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Issue 12 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 12: February 24th, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Rachel Arlington Hoax Email

Summary:
Email claims that AOL and Zdnet will donate money to help a child with brain cancer every time the email is forwarded.

Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, 2004)

Subject: To My Child (dont delete ~ its being tracked)

Be sure and read to the bottom portion.....

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying. Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is. Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play.

Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together. Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.

Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by. Just for this afternoon, I won't worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned. Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won't stand over you trying to fix them.

Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald's and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys. Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you. Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry. Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on he porch and count all the stars. Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.

Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given. I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children's graves instead of their bedrooms, and mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly, and screaming inside that they can't handle it anymore. And when I kiss you good night I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day.............

Hi.. I am a 29 year old father. Me and my wife have had a wonderful life together. God blessed us with a child too. Our daughter's name is Rachel, and she is 10 years old. Not long ago did the doctors detect brain cancer in her little body. There is only one way to save her and that isan operation. Sadly we don't have the money for the operation. AOL and Zdnet have agreed to help us. The only way they can help is this:

If you send this email to other people, AOL will track this email and count how many people get it.. Every person that opens this email and sends it to at least 3 people will give us 32c. Please help us.

George
Arlington.



Commentary:
The Rachel Arlington hoax is just one of several malicious prank emails that claim a child or family will be helped financially if an email is forwarded. Versions of the hoax have been circulating since at least the year 2000. As with all emails that try to convince recipients that an email is being tracked, the claims in the message are nonsense. Even if a large company like AOL did agree to help the alleged "Rachel Arlington" it is absurd to suggest that this help would depend on the pointless, haphazard and erratic forwarding of an email. If a given company agreed to help, it would simply donate money directly or perhaps cover medical or other expenses. It certainly would not participate in some ridiculous scheme in which the final amount to be donated hinged upon how many times a particular message was forwarded.

The concept of individual emails being "tracked" as they journey through cyberspace is a common theme among hoax emails. In reality, there is simply no reliable method of tracking the progress of an individual email message and therefore no accurate method of calculating the final amount to be donated. The logistics of tracking an email that could ultimately be forwarded thousands of times are clearly problematical at best.

Moreover, tracking an email in the way described would raise important privacy issues and it is vastly unlikely that any ethical company would knowingly participate in such an activity.

There have been several variations of the Rachel Arlington hoax. The version included above tacks on a poem written by Sally Meyer. The poem was added to the hoax message without the permission of the author. The poem, titled "Just for this day" is available in its original context on Sally Meyer's website along with many other examples of her poetry.

In another version of the hoax, "Rachel" has been transformed into a ten-month-old baby instead of a ten year old. This version arrives as an image file complete with a picture of a baby wrapped in a blue ribbon.

Rachel Baby Picture

Any message that claims that money will be donated just for forwarded an email is virtually assured to be a hoax. Forwarding such emails helps no one and serves only to waste bandwidth and clutter inboxes.

An older version:
Hi I am a 29 year old father. Me and my wife have had a wonderful life together. God blessed us with a child too. Our daughter's name is Rachel, and she is 10 years old. Not long ago did the doctors detect brain cancer in her little body. There is only one way to save her: An operation. Sadly, we don't have enough money to pay the price. AOL and Zdnet have agreed to help us. The only way they can help us is this way: I send this email to you and you send it to other people. AOL will track this email and count how many people get it. EVERY PERSON THAT OPENS THIS EMAIL AND SENDS IT TO AT LEAST 3 PEOPLE will give us 32 cents. PLEASE HELP US.

George Arlington.




References:
Poems by Sally Meyer (Scroll to view "Just for this day")
Charity Hoaxes


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National Do Not E-Mail Registry Scam

The US Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning to consumers concerning a website that claims to be a "National Do Not E-Mail Registry".

The site claims that Internet users can reduce the amount of spam they receive by signing up for the National Do Not E-Mail service. The site is designed to resemble the legitimate National Do Not Call Registry which is a free service offered by the US Federal Government. However, the site is not run or endorsed in any way by the FTC. There Is No "National Do Not E-mail Registry"

The FTC is concerned that the site is simply a scam to trick people into revealing their email addresses. In short, signing up for this site's dubious "service" may well result in you receiving more spam, not less.

Even if the service was legitimate, it is highly unlikely that such a service would have a significant impact on the amount of spam you receive. A great deal of spam originates outside of the US, so even a government run facility would do little to curb the flow.

You can access the full FTC article via the link below:
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/02/spamcam.htm

Information about the site may arrive in the form of the following unsolicited or forwarded email:

National Do Not Email Registry

I know you are all tired of getting junk mail. The following link is a National Do Not Email Registry, if you elect to submit your email address they will remove you from junk mail. You can also file a complaint with them if junk emails persist:

http://unsub.us



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HIV Needle Hoax

It appears that the old email hoax about needles on petrol pump handles is enjoying a resurgence.

This is by no means a new hoax, but one that regularly resurfaces. The first example below is an Australian version and involves HIV needles on theater seats.

Around October 2003, another version of the hoax was finding its way into Canadian inboxes. This version claims that hypodermic needles have been attached to gas pump handles and that people have tested HIV positive as a result of being pricked by the needles. The Canadian version is very similar to the original US version (reproduced below), which began hitting inboxes in 2000.

An even earlier version of the hoax claimed that drug users were disposing of needles in the coin slots of payphones, thereby infecting innocent phone users.

Occasionally, syringes *are* found in places where they could cause injury to unsuspecting members of the public, including a case where an insulin needle was left in a pay phone coin return. However, there is no evidence that the callous and deliberate terror campaign outlined in these hoax emails has ever occurred.

The Center for Disease Control has information about these hoaxes on its website.

Australian Version:

Subject: Read This - Red Cross Blood Service - could save a life From: Red Cross Blood Service

A few weeks ago in a movie theatre in Melbourne a person sat on something that was poking out of one of the seats. When she got up to see what it was she found a needle sticking out of the seat with a note attached saying "You have just been infected by HIV".

The Disease Control Centre in Melbourne reports many similar incidents have occurred in many other Australian cities recently. All tested needles are HIV Positive.

The Centre also reports that needles have been found in the cash dispensers in ATMs. We ask everyone to use extreme caution when faced with this kind of situation. All public chairs / seats should be inspected with vigilance and caution before use.

Seventeen people have tested positive in the Western suburbs alone in the last 2 months!!! A careful visual inspection should be enough. In addition they ask that each of you pass this message along to all members of your family and your friends of the potential danger. We all have to be careful at public places! This is very important.

Just think about saving a life of someone even you don't know by forwarding this message. Please, take a few seconds of your time to pass it along.

Australian Red Cross Blood Service

Ph: [REMOVED] Fax: [REMOVED] e-mail: [REMOVED]



Original US Version:

My name is Captain Abraham Sands of the Jacksonville, Florida Police Department. I have been asked by state and local authorities to write this email in order to get the word out to car drivers of a very dangerous prank that is occurring in numerous states.

Some person or persons have been affixing hypodermic needles to the underside of gas pump handles. These needles appear to be infected with HIV positive blood. In the Jacksonville area alone there have been 17 cases of people being stuck by these needles over the past five months. We have verified reports of at least 12 others in various states around the country.

It is believed that these may be copycat incidents due to someone reading about the crimes or seeing them reported on the television. At this point no one has been arrested and catching the perpetrator(s) has become our top priority.

Shockingly, of the 17 people who where stuck, eight have tested HIV positive and because of the nature of the disease, the others could test positive in a couple years.

Evidently the consumers go to fill their car with gas, and when picking up the pump handle get stuck with the infected needle. IT IS IMPERATIVE TO CAREFULLY CHECK THE HANDLE of the gas pump each time you use one. LOOK AT EVERY SURFACE YOUR HAND MAY TOUCH, INCLUDING UNDER THE HANDLE.

If you do find a needle affixed to one, immediately contact your local police department so they can collect the evidence.

PLEASE HELP US BY MAINTAINING A VIGILANCE AND BY FORWARDING THIS EMAIL TO ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO DRIVES. THE MORE PEOPLE WHO KNOW OF THIS THE BETTER PROTECTED WE CAN ALL BE.



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Significant New Virus: W32.Netsky.B

W32.Netsky.B is a mass mailing worm that searches the hard drives and mapped drives of the infected computer for email addresses and sends itself to them using its own SMPT engine. It copies itself to folders where the name of the folder includes the word "Share" or "Sharing".

Symantec has given this worm a category of 4, which is "Severe".

The email characteristics of the worm vary.

More information is available via the link below:
http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.netsky.b@mm.html

There is a removal tool available for w32.netsky.b@mm here:
http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data.html

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Home User's Security Checklist Article

Scott Granneman who writes for the Security Focus website has prepared an excellent checklist to help people ensure that their computers are secure. Even if you don't need this information yourself, Scott's article is a good resource to pass on to computer newbie friends.

From the site:
A Home User's Security Checklist for Windows
Most people don't secure their computers or act in a secure manner, and the main reason is that the average user just doesn't know what to do. Here is a checklist on security for home computer users that you can share with your friends, family, churches and clubs.


You can access the article via the following link:
http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/220

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Humour: New Viruses

Oprah Winfrey virus: Your 200MB hard drive suddenly shrinks to 80MB and then slowly expands back to 200MB.

AT and T virus: Every three minutes it tells you what great service you are getting.

MCI virus: Every three minutes it reminds you that you're paying too much for the AT and T virus.

Paul Revere virus: This revolutionary virus does not horse around. It warns you of impending hard disk attack -- once if by LAN, twice if by c:>

Politically Correct virus: Never calls itself a "virus", but instead refers to itself as an "electronic microorganism."

Arnold Schwarzenegger virus: Terminates and stays resident. It'll be back.

Government Economist virus: Nothing works, but all your diagnostic software says everything is fine.

New World Order virus: Probably harmless, but it makes a lot of people really mad just thinking about it.

Federal Bureaucrat virus: Divides your hard disk into hundreds of little units, each of which does practically nothing, but all of which claim to be the most important part of your computer.

Gallup virus: Sixty percent of the PCs infected will lose 38 percent of their data 14 percent of the time (plus or minus a 3.5 percent margin of error).

Texas virus: Makes sure that it's bigger than any other file.

Adam and Eve virus: Takes a couple of bytes out of your Apple.

Congressional virus: The computer locks up, screen splits erratically with a message appearing on each half blaming the other side for the problem.

Airline virus: You're in Dallas but your data is in Singapore.

Freudian virus: Your computer becomes obsessed with marrying its own motherboard.

Public Television virus: Your programs stop every few minutes to ask for money.

Nike virus: Just does it.

Jimmy Hoffa virus: Your programs can never be found again.

Congressional virus #2: Runs every program on the hard drive simultaneously, but doesn't allow the user to accomplish anything.

Imelda Marcos virus: Sings you a song (slightly off key) on boot up, then subtracts money from your Quicken account and spends it all on expensive shoes it purchases through Prodigy.

Star Trek virus: Invades your system in places where no virus has gone before.

Health Care virus: Tests your system for a day, finds nothing wrong, and sends you a bill for $4,500.

George Bush virus: It starts by boldly stating "Read my docs...No new files!" on the screen. It proceeds to fill up all the free space on your hard drive with new files, then blames it on the Congressional virus.

L.A.P.D. virus: It claims it feels threatened by the other files on your PC and erases them in "self-defense."

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The Hoax_Slayer Newsletter is published by:
Brett M.Christensen
Queensland, Australia
All Rights Reserved
©Brett M. Christensen, 2009
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