Issue 77 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 77: November, 2007
This month in Hoax-Slayer:
A Free Monthly Web-Based Newsletter brought
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Interesting Old Human Formation Pictures
Message contains several old human formation photographs that depict the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, the American Eagle symbol, the US Shield and more. The images are created by thousands of US soldiers and sailors standing in formation.
(Submitted, November 2007)
SOME VERY INTERESTING OLD PICTURES
Unusual old pictures!
Look closely at the pictures, they are soldiers and sailors.
During the WW I years, Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas Made some incredible human pictures by using Thousands of sailors or soldiers in uniform to create the following images.
These intriguing old photographs circulate via email and online. The photographs are genuine and were created by Arthur Mole and John Thomas during the early years of the 20th Century. Mole and Thomas created a whole series of human formation pictures representing important religious and military related symbols, including the Liberty Bell, complete with crack, the Statue of Liberty, the American Eagle, a "portrait" of President Wilson, the US Shield, and a number of others. These living representations of revered symbols of American patriotism were used to promote support of America's involvement in the 1st World War.
Mole called his creations "living photographs". The images took a great deal of time and effort to set up, and required the help of many thousands of individual soldiers and sailors. An article
about Thomas and Mole's work on Cabinet Magazine Online notes:
Mole and Thomas would spend a week or more on preparations for each photograph. This began by tracing the desired image on a ground-glass plate mounted on Mole’s camera. Using a megaphone, body language, and a long pole with a white flag tied to the end to point to the more remote areas where the bulk of the troops had to be stationed, Mole would then position his helpers on the field as they nailed the pattern to the ground with miles of lace edging. In this way, Mole also figured out the exact number of troops required. These steps were preliminary to the many hours required to assemble and position the troops on the day of shooting. For The Human Liberty Bell, Mole and Thomas traveled to Camp Dix, New Jersey (not far from the City of Brotherly Love), to assemble 25,000 troops in the shape of this national icon.
In a time when images can be manipulated with ease using sophisticated software, one can certainly appreciate the dedication and perseverance that would have been required to create these wonderful old photographs. Works by Mole and Thomas are housed in collections at the Library of Congress
, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Museum of Modern Art.
The Library of Congress: Mole and Thomas
Dead Troops Salute
Christmas Cards for Recovering American Soldiers
Message claims that people can send Christmas greetings to wounded soldiers by addressing cards to "A Recovering American soldier" care of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Addressing information is incorrect - See commentary below for valid instructions for sending Holiday Mail for Heroes
(Submitted, November 2008)
Subject: FW: Christmas Cards
GREAT IDEA!! When doing your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to this address. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful special people who have sacrificed so much would get.
When you are making out your Christmas card list this year, please include the following:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
If you approve, please pass it on.
This message advises recipients that they can send Christmas cards addressed to "A Recovering American soldier" care of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. While this might seem like a good way to show support for wounded soldiers, the information in the message is incorrect. Cards sent to "A Recovering American soldier" or similar will not
be accepted by Walter Reed Army Medical Center. However, cards can
be sent to servicemembers via the "Holiday Mail for Heroes" campaign operated by the American Red Cross. An announcement on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center explains
The American Red Cross is sponsoring a national "Holiday Mail for Heroes" campaign to receive and distribute holiday cards to servicemembers and veterans both in the United States and abroad.
Holiday Mail for Heroes, which began Tuesday, Veterans Day, is a follow-up to the 2007 effort that resulted in the collection and distribution of more than 600,000 cards to hospitalized servicemembers. This year's program will expand its reach to not only wounded servicemembers but also veterans and their families. The goal is to collect and distribute 1 million pieces of holiday mail.
"As we enter this holiday season-a time to celebrate with family and friends-it's important to remember the thousands of men and women who serve our nation in harm's way and those who are recovering in military and veterans hospitals," said Army Col. Norvell V. Coots, commander, Walter Reed Health Care System. "The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is a wonderful outreach effort and a great way to acknowledge the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform."
Holiday cards should be mailed to:
Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD. 20791-5456
All cards must be postmarked no later than Dec. 10. Cards should not be mailed or delivered to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Further details about the campaign are available on the American Red Cross website. The article notes
The Red Cross is partnering with Pitney Bowes this holiday season for the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign. For the second year in a row, we're collecting holiday cards to distribute to American service members, veterans and their families in the United States and around the world. Pitney Bowes is generously donating technology, resources and postage to make this holiday card program possible.
Our goal is to collect and distribute one million holiday cards to spread holiday cheer and facilitate thanks to these brave individuals and families.
For full guidelines for sending cards, please refer to the Red Cross website
Holiday mail program for servicemembers under way
Holiday Mail for Heroes
Overseas Artist Job Offer Scam
Emails claim that an artist needs a part time employee to process foreign cheques and money orders and will pay the employee a percentage of all funds processed.
(Submitted, October 2007)
Hello Dear Friend,
My name is Garry Williams, I am an artist with my wife Pia Wahlenberg and we are the owners of DaPia Art Gallerie and We live in Sweden, europe. I make original Sculptural Paintings and sell Limited Edition Prints. I create artwork that combines sculpture and painting using sheets of wood, metal, and glass to create depth.
I have sold in galleries and to private collectors from all around the world. I am always facing serious difficulties when it comes to selling my art works to my U.S and Canadian customers as they are always offering to pay with cheques and money orders, which is difficult for me to cash here in Sweden. It takes a minimum of four weeks to clear our banks here in Sweden as they are been treated as out of country cheques.
We are looking for a reliable and trustworthy representative in the States who will be working for me as a part time worker and I will be willing to pay 10% for every transaction, which wouldn't affect your present state of work. I need a representative in the United States who will be handling the payment aspect.
All the payments are in certified cheques or money orders and my customers will issue them (payments) in your name and send to you. So all you need do is to take the cheques to your bank and cash them, then deduct your 10% and wire the balance back to us in Sweden. This business will not cost you any amount of money, my customers will send payments to you through registered mail as soon as you receive the package just take these payments to your bank and have them cashed.
The following will be required of you once you show interest to work for me:
1. Your full name
2. Your complete address
6. Telephone number
IF INTERESTED, PLEASE REPLY TO: email@example.com
We wish you good luck and happiness.
Dapia Art Gallerie Sweden
According to this email, an artist based in Sweden is facing difficulties processing foreign cheques and money orders submitted by overseas buyers of his works. Therefore, claims the message, the artist needs a part time worker based in the US who is able to bank the funds locally and then wire the balance back to Sweden. And, as payment, the worker can deduct and keep 10% of each transaction.
However, the "artist" in question is in fact a scam-artist, not the type that paints or sculpts. To some recipients who are unaware of the nefarious ways of Internet fraudsters, this scheme may seem legitimate and an easy way to generate extra income. But, in reality, the scheme is nothing more than a money laundering scam designed to help criminals convert the proceeds of fraud to untraceable cash.
Any cheques and money orders that the hapless "worker" receives and processes are likely to be fake or stolen. The financial institution handling the transactions may actually release the funds and only find out later that the cheques or money orders are bogus. By that time, the proceeds, minus the 10% "commission", have been wired overseas to the criminal responsible. Thus, while the criminal can simply disappear with his ill-gotten gains, the recipient may be left out of pocket. Worse, if the police are able to track the movement of the stolen funds to the "worker", he or she could even be convicted of theft or fraud.
If the worker has been tricked into divulging enough sensitive personal information, he or she may become a victim of identity theft as well.
Regardless of the cover story put forward, people should be very cautious of any funds-processing job that instructs them to deduct a percentage of the received funds and wire the balance to an overseas destination. It is very doubtful that any legitimate business would operate in such a way. If a legitimate business did need an overseas-based worker to process funds, it is exceptionally unlikely that it would hire someone for such a sensitive position, sight unseen, via an unsolicited email. If such workers were required, they would be carefully vetted beforehand. If they were found to be suitable for the position, they would be officially hired and then subsequently remunerated via legitimate channels such as a set wage or a separately payed commission. They certainly would not be instructed to "self-pay" by deducting a specified percentage from processed funds.
There are several variants of this "overseas artist" ruse that use different names and countries. The following example claims the artist is based in London. Other examples I have received claim to originate from Tokyo and various other cities in the UK, Asia and Africa.
Subject: JOB OFFER(Earn 10% Representing Us)
My name is Terry Dickson , I am an artist base in the united kingdom. I
own Terry ART WORLD in London (United Kingdom)I live in London United
Kingdom. I have been doing artwork since I was a small child That gives me
about 28 years of experience I majored in art in high school and took a few
college art courses Most of my work is done in either pencil or art brush.
I have recently added designing and creating artwork on the computer
AND sculpture , I have been selling my art for the last 3 years and have had
my work featured on trading cards, prints and in magazines, I have sold in
galleries and to private collectors from all around the world. I am always
facing serious difficulties when it comes to selling my art works to
Americans, they are alwa ys offering to pay with momey order or casher\'s
cheque, which is difficult for me to cash here in London United Kingdom.
I am looking for a representative in the United States Of America who
will be working for me as a part time worker and i will be willing to
pay 10% for every transaction, which wouldn\'t affect your present state of
work, someone who would help me receive payments from my customers in the
states, I mean someone that is responsible and reliable, because the cost of
coming to the state and getting payments is very expensive, I am working on
setting up a branch in the state, so for now i need a representative in the
United States Of America who will be handling the payment aspect for our
These payments are in order or casher's cheque and they wouldcome to you in
your name if you are willing to assist as a representative, so all you need
do is cash the money order deduct your percentage and western union Charges
then wire the r e st back.
NOTE: All charges of the Western Union money transfer or Money
Gram.will be deducted from the money, so you are rest assured that you
wouldn't spend a dime out of your personal money.If you are interested,
please get back to me as soon as possible via email.
N: B, Please send to me the listed information below to this email address
#Your full name:
#Your full home address,
#direct contact telephone number
I will be needing your home address, so that I will forward it to my
customers to send you the casher's cheque . via Fedex or overnight
Thanks for your assistant and God bless.
Terry Dickson .
CEO Terry ART INC,
London, United Kingdom.
+44 701113 8755
Please remember to send your information to this email address
Regardless of the supposed location of the "artist" all such job offers are scams. For more information about money laundering scams, see:
Payment Transfer Job Scam Emails - Laundering Scams
Thirty-Two AA Batteries From One 6-Volt Lantern Battery Video
Widely circulated video supposedly shows how to save money by extracting 32 AA batteries from one 6-volt lantern battery.
Unsubstantiated - Probably untrue
(Submitted, October 2007)
Subject: 6 volt battery hack..
Save money on batteries ...have a look at this video..
From time to time, a particularly intriguing item will seemingly fire the imagination of the online community and create a great deal of debate and speculation. One such item is the above video, which supposedly shows how to "hack" a typical 6-volt lantern battery and extract 32 AA batteries from the larger battery's innards. According to the video, consumers can save a lot of money over time by using these hidden AA batteries in other devices such as digital cameras. After all, one 6-volt battery is considerably less expensive than 32 AA batteries.
Sadly however, it appears that the great majority of 6-volt batteries do not contain 32 AA batteries at all, but rather an array of four cells. It is unclear if the video is genuine or just a prank designed to fool curious viewers into dismantling their lantern batteries for no good reason. Given that the group that produced the video is called "Gag Films", an organization
that specializes in hosting short comedy movies, it seems quite likely that the video is indeed a prank.
If it is
a prank, it has certainly been a very successful one. Some googling on the issue indicates that many people around the world have (sometimes literally) hacked their 6-volt batteries to discover what might be hidden inside. Not wanting to be left out, I decided I should go battery mining as well. I found an old and degraded 6-volt battery to use. The following photographs show the disappointing results of my expedition:
It may just be possible to cram 32 AA batteries into a 6-volt battery case, 8 per quadrant, although it would be a very tight fit:
I then procured a new 6-volt battery of another brand to use in a second hack attempt. Alas, this battery also contained only 4 larger cells, not 32 AA's:
One shot in the film shows the "hacker" just beginning to open the top of the battery case with a screwdriver. However, in the next shot, the entire top appears to be loose. Thus, the filmmaker could have removed the four large cells, and replaced them with 32 AA sized batteries before filming the final top-opening sequence.
In any case, a "Heavy Duty" label typically means that the battery is of the carbon zinc type. Thus, even if the 6-volt battery did contain 32 AA batteries, they would probably be low-powered carbon zinc and would not last very long in high-powered devices such as digital cameras. You can often buy these cheap AA batteries in bulk at discount stores, although, in my experience, they go flat so quickly that any perceived saving is actually quite small.
Some commentators have suggested that it might be only the particular brand of 6-volt battery shown in the video that contains the AA's. This brand of battery is not available in my area, so I could not test this theory personally. However, a photograph and caption on flickr
indicate that at least some batteries of this brand contain the four larger cells like other 6-volts.
In spite of the widespread and lively debate that the video has generated, I have not yet found a single credible report that claims to have successfully duplicated this "hack". So, even if the video is not fake and some 6-volt batteries do contain the treasure-trove of smaller batteries, then they are seemingly as rare as the proverbial hens teeth.
Flickr: 6-Volt Walgreens Battery
6 VOLT BATTERY "HACK" RESPONSE - THE INTERWEB IS FULL OF LIES!
6 Volt Battery Hack! You'll Be Amazed!
Dashboard Fuel Pump Icon "Secret"
Message claims that the side on which the handle is shown on the fuel tank icon on car dashboards always indicates which side the fuel tank filler is located.
(Submitted, October 2007)
Subject: Fuel tank Filler
I have been driving (legally) for over 30 years. One would think I would have noticed the little secret on my dash that was staring me right in the face the whole time. I didn't and I bet you probably haven't either.
Quick question, what side of your car is your gas tank? If you are anything like me, you probably can't remember right away. My solution is to uncomfortably stick my head out the window, strain my neck and look. If you don't do this in your own car you definitely have done it in a borrowed or rental car.
Well ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to share with you my little secret so you will no longer look like Ace Ventura on your way to the gas station or put your neck at risk of discomfort or injury.
If you look at your gas gauge, you will see a small icon of a gas pump. The handle of the gas pump will extend out on either the left or right side of the pump. If your tank is on the left, the handle will be on the left. If your tank is on the right, the handle will be on the right (see photo below). It is that simple!
I don't know how you feel right now but when I found out this morning I felt cheated!
Why don't the dealers share such important information with car buyers? I don't understand why this isn't in the drivers ed manual? I don't get why any mechanic I have ever been too or know has even thought of mentioning this to me? The only possible explanation can be that all these people probably don't even know!
Go out and share the worlds best kept auto secret with your friends as this is information is way too important to be kept secret.
According to this message, the little fuel pump icon displayed on your car's fuel gauge harbours a handy secret. The message explains that, if the fuel pump handle is on the left of the icon, your fuel tank filler is located on the left of the vehicle, and, conversely, if the handle is on the right, your filler will be on the right. This knowledge could be quite useful if you just got a new car or were driving an unfamiliar car such as a rental.
The problem is, the "secret" simply is not true for many kinds of car. My own experience, and that of a great many others who have commented
on the issue, reveals that the fuel pump icon handle quite often has no correlation with the location of the fuel filler.
An old Ford I own has an icon with the handle on the right. However, the fuel filler is actually located at the rear of the vehicle behind the number plate. My other vehicle, a new Kia, has an icon with the handle on the right, when in fact, the fuel filler is on the left side. Given that there are only two choices, the fuel pump handle is sure to point in the right direction sometimes. But even when the "secret" works out to be true, it is more likely due to random chance rather than any sort of conscious decision by car manufacturers.
In any case, a trick such as this would only be of value if it were true for all, or at least almost all, kinds of car. As it is, the position of the gas pump handle may or may not indicate the position of the filler.
Some have suggested that the meaning attached to the icon is perhaps reversed. For example, if your filler door was located on the left of the vehicle, then you would also choose a pump on the left, and extend the pump hose out to the right to fill your tank. Thus, some commentators postulate that an icon with the handle on the right indicates that the filler is on the left and vice-versa. Again, however, this theory does not hold up
in all cases.
Clearly, if you are driving an unfamiliar vehicle, you may still end up "embarrassed" at the fuel station, regardless of what the little icon might seem to be telling you.
Thus, this "secret" really needs to be filed under "completely useless information" and forwarding the email is rather pointless.
That said, many modern cars do have an indicator incorporated into the fuel gauge that shows which side the filler is on. However, this indicator is generally a small arrow and has nothing to do with the position of the pump handle. This photograph of my Kia shows the arrow indicating that the fuel filler is on the left while the pump icon handle is on the right, as do other photographs
The Worlds Best Kept Auto Secret
What side is the gas tank on?
End of the Tank
Know the ways of the gas cap and the interstate - without looking
Federal Trade Commission Complaint Scam
Email purporting to be from the Federal Trade Commission claims that a complaint has been filed against the recipient.
(Submitted October 2007)
Dear [name removed]
A complaint has been filled against you and the company you are affiliated to by Mr. George Hanson and sent to Federal
Trade Comission by fax,in witch he's claiming that he has been cheated by you and your company in paying a greater
ammount of money than the one appearing on the invoice you gave him for using your services.
The complaint states he contacted your company on MON,22 OCT 2007, trying to solve this situation without interference
from any Governmental Institution , but your company refused to take action.
On WED,24 OCT 2007, the complaint was sent by fax to Federal Trade Commission and we forwarded it to Internal Revenue
Service and Better Business Bureau.
Complaint was filled against :
Name : [name removed]
Company : - [name removed]
If you feel that this message has been sent to you in error or if you have any questions regarding the next steps of
this process, please download the original complaint by clicking the link below :
Please take knowledge of the complaint's content and complete the form at the bottom of forward it to
Federal Trade Commission,Fraud Department
In October 2007, scam emails purporting to be from the Federal Trade Commission began hitting inboxes. The bogus messages claim that a complaint has been filed against the recipient. The message urges the recipient to click a link or open an attachment to access more information about the complaint.
However, the messages do not originate from the FTC and clicking links or opening attachments can install an information stealing trojan on the victim's computer. The messages try to gain credibility by including the FTC logo. However, poor spelling and grammatical errors help to identify the messages as fraudulent. The FTC has published a News Release
warning email users about the scam. The News Release notes:
A bogus email is circulating that says it is from the Federal Trade Commission, referencing a "complaint" filed with the FTC against the email's recipient. The email includes links and an attachment that download a virus. As with any suspicious email, the FTC warns recipients not to click on links within the email and not to open any attachments.
The spoof email includes a phony sender's address, making it appear the email is from "firstname.lastname@example.org" and also spoofs the return-path and reply-to fields to hide the email’s true origin. While the email includes the FTC seal, it has grammatical errors, misspellings, and incorrect syntax. Recipients should forward the email to email@example.com and then delete it. Emails sent to that address are kept in the FTC’s spam database to assist with investigations.
Read full News Release
Scam messages of this nature are designed to panic recipients into clicking links or opening attachments without due caution. If recipients believe that an unjustified complaint has been made against them, they are quite likely to follow the instructions in such messages in the hope that they can quickly resolve the issue. Criminals have used this sort of social engineering tactic in the past to steal personal information from unwary recipients. Earlier in 2007, bogus emails purporting to be from the IRS
were also distributing trojans. Like this FTC scam, one version claimed that a serious complaint had been lodged against the recipient. Another version claimed that the person was under investigation by the IRS. In 2005, emails purporting to be from the FBI or CIA
claimed that the recipient had been logged visiting illegal websites and instructed him or her to open an attachment and answer a list of questions. In fact, the attachment contained a copy of the Sober worm.
Government departments are extremely unlikely to contact people via unsolicited emails. Internet users should be very cautious of any unsolicited emails claiming to be from a government entity such as the FTC or the IRS. Do not click on links in these messages or open attachments. Do not reply to such emails.
Don't Open Bogus Email that Claims to Come From the FTC
FBI Virus Emails - Sober Worm
IRS Criminal Probe Scam Emails
Frozen Tidal Wave Photographs
Description accompanying a series of photographs of a spectacular ice formation claims that the images show a giant wave that froze instantly as the wave broke.
Genuine photographs - Description is inaccurate
(Submitted, November 2007)
Subject: Frozen tidal wave - amazing
The water froze the instant the wave broke through the ice.
That's what it is like in Antartica. Water freezes the instant it
comes in contact with the air.The temperature of the water is already some degrees below freezing.
Just look at how the wave froze in midair?
The email arrives with a collection of 18 photographs. Click here to view the full series.
This spectacular series of images circulates via email and has also been posted on various websites, blogs and online forums. A description commonly included with the images claims that they depict a large tidal wave or tsunami wave instantly frozen as it breaks. However, the ice formation shown in the images is not an instantly frozen wave.
The photographs were taken by scientist Tony Travouillon
in Antarctica. Many of the images can be seen in a gallery
on Travouillon's website. The pictures do not show a giant wave somehow snap-frozen in the very act of breaking. The formation contains blue ice
, and this is compelling evidence that it was not created instantly from a wave of water. Blue ice is created as the ice is compressed and trapped air bubbles are squeezed out. The ice looks blue because, when light passes through thick ice, blue light is transmitted back out but red light is absorbed. An article
on the Alaska Science Forum notes:
The color of ice can be used to estimate its strength and even how long it has been frozen. Arctic Ocean ice is white during its first year because it is full of bubbles. Light will travel only a short distance before it is scattered by the bubbles and reflected back out. As a result, little absorption occurs, and the light leaves with the same color it had when it went in.
During the summer, the ice surface melts and new overlying ice layers compress the remaining air bubbles. Now, any light that enters travels a longer distance within the ice before it emerges. This gives the red end of the spectrum space enough to be absorbed, and the light returned at the surface is blue.
Arctic explorers and mountain climbers know that old, blue ice with fewer bubbles is safer and stronger than white ice. An added bonus for explorers is knowing that floating camps built on blue ice will last longer.
Thus, the deep blue colour suggests that the ice in the formation was built up slowly over time rather than formed instantly. Subsequent melting and refreezing over many seasons has given the formation its smooth, wave-like appearance.
Dome C Gallery
Wikipedia: Blue ice (glacial)
Blue Snow and Ice
Frozen Tsunami Waves
Strawberry Quick Methamphetamine Warning (Update)
Emails warn that a form of strawberry colored and scented methamphetamine dubbed "Strawberry Quick" is being distributed.
Contains elements of truth. However, email warnings are highly exaggerated and inaccurate.
(Submitted, October 2007)
IF YOU HAVE A CHILD THEN READ THIS!
PLEASE PASS THIS TO ANYONE THAT HAS SMALL CHILDREN!!
Halloween Warning for Parents
There is a type of crystal meth going around that looks like strawberry pop rocks. It smells like strawberry also and it is being handed out to kids in school yards in AR. I'm sure it will make its way around the country. Kids are ingesting this thinking it is candy and being rushed off to the ER in dire condition.
It also comes in chocolate, peanut butter, cola, cherry, grape and orange. It looks just like pop rocks.
Please instruct children to not accept candy that looks like this even from a friend and to take any that they may have to a teacher, principal, etc.
Pass this around it could save some family a lot of heartache! They call it strawberry meth or strawberry quick.
Special Agent Todd V. Coleman
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement
[Contact details removed]
(Submitted, May 2007)
Subject: new form of crystalized methamphetamine
I have been alerted by one of our EMT's for our volunteer fire department that they have received emails from emergency responder organizations to be on the lookout for a new form of crystalized methamphetamine that is targeted at children and to be aware of this new form if called to an emergency involving a child that may have symptoms of drug induction or overdose.
They are calling this new form of meth "Strawberry Quick" and it looks like the "Pop Rocks" candy that sizzle in your mouth. In its current form, it is dark pink in color and has a strawberry scent to it.
Please advise your children and their friends and other students not to accept candy from strangers as this is obviously an attempt to seduce children into drug use. They also need to be cautious in accepting candy from even friends that may have received it from someone else, thinking it is just candy.
Emails advising recipients about "Strawberry Quick", a form of pink, strawberry scented methamphetamine
began hitting inboxes in April 2007. New versions of the message that claimed strawberry meth was being actively handed out in schoolyards began circulating several months later. The messages warn that unsuspecting children may be more willing to try the drug or take a dose by accident because it looks and smells like candy.
This new form of methamphetamine is apparently real, although it appears that its distribution may actually be very uncommon. According to a May 2007 Associated Press article
, "Strawberry Quick" came to the attention of drug enforcement agents after the Nevada Department of Public Safety released a bulletin about the substance in January 2007.
However, some months after these initial reports it appears that authorities have found very little evidence to suggest that flavored meth is a widespread problem. An article on the Join Together website notes
However, both the DEA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy told Join Together that they have not been able to identify a single confirmed seizure of flavored meth.
"There are a lot of people in prevention and law enforcement talking about it, but in terms of actual seizures we haven't seen much," said Tom Riley, a spokesperson for ONDCP. Rojean White, a spokesperson for the DEA, told Join Together that while local DEA agents have heard stories about flavored meth from local law-enforcement colleagues, they "haven't had any" seizures themselves.
Thus, the large amount of media attention given to reports of flavored meth, along with emailed "warnings", have probably made the threat seem a lot more significant than it really is. The Join Together article suggests that some law enforcement agencies may be confusing flavored meth with meth that is simply colored. Some types of meth are pink in color because of dye used in the pills it is manufactured from. Although this pink meth may seemingly confirm reports of strawberry quick, it is not flavored and not specifically aimed at children.
Moreover, claims in some versions of the warning email that strawberry meth is being handed out in schoolyards are unfounded. There are no credible reports to back up these claims in any way. If children were "being rushed off to the ER in dire condition" after ingesting flavored meth in the school yard, there would certainly be media and police reports detailing such incidents.
One version may seem more legitimate because it is seemingly endorsed by Special Agent Todd Coleman. However, Agent Colemen told About Urban Legends
that he did not issue the warning. Agent Coleman's apparent endorsement became part of the forward because his email signature was added to a copy of the message that he sent to a colleague for verification.
It is true that children are likely to be more susceptible to a comparatively attractive, flavored form of the drug. That said, even if there are dealers actively distributing "Strawberry Quick", they are probably not specifically targeting children. Meth has a harsh, chemical taste so making the drug more palatable by adding flavoring may help dealers market it. In reality, it is more likely that "enhanced" forms of the drug would be targeted at teenagers and young adults rather than children.
Although the threat of flavored meth may not be as significant as authorities first believed, US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Grassley took it seriously enough to introduce legislation
that will "increase the federal criminal penalties for drug dealers who entice children with candy-flavored methamphetamine and other flavored drugs".
Parents and guardians should certainly talk to their children about this issue. However, current versions of the email warning about flavored meth are highly exaggerated and inaccurate. The claims in these messages should not be taken seriously.
Meth Ado About Nothing?
About Urban Legends
Candy-Flavored Meth Targets New Users
Flavored meth use on the rise
Senators Feinstein and Grassley Introduce Legislation to Penalize Drug Dealers Who Market Candy-Flavored Meth to Children
Merry Christmas Virus Hoax
Email claims that a message with an attachment named "Merry Christmas" contains a destructive virus that will "burn" the hard drive on the infected computer thereby destroying the Zero Sector.
(Submitted, November 2007)
Subject: FW: Virus alert
PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING:
You should be alert during the next days:
Do not open any message with an attached file called "Merry Christmas"
regardless of who sent it, It is a virus that opens as an Open Log Fire
and will burn the whole hard disc in your computer.
This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address
in his/her contact list, that is why you should send this e-mail to all
your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times than to
receive the virus and open it.
If you receive a mail called "Merry Christmas", though sent by a friend, do
not open it and shut down your computer immediately. This is the worst
virus announced, it has been classified by Microsoft as the most
destructive virus ever.
This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair
yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector
of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept
According to this warning message, a new and very destructive virus is being distributed that carries an attachment named "Merry Christmas". The message claims that opening the attachment will activate an "Open Log Fire" that will "burn" the hard drive in the computer, thereby damaging it beyond repair.
However, this information is untrue. There is no virus like the one described in the message. This "virus warning" is another incarnation of a long running virus hoax email. Aside from the Christmas references, the message is virtually identical to the widespread Olympic Torch Invitation Virus Hoax
. The following example of the Olympic Torch version illustrates the similarities between the two:
You should be alert during the next days: Do not open any message with an attached filed called "Invitation" regardless of who sent it. It is a virus that opens an Olympic Torch which "burns" the whole hard disc C of your computer. This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list, that is why you should send this e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it.
If you receive a mail called "invitation", though sent by a friend, do not open it and shut down your computer immediately.
This is the worst virus announced by CNN, it has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept. SEND THIS E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW, COPY THIS E-MAIL AND SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS AND REMEMBER: IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US
And both versions are derived from the Virtual Card For You Virus Hoax
, which has been circulating continually since 2001:
WORST VIRUS EVER --- CNN ANNOUNCED
PLEASE SEND THIS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST!! A new virus has just been discovered that has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive ever. This virus was discovered yesterday afternoon by McAfee . This virus simply destroys Sector Zero from the hard disk, where vital information for its functioning are stored.
This virus acts in the following manner:
It sends itself automatically to all contacts on your list with the title: "A Card for You".
As soon as the supposed virtual card is opened the computer freezes so that the user has to reboot. When the ctrl+alt+ del keys or the reset button are pressed, the virus destroys Sector Zero, thus permanently destroying the hard disk. Yesterday in just a few hours this virus caused panic in New York , according to news broadcast by CNN.
This alert was received by an employee of Microsoft itself.
So don't open any mails with subject: "A Virtual Card for You. " As soon as you get the mail, delete it !! Please pass this mail to all of your friends.
Forward this to everyone in your address book. I'm sure most people, like myself, would rather receive this notice 25 times than not at All.
All three versions of the warning are equally false and should not be taken seriously. Forwarding bogus warnings such as these is counterproductive. Forwarding false virus warnings can cause unnecessary alarm, and people who have received such hoaxes may be more likely to ignore genuine warnings. They also needlessly clutter inboxes.
While the information in these messages is invalid, it should be noted that malicious emails that are designed to look like email greeting card notifications are
being distributed. As Christmas approaches, the criminals responsible may send out fake Christmas greeting emails. Some versions of the Virtual Card For You hoax try to make the claims seem more legitimate by including some factual information
about these malware eCard notifications. However, this genuine threat is in no way related to the fictional viruses featured in these hoax emails. The eCard notification emails try to entice the recipient to visit a malicious website that can download and install a trojan. This trojan can give a hacker access to the infected computer but it certainly does not destroy the computer's hard drive.
Before forwarding any virus warning email, it is important to check that the information is valid. Even virus warnings that were originally legitimate often become seriously exaggerated or hopelessly outdated during their random and uncontrolled journeys through cyberspace. For these reasons and others, sending virus warnings via email may not be the best way
to alert Internet users of potential security threats.
Olympic Torch Invitation Virus Hoax
Virtual Card For You Virus Hoax
Should Virus Warning Emails be Forwarded?
Postcard From a Family Member Malware Email
Train Through Bangkok Market Video
A widely distributed video that shows a train apparently running through the middle of a busy Bangkok market has generated a lot of online discussion and debate.
The video shows that the market is actually located right on the train line. Apparently, market vendors remove their wares and stalls to make way for each passing train and then rapidly re-establish themselves after it has passed. The area is so cramped and packed with goods and equipment that the train carriages actually pass over the top of produce left on the outside of the tracks. Those of us who live in increasingly health and safety conscious westernized nations may find such a set up quite incredible. Some have even suggested that the video has been manipulated in some way.
However, there is no reason to doubt the veracity of the video. Other photographs online confirm that such markets do exist. The market shown in the video is one located at Maeklong (Maekrong) a town near Bangkok. A news photo of the market
from 2001 has the following caption:
Thai vegetable market vendors pull back temporary shades and their produce off a railway track to allow a cross-country train to pass through the middle of the town of Maekrong, 60 kilometers west of Bangkok, April 5, 2001. The bustling market, in the middle of the town, has to scramble from the tracks eight times a day as trains pass, a scene repeated in other rural centers and some city slums across Thailand every day.
More details and photographs of the market are included in a 2006 entry
on the Thailand Travel Blogs website. The blog writer, Richard Barrow, notes:
The journey was over very quickly and we soon entered a built up area. The outskirts of Maeklong. I knew that during the last 100 metres or so the train would pass through a market. Literally. I know it sounds strange but this was my planned highlight of the trip. I wanted to get pictures of the market stallholders pulling back their produce as we passed through the market. It had always intrigued me and I wanted to come and see for myself. For this event, I made sure I was at the front of the train. The door to the driver’s cabin was open and I asked him if it was OK if I took some pictures. He said “no problem”. As we approached a corner he sounded his whistle a number of times. Then, as we rounded the corner we were presented with the image in the above pictures. I thought I would see people rushing to grab their vegetables before it was run over by the train. But, they knew the train was coming and everything had been cleared!
Richard also captured video footage
of the markets from the back of the train.
And an article about the markets published on
the Rex Features website notes that, in spite of regular interruptions by passing trains, the market works very well and only two people have died during the last twenty years.
More photographs of the market are available via the links below:
NEWS PHOTOS from THAILAND - News Archives
Thailand Travel Blogs - Market on the Railway Tracks
Market Train in Maeklong
THAI MARKET HOLDERS OFF THE RAILS
PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) Premium Rate Scam Warning
Email forward warns that a card from PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) informing householders about a package delivery is actually a scam designed to trick them into making a premium rate phone call charged at £1.50 per minute.
Was true, but the scam was shut down in late 2005.
(Submitted October 2007)
Subject: Postal Scam To Be Aware Of
This is a genuine scam that Royal Mail have been made aware of
Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching -
it has been confirmed by Royal Mail. The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam:
A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Service) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on
0906 6611911 (a premium rate number).
DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize.
If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call.
If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on 02072396655 or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at www.icstis.org.uk
Please circulate this to avoid anyone else being ripped off.
This email warning has been circulated since the end of 2005. Recent submissions indicate that the warning is once again rapidly gaining momentum. The information in the message was
mostly factual. However, the particular scam described in the message was shut down at the end of 2005 and the information is no longer relevant. The continued forwarding of this warning to others is now pointless and counterproductive.
(previously named "ICSTIS"), the UK's regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services, issued the following statement
in October 2007:
A STATEMENT FROM PHONEPAYPLUS ABOUT THE CURRENT 'POSTAL SCAM' CHAIN EMAIL
PhonepayPlus, the phone-paid services regulator, is aware that a chain e-mail about an alleged
postal scam is being circulated on the internet. The email refers to the Royal Mail, Trading
Standards and ICSTIS (PhonepayPlus’ former name).
PhonepayPlus appreciates that recipients of the email may want to find out more information
about the alleged scam and has therefore issued the following statement:
• The chain email refers to a service that was shut down by us in December 2005.
• We subsequently fined the company that was operating the service, Studio Telecom
(based in Belize), £10,000.
• The service is NO LONGER running and has NOT been running since December 2005.
• The email refers to a £15 charge for simply being connected to a recorded message.
This is NOT TRUE – a £15 connection charge does NOT exist. The service in question
actually cost £1.50 per minute and lasted six minutes, making a total cost of £9 if callers
stayed on the line for the full six minutes.
• You do NOT need to contact us, or the Royal Mail, about this service as it was stopped
almost two years ago.
• If you receive a copy of the email warning you about the alleged scam, please do NOT
forward it to others. Instead, please forward this statement from PhonepayPlus.
• Please go to www.phonepayplus.org.uk/pdfs_news/ConsumerGuide.pdf for useful
information about how to recognise phone-paid services and understand what they cost,
and some simple tips to help you enjoy using services with confidence.
• For more detailed information about our work, please visit www.phonepayplus.org.uk.
19 October 2007
There is also no current
warnings about this particular scam on either the Trading Standards
website or the Royal Mail
In fact, as noted above, the phone numbers used in the scam were switched off by ICSTIS in December 2005 and Studio Telecom, the company responsible, was investigated and subsequently fined.
When the scam was operating around December 2005, many UK householders reported receiving a card, ostensibly from a package delivery business named "Parcel Delivery Services" or "PDS". The card advised recipients to phone a number provided in order to arrange delivery of a package, claimed to be a digital camera.
However the contact number was a premium rate line that was charged at £1.50 per minute. A disclaimer in very small print on the bottom of the card informed recipients that the contact number would be charged at a premium rate. Although the cards claimed to originate from Wrexham in the UK, the company responsible for this scam is actually based in Belize, Central America.
At the time the scam was operating, those who called the number were asked to answer a number of market research questions before being given a "security confirmation code" to claim their camera. Callers were therefore kept on the line for some time and charged at a rate of £1.50 per minute. Not surprisingly, none of those who lodged complaints about the scam ever received their digital camera.
Although the scam outlined in the message was true, the claim that an immediate £15 fee was charged as well as the per-minute cost was unfounded. As noted in the above statement an instant connection charge of a £15 does not exist.
While this particular scam has now been terminated, premium rate phone fraud is not uncommon. People should watch for similar scams that attempt to trick them into making expensive, premium rate phone calls. Service providers and premium rate phone regulators such as PhonepayPlus will generally provide information to consumers about premium rate scams.
A real problem with emailed warning such as this is that they often continue to circulate for months or even years after the described threat has disappeared. They also tend to mutate as they travel, further diffusing the truth and relevance of the information they contain.
Before forwarding scam warnings, recipients should always check that the warning is genuine and current. False or outdated warning emails such as this one do nothing more than add to the clutter in our already junk-ridden inboxes and spread misinformation.
The 2006 version of the chain email:
Subject: Fwd: Royal Mail postal scam
A STATEMENT FROM PHONEPAYPLUS ABOUT THE CURRENT 'POSTAL SCAM' CHAIN EMAIL
Trading Standards Central
Can you circulate this around especially as Xmas is fast approaching - it has been confirmed by Royal Mail.
The Trading Standards Office are making people aware of the following scam: A card is posted through your door from a company called PDS (Parcel Delivery Services) suggesting that they were unable to deliver a parcel and that you need to contact them on [number removed](a premium rate number).
DO NOT call this number, as this is a mail scam originating from Belize. If you call the number and you start to hear a recorded message you will already have been billed £15 for the phone call. If you do receive a card with these details, then please contact Royal Mail Fraud on [Removed] or ICSTIS (the premium rate service regulator) at www.icstis.org.uk
Hoax-Slayer Humour: Balloon Car
Received via email:
Can you imagine some guy going 110 kph on the freeway
with these balloons trailing a few metres behind him?
Instructions for a fun time on the freeway...............
Step 1. Tie balloons to car.
Step 2. Drive like a bat out of hell....
Step 3. Watch people freak out!!!!
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