Issue 15 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 15: March 16, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
FTC warns of new Identity Theft Scam
Yet another phisher scam has been hitting inboxes. On March 11,
2004, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning to
Internet users describing the new scam. The scam email claims
that, due to changes in laws, recipients are required to identify
themselves to the government in order to "create a secure and
safer Internet community". A link in the email points to a bogus
website. The fake site is designed to resemble an official
regulation.gov site and attempts to trick site visitors into
providing sensitive personal information. The emails arrive with
the subject lines 'Official information' or 'Urgent information
to all credit card holders!'
Of course, there is no law that requires Internet users to
register at a Government website, nor does the regulations.gov
site collect financial information from visitors.
You can read the full article
about this scam on the FTC website.
Congressional Pensions Chain Letter
Below is yet another example of misguided "email activism". This
piece gets trundled out on a fairly regular basis, especially in
times when the behaviour of politicians is "in the news" because of
an up-coming election, for example.
Certainly politicians aren't shy about affording themselves generous
pension benefits. Here in Australia, there has been a lot of debate,
posturing, and vague promises recently regarding the disproportionaly
large size of superannuation payments enjoyed by ex-pollies. US
politicians can also end up with a very generous government pension.
However, there are significant inaccuracies in this protest email.
Members of Congress do
contribute and receive Social Security
benefits. They do not
"draw the same pay until they die". In fact,
there are a variety of factors that impact on the size of their
pension payments. Also, according to an article
the figures quoted for Senator Byrd and Congressman
White "are simply outrageous amounts with no basis in reality".
As citizens of democracies we have the right to protest any unbridled
nest-feathering among those whose job it is to serve us. However,
sending a collection of half-truths and outright lies and asking for
it to be forwarded to promote "awareness" is likely to be counter
productive to say the least.
GET A BILL STARTED TO PLACE ALL POLITICIANS ON SOC. SEC.
2004 Election Issue!!
This must be an issue in "2004". Please! Keep it going.
(This is worth reading. It is short and to the point.)
Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years.
Our Senators and Congresswomen do not pay into Social Security and,
of course, they do not collect from it.
You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of
their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a
special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in
their own benefit plan.
In more recent years, no congress person has felt the need to
change it. After all, it is a great plan.
For all practical purposes their plan works like this:
When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die.
Except it may increase from time to time for cost of living
For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their
wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million,
Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing
$275,000.00 during the last years of their lives.
This is calculated on an average life span for each of those two
Younger Dignitaries who retire at an early age, will receive much
more during the rest of their lives.
Their cost for this excellent plan is $0.00. NADA....ZILCH....
This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and
I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement
plan come directly from the General Funds;
"OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK"!
From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid)
into, -every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our
employer)- we can expect to get an average of $1,000 per month after
Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000
monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to equal Senator Bill
Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made.
That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from
under the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security
plan with the rest of us ... then sit back and watch how fast they would
If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted
and maybe good changes will evolve.
How many people can YOU send this to?
Keep this going clear up thru the 2004
Guts to Say Jesus Virus Hoax
The "Guts to say Jesus" virus hoax has been around for a long time.
It is quite old by Internet standards, but is still actively
circulating. The information in the email is completely false and
should be ignored. There is no virus that has the characteristics
outlined in this bogus email.
This hoax first made its appearance way back in 1998, and has become
one of the most widely distributed of all email virus hoaxes. There
are several variations of this hoax, all equally false.
PASS THIS ON TO ANYONE YOU HAVE AN E-MAIL ADDRESS FOR.
If you receive an email titled: "It Takes Guts to Say Jesus"
DO NOT OPEN IT.
It will erase everything on your hard drive.!
This information was announced yesterday morning from IBM;
AOL states that this is a very dangerous virus, much worse than
"Melissa," and that there is NO Remedy for it at this time. Some
verysick individual has Succeeded in using the reformat function
from Norton Utilities causing it to completely erase all documents
on the hard drive. It has been designed to work with Netscape
Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. It destroys Macintosh
and IBM compatible computers.
This is a new, very malicious virus and not many people
know about it. Pass this warning along to EVERYONE in your address
book and please share it with all your online! friends ASAP so that
this threat maybe stopped. Please practice cautionary measures and
tell anyone that! may have access to your computer. Forward this
warning to everyone That you know that might access the Internet.
Virus Information: W32.Cone.D@mm
W32.Cone.D@mm is yet another mass-mailing worm that searches for
email addresses on the infected computer and sends itself using
its own SMTP engine.
The email carrying the worm has the following characteristics:
(This will be spoofed)
Subject Line: (One of the following)
RE: the attachment is in the SKY [weN]
How cute is your credit card number!! :))
E-mail account disabling warning for %s
the attachment is in the SKY [weN]
i have your password :)
RE: Thank You!
RE: details (%s)
Password Reset For %s
Undelivered Mail Returned to Sender (%s)
Your account (%s) will be closed
Your IP has been logged
Mail Delivery System (%s)
Mail Transaction Failed (%s)
Confidential user information
Body: One of the following
The attachment is a virus do not open it.
I write it to say : we don't want islamic republic in IRAN!
I'm realy sorry, I'm damaging some computers that I don't want to
Dear user of (recipient name),
We warn you about some attacks on your e-mail account. Your computer
may contain viruses, in order to keep your computer and e-mail
please, follow the instructions.
take it easy
I have your password :)
The zip archive attached.
extract it and then read the text file!
i zip your password (and some other info) :))
I have it too!
you can change it, but...!
This message contains (attached) users personal info and you may not
use it for personal use,
remember that you accept the agreement,
and you are responsible for any kind of misuse of the users personal
i zip it for you.
i can't find anything usefull in your attachment.
See the attached file for details
your credit card information attached :))
do you can imagine?
a (random letters) in a zip file!
The message contains Unicode (Chinese) characters and has been sent
as an attachment (in binary).
This will a .exe file preceded by eight random letters or numbers.
The worm may send a .zip file containing this executable.
Find out more
about the worm.
Security Software: Spyware Blaster
Anti-spyware programs like Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy
do an excellent job of ridding your computer of spyware components.
In fact, if your goal is to maintain a secure and stable computing
environment, a good quality anti-spyware scanner is practically a
Having said that, the majority of anti-spyware scanners provide a
for spyware rather than offer prevention
. Obviously, it
would be more desirable to prevent the installation of spyware in
the first place rather than get rid of it later. This is where an
excellent freeware application called SpywareBlaster comes into
SpywareBlaster sets a so-called "kill bit" that prevents spyware
Active X controls on a webpage from being installed at all. It can
also stop some Active X controls from running if they have already
been installed. The software achieves this by checking its database
of known spyware Active X controls. The program has a built in
updater, so that information about new spyware threats can be
easily added to the spyware database.
This software has quite a lot of useful options. You can configure
it to block spyware / tracking cookies, create an encrypted back up
of your browser hosts file and a lot more. It also offers the
ability to create a "System Snapshot" of your computer when it is in
a "clean", spyware free state. A spyware infection can make a lot
of changes to your computer settings but the "System Snapshot"
function allows you to reverse a lot of these changes quickly and
Although it protects your system from Active X threats in real time,
you do not have to have the program running all the time, which
saves system resources. However, it is important to open the
program and check for updates on a regular basis.
I am not suggesting that SpywareBlaster is a *replacement* for spyware
scanners like Ad-Aware, as this is not the case. SpywareBlaster
cannot do a full spyware scan of your system and rid your computer of
all existing spyware. I have Spybot Search and Destroy, Ad-Aware
and SpywareBlaster installed on my systems. Together they provide
very thorough protection against spyware.
It is only fair to mention that Spybot Search and Destroy has the
"Immunize" option, which provides protection against Active X
Controls in a similar way to SpywareBlaster. However, SpywareBlaster
is more comprehensive and configurable in this area.
SpywareBlaster is freeware, is compatible with Windows 95, 98, ME,
NT 4, 2000 and XP and is a relatively small download at a little over
You can read more about SpywareBlaster and download the product via
the link below:
Humour: Gullibility Virus Spreading over the Internet!
The original author of this satirical piece is unknown. However,
you can read an online version
complete with live links.
WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Institute for the Investigation of Irregular
Internet Phenomena announced today that many Internet users are
becoming infected by a new virus that causes them to believe
without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning
that shows up in their inbox or on their browser. The Gullibility
Virus, as it is called, apparently makes people believe and forward
copies of silly hoaxes relating to cookie recipes, email viruses,
taxes on modems, and get-rich-quick schemes.
"These are not just readers of tabloids or people who buy lottery
tickets based on fortune cookie numbers," a spokesman said. "Most
are otherwise normal people, who would laugh at the same stories if
told to them by a stranger on a street corner." However, once these
same people become infected with the Gullibility Virus, they believe
anything they read on the Internet.
"My immunity to tall tales and bizarre claims is all gone," reported
one weeping victim. "I believe every warning message and sick child
story my friends forward to me, even though most of the messages are
Another victim, now in remission, added, "When I first heard about
Good Times, I just accepted it without question. After all, there
were dozens of other recipients on the mail header, so I thought the
virus must be true." It was a long time, the victim said, before she
could stand up at a Hoaxes Anonymous meeting and state, "My name is
Jane, and I've been hoaxed." Now, however, she is spreading the word.
"Challenge and check whatever you read," she says.
Internet users are urged to examine themselves for symptoms of the
virus, which include the following:
* the willingness to believe improbable stories without thinking
* the urge to forward multiple copies of such stories to others
* a complete lack of desire to take three minutes to check to see if a
story is true
T. C. is an example of someone recently infected. He told one reporter,
"I read on the Net that the major ingredient in almost all shampoos
makes your hair fall out, so I've stopped using shampoo." When told
about the Gullibility Virus, T. C. said he would stop reading email,
so that he would not become infected.
Anyone with symptoms like these is urged to seek help immediately.
Experts recommend that at the first feelings of gullibility, Internet
users rush to their favorite search engine and look up the item tempting
them to thoughtless credence. Most hoaxes, legends, and tall tales have
been widely discussed and exposed by the Internet community.
Courses in critical thinking are also widely available, and there is
online help from many sources, including
U.S. Department of Energy Hoax Busters
Those people who are still symptom free can help inoculate themselves
against the Gullibility Virus by reading some good material on evaluating
sources, such as
- Evaluating Internet Research Sources by Robert Harris at SCCU.edu
- Evaluation of Information Sources part of the The WWW Virtual Library
Lastly, as a public service, Internet users can help stamp out the
Gullibility Virus by sending them a URL for this page or any of the
above list to anyone who forwards them a hoax.
This message is so important, send it to all your friends right away!
Don't think about it! This is not a chain letter! This story is true!
Don't check it out! This story is so timely, there is no date on it!
This story is so important, we're using lots of exclamation points!
For every message you forward to some unsuspecting person, the Home for
the Hopelessly Gullible will donate ten cents to itself. (If you wonder
how the Home will know you are forwarding these messages all over creation,
you're obviously thinking too much.)
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©Brett M. Christensen, 2009
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