Issue 23 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 23: 14th April, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Overpayment Cheque Scam
People selling high-ticket items such as cars, motorcycles or
computer gear via the Internet should be aware of a cheque scam
that is bilking victims out of thousands of dollars. Although the
scam has been around for quite some time, recent trends indicate
that it is netting an increasing amount of victims, especially
among car owners looking to sell their vehicles.
Typically, an overpayment cheque scam works like this:
- A seller places an Internet advertisement for a car or other
item with a high price tag.
- Later, the seller receives a generous offer for the item,
usually via an email.
- The seller agrees on the price, and, often, also agrees to the
proviso that he or she refuses any other offers for the item.
- The scammers then send a cheque for the item. However, the
cheque is for substantially more than the specified amount.
- The scammers invent some excuse for this overpayment and ask
that the balance be electronically transferred to a specified bank
account. For example, they may claim that the extra funds are to
pay the fees of an agent who is handling the sale or to cover
- The seller dutifully transfers the amount out of his or her own
- Later, the seller finds that his or her bank has dishonoured the
cheque. In some cases, the bank may actually have cleared the
funds, but discovers later that the check is a forgery or was
- Thus the seller has been bilked out of a substantial amount,
with little chance of recovering the money. Furthermore, the
item remains unsold and the seller may have rejected legitimate
offers in the mean time.
The supposed buyers usually originate out of West African nations
such as Nigeria. In fact, it is probable that the same gang of
con-artists that run Nigerian loan scams and international lottery
scams are responsible for the overpayment cheque scam as well.
Like the Nigerian scam, the intent is to draw the potential
victim deeper into the scam via a series of emails.
To protect yourself against this sort of scam, never
agree to a
deal in which the payer wishes to issue an amount for more than
the agreed price and expects you to reimburse the balance. The
scammers use a variety of excuses to explain the overpayment, but
any such excuse should be treated with the utmost suspicion.
View some examples
of the scam emails.
Don't Flash your Lights? Gang Initiation Myth Hits London
Some London residents have become the latest to be caught out by
an aging urban legend that claims drivers are in danger from gang
members participating in a violent initiation ritual. The legend,
which spreads via word of mouth, fax and email, warns drivers that
if they see a car driving without headlights after dark, they
should not signal the car's driver in any way. According to the
hoax, a new gang member is driving the car operating without lights
as part of an initiation ceremony. Supposedly, those who signal
the driver will be followed and shot at by the "gang member" to
complete the "initiation".
Police have reassured the public that no such crimes have currently
been reported in London. The hoax began circulating via email and
fax back in 1993 and may have originated from even earlier stories
involving motorcycle gangs. It was also given new life by the 1998
film "Urban Legend" which featured the initiation ritual described.
While incidents resembling the one described in the hoax have
actually occurred, they are thought to be copycat crimes inspired
by the legend itself. Bogus warnings such as this one should be
deleted rather than forwarded. Indeed, such messages are far
harmless. They can waste the valuable time of police staff who have
to field endless enquires about such spurious claims. They can spread
unnecessary fear and alarm within a community. At worst, they may
encourage criminals to act out the myth in real life.
Over the years, there have been a number of versions of the hoax.
An example of the hoax:
One of the officers who works with the DARE programme has passed
long the following warning and asked that it be shared with all
This is an extremely serious matter. If you are driving after dark
and you see a car without its headlights on do not flash your
lights, do not blow your horn or make any signals to the driver
of the other car. This is a new common gang initiation game going
on the streets.
The new member being initiated drives along without his headlights
on until someone notices and flashes their headlights or makes
some other action to signal him. The gang member is now required
to chase the car and to shoot at or into the car in order to
complete his initiation requirements.
Please take this seriously. This is not a joke. Please pass this
on to everyone you know on email and in person. It could save
Drive-by shooting myth grips public
Virus Report: Weekly Virus Wrap-Up
The list below represents some of the most significant new virus
threats identified by Symantec Security Response
over the last
and its variants are a significant threat.
is another mass-mailing email worm that collects email addresses off the infected machine. The worm arrives as an email that contains a hyperlink. Clicking on the link can cause
the body of the worm to be downloaded. The worm exploits a vulnerability in Internet Explorer.
is another worm that exploits vulnerabilities in Windows based systems and can spread via open network shares. It can also spread via backdoors installed by other worms such as MyDoom. The worm can interfere with the running of anti-virus
and security programs. There are a number of variants of this
Amy Bruce Email Hoax
This absurd chain letter began circulating back in 1999 and is still being passed around. The information presented in the email is a total fabrication. There is no 7-year-old Amy Bruce who is dying of both lung cancer and a brain tumour. Furthermore, the Make A Wish Foundation is not donating money every time the email is forwarded. The Make A Wish Foundation would not support such an email campaign, even if it were true. In fact, the organization has a page on its website debunking the Amy Bruce hoax
and other similar hoaxes.
The concept of individual emails being "tracked" as they journey through cyberspace is a common theme among hoax emails. The only way to "track" an email would be to embed some sort of hidden code in the email and it would have to be continually forwarded in HTML format in order to contain the code. The logistics of tracking an email that could ultimately be forwarded thousands of times are clearly problematical at best.
In any case, tracking an email in the way described would raise all sorts of privacy issues and it is highly unlikely that any ethical organization would knowingly participate in such a practice.
Another hoax that uses a similar tactic is Debbie Shwartz Charity Hoax
, which also claims that money will be donated every time an email is forwarded. As well, the Jasmine Thomas Charity Hoax
claims the American Red Cross will donate money when the email is passed on.
Hoaxes like these do nothing more that cause trouble for our charitable organizations. Charities such as the Make A Wish Foundation have to devote valuable resources to answering queries about their supposed involvement. If you receive one of these hoaxes, please delete it without forwarding.
Hi, my name is Amy Bruce. I am 7 years old, and I have severe lung cancer
from second hand smoke. I also have a large tumor in my brain, from
repeated beatings. doctors say I will die soon if this isn't fixed, and my
family can't pay the bills. The Make A Wish Foundation, has agreed to
donate 7 cents for every time this message is sent on.
For those of you who send this along, I thank you so much, but for those
who don't send it, what goes around comes around. Have a Heart, please
send this. Please, if you are a kind person, send this on. PLEASE HIT
FORWARD BUTTON "NOT REPLY BUTTON".
Kidney Stealing Email Hoax
Some resourceful individual has been kind enough to give an
Australian flavour to this classic old hoax which is still
circulating. The hoax enjoyed a resurgance late last year and it
appears that it is once again going the rounds. The hoax has
been making its way around the in-boxs of the world since 1997.
Sydneysiders can relax, as there is in fact NO sinister gang of
medically trained criminals out and about stealing kidneys.
This tale has been around in one form or another for many years, but email and the Internet has given it new life and the perfect vehicle for propagation. And what a great little tale it is! A mini-horror story right there in your email in-box! It's not surprising that this email hoax has proved so resilient and enduring. It's the sort of tale that cries "share me!",....hence a piece of junk mail, that should ideally be cast into binary oblivion once and for all, keeps on keeping on.
The National Kidney foundation has an article
on its website about this hoax.
THIS IS TRUE STORY, RING THE BOTTOM NUMBER IF YOU DONT BELIEVE
IT!! Medical Centre phone number at the end of this story is
real. This guy went out on a Saturday night a few weeks ago to a
party. He was having a good time and had a couple of beers and
some girl seemed to like him and invited him to go to another
party. He quickly agreed and decided to go along with her. She took
him to a party in some apartment and they continued to drink, and
even got involved with some drug (unknown).
The next thing he knew, he woke up completely naked in a bathtub
filled with ice. He was still feeling the effects of the drugs,
but looked around to see he was alone. He looked down at his
chest, which had CALL 000 or YOU'LL DIE" written on it with
lipstick. He saw a phone was on a stand next to the tub so he
picked it up and dialled. He explained to the EMS operator what the
situation was and that he didn't know where he was, what he took,
or why he was really calling. She advised him to get out of the
tub. He did, and he appeared normal, so she told him to check his
back. He did, he found two 9 inch slits on his lower back. She
told him to get back into the tub immediately, and they sent a
rescue team over.
Apparently, after being examined, he found out more of what had
happened. His kidneys were stolen. They were worth $10,000 each
in the black market.Several guesses are in order: The second
party was a sham, the people involved had to be at least medical
students and it was not just recreational drugs he was given.
Regardless, he is currently in the hospital on a life support,
awaiting a spare kidney. The University of Sydney in conjunction
with the Royal Prince Alfred hospital is conducting tissue
research to match the victim with a donor.
I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting
business travellers. This ring is well organized and well funded,
has very skilled personnel and is currently operating in most major
cities around the world and recently very active in Sydney . The
crime begins when a business traveller goes to a lounge for a
drink at the end of the work day. A person in the bar walks up as
they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the
traveller remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bathtub,
their body submerged to their neck in ice, is sipping that drink.
There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move
and to call 000. A phone is on the small table next to the
bathtub for them to call. The business traveller calls 000 who
have been quite familiar with this crime. The business traveller
is instructed by the 000 operator to very slowly and carefully
reach behind them and feel there i s a tube protruding from the
back. The business traveller finds the tube and answers "YES".
The 000 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent
paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the
traveller's kidneys had been harvested.
This is not a scam or out of science fiction novel. It is real.
It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close
to you travels, please be careful. Sadly,this is very true. My
friend's husband is a Sydney EMT and they have received alerts
regarding this crime ring. It is to be taken very seriously. The
daughter of a friend of a fire-fighter had this happen to her.
Skilled doctors are performing these crimes! (which, by the way
have been highly noted in the Brisbane area). Additionally, the
military has received alerts regarding this. I REALLY WANT AS
MANY PEOPLE TO SEE THIS AS POSSIBLE SO PLEASE BOUNCE THIS TO
WHOEVER YOU CAN. (Person's Name) DML/Lab Administration Medical
Manager Research And Development [CONTACT DETAILS REMOVED]
PLEASE forward this to everyone you know
Tip of the Week: Disabling the Caps Lock and Insert Keys
I tend to get a bit heavy handed when I'm word processing and
often inadvertently press the Caps Lock key or the Insert key.
This can be irritating and waste time.
I've found a tiny freeware program called CapsUnlock that allows
you to disable both the Caps Lock key and the Insert key. The
program runs in the background and you can control it via an icon
that resides in the System Tray (near the clock). A right click
menu allows you to easily enable and disable the keys, or turn
the program off altogether.
The download site claims that the software is suitable for all
Windows Operating systems and I've found that it works fine on
both my Windows 98 and Windows XP machines.
You can get the program here:
Feedback from Readers and Site Visitors
Each week a growing number of site visitors have been good enough
to submit examples of hoax or scam emails they have received.
If you receive a hoax or scam email, I would appreciate it if you
would send me a copy
By far the most popular topic for submission this week was the
Swiffer Pet Death Hoax.
As usual, the Teddy Bear Virus Hoax
was also a popular subject.
The Hoax-Slayer website article about Camel Spiders in Iraq
is still receiving a large number of visitors.
Some submissions involved the latest version of the Xbox Giveaway
, while I received others regarding the Perfume Email Hoax
Thanks again for all your submissions! Also, if you have any
suggestions or comments regarding the newsletter, I would be most
pleased to receive them.
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©Brett M. Christensen, 2009
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