend' on the internet".
Red-bellied Black Snake
Hoax-Slayer Humour: FBI Security Announcement
FBI Security has announced they will soon be implementing new software
which will record every click of your mouse, in their efforts to track
It is their belief that the average user will not notice any difference in computer performance.
By the way, if you enjoy a good laugh you should check out the "That's Comedy! Joke Book", a fun-filled eBook that is simply packed with hundreds of very funny jokes!
The book comes in PDF, which means you can download it straight after purchase and easily read it right on your computer screen. The eBook runs to well over 400 pages, so there are enough jokes to keep even the most funny hungry reader amused for quite some time. The jokes are clearly formatted and divided into chapters for
easy access - a far cry from the garbled funnies that often
circulate via email.
I consider this book to be very good value and I'm happy to add it
to the small list of products that I'm willing to promote as an affiliate. And, by purchasing a copy, you can provide vital support for Hoax-Slayer as well as give yourself many a good laugh!
I am an affiliate for the "That's Comedy! Joke Book". For more information please refer to my Affiliate Marketing Policy
Links to Other Recent Articles
The links below lead to recent Hoax-Slayer articles that have not been included in this issue of the newsletter due to size restrictions:
The Hoax-Slayer Newsletter is published by:
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©Brett M. Christensen, 2008