Issue 28 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 28: 22nd June, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
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Glade Plug-in Fire Hazard Email
A common visitor to inboxes at the moment is an email that claims
houses have been burnt down by Glade Plug-in air fresheners.
Like many similar in-box "warnings" there are a no verifiable
facts in the email. Neither the names of the fire victims, nor
the name of the city where the alleged fire took place are
mentioned in the email. In other words, there is no way of
checking that the fire ever happened.
If plug-in related fires were as common as claimed by the
"investigator", there would most likely be official warnings
about these products, verifiable proof of their danger, and
considerable interest from the mainstream media.
Having said that, it should be noted that there have been a quite
a number of cases, and a class action law suit, in which
consumers have blamed plug-ins for house fires. However, most,
if not all, of the claims appear to be unsubstantiated.
According to a Glade company spokesperson, quoted in a Business
Journal of Milwaukee article
, "no plug-in air fresheners
manufactured by the company have been positively determined to
In 2002, there was a recall
of one type of Glade Plug-in due
to a potential fire risk. There was concern that the plug-ins
had been miss-assembled. However, as far as I know there were
no fires attributed to these recalled plug-ins. The recall was
a voluntary precautionary measure on the part of the
So is this a case of smoke without fire? Without more
information, there is no way of verifying if the claims in
the email are truth or fiction. Any electrical appliance is
a potential fire risk if it is missused, poorly maintained
or faulty. Perhaps plug-in do
add to the overall risk of
an electrical fire. Consumers certainly need to consider any
potential fire risk before deciding to use the product.
But I would question the wisdom of basing this decision
on completely unsubstantiated information contained in an
Subject: Safety warning
Discuss This Story
i was sent this from a forward this isnt anybody i know
however,, its good to know stuff like this
My brother and his wife learned a hard lesson this last
week. Their house burned down...nothing left but ashes. They
have good insurance, so the home will be replaced and most
of the contents. That is the good news. However, they were
sick when they found out the cause of the fire.
The insurance investigator sifted through the ashes for
several hours. He had the cause of the fire traced to the
master bathroom. He asked my sister-in-law what she had
plugged in in the bathroom. She listed the normal things.
...curling iron,blow dryer. He kept saying to her, "No,
this would be something that would disintegrate
at high temperatures." Then, my sister-in-law remembered
she had a Glade Plug-in in the bathroom. The investigator
had one of those "Aha" moments. He said that was
the cause of the fire. He said he has seen more home fires
started with the plug in type room fresheners than anything
else. He said the plastic they are made from
is a THIN plastic. He said in every case there was nothing
left to prove that it even existed. When the investigator
looked in the wall plug, the two prongs left from the
plug-in were still in there.
My sister-in-law had one of the plug-ins that had a small
night light built in it.
She said she had noticed that the light would dim....and
then finally go out. She would walk in a few hours later,
and the light would be back on again. The
Investigator said that the unit was getting too hot, and
would dim and go out rather than just blow the light bulb.
Once it cooled down, it would come back on. That is a
The investigator said he personally wouldn't have any
type of plug in fragrance device anywhere in his house.
He has seen too many burned down homes.
Thought I would warn you all. I had several of them
plugged in my house. I immediately took them all
PayPal Phisher Scams
Online payment service, PayPal has been a regular target for
Phisher scammers over the last year or so. One of the latest
scam emails asks recipients to log onto a webpage and provide
account details or risk "restriction and removal" of the account.
The email and the associated log-in webpage look quite legitimate
and resemble official PayPal documents. However, they are clever
fakes designed to trick recipients into sending their PayPal
log-in information to cyber-criminals. Once the scammers have
this information, they can easily hijack the victim's account.
The usual method employed by phisher scammers is to randomly
send out thousands of scam emails in the hope of netting just a
few victims. I've received the copy below and a number of others,
even though I am not a PayPal account holder.
If you receive one of these emails, do not respond and do not
click on the links provided.
PayPal has information about these fraudulent emails on its
Below is a copy of one of the scam emails:
Dear PayPal Customer
Discuss This Story
This e-mail is the notification of recent innovations taken by
PayPal to detect inactive customers and non-functioning
mailboxes. The inactive customers are subject to restriction and
removal in the next 1 month.Please confirm your email address
and credit card information by clicking the link below:
This notification expires July 1, 2004
Thanks for using PayPal!
This PayPal notification was sent to your mailbox. Your PayPal
account is set up to receive the PayPal Periodical newsletter
and product updates when you create your account. To modify
your notification preferences and unsubscribe, go to
[LINK REMOVED] and log in to your account. Changes to your
preferences may take several days to be reflected in our
mailings. Replies to this email will not be processed.
Copyrightę 2004 PayPal Inc. All rights reserved. Designated
trademarks and brands are the property of their respective
Patching Your Windows System
In the last issue I wrote about how to order the security update
CD from Microsoft. I'm happy to report that the copy I ordered
has already arrived, and I've successfully used it to patch my
However, the CD is only a partial solution. It is very important
that Microsoft Windows users check for security updates on a
regular basis. Devastating Internet worms like MS Blaster and
Sasser succeed only because there are so many vulnerable systems
available for them to exploit. Such worms cause millions of
dollars worth of damage around the world. Ironically, if a
significant majority of Windows users had taken just a few
minutes to apply the available security updates, these attacks
would have been annoying Internet whirly-winds rather than
destructive hurricanes. I know from personal experience that many
users don't regularly check for updates, or even understand why
it is important.
If you are not familiar with using Windows Update, the following
guide should point you in the right direction. This is an
important issue so I will do my best to provide extra help if you
need it. If you have a question about Windows Update, post a query
in the "Computer Problems" section of the Hoax-Slayer Forums
Windows Update instructions:
Discuss This Story
- Connect to the Internet, click "Start" and then click on the
item labelled "Windows Update" on the menu. Exactly where on the
menu it is located may depend on the particular flavour of
Windows you are using.
- Internet Explorer should now open at the Microsoft Windows
Update web page. Click the link labelled "Scan for Updates".
- You may be prompted to download one or more small programs
that are needed for the scanning procedure. Click "OK" when
prompted, so that the scan can proceed.
- When the scan is finished, it will tell you if there are
updates available. The most important ones are those listed as
"Critical Updates and Service Packs" or just "Critical Updates".
- Click on the link for "Critical Updates" and it will present
you with the option of selecting and downloading the updates.
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
is a worm that sends itself to email addresses it
finds on the infected computer. The subject line, message body
and attachment name of the emails vary but the attachment will
have a .exe file extension.
Variations of the Korgo
worm continue to spread.
These worms use the LSASS vulnerability present in unpatched
Windows 2000, and XP systems.
It is very important that Windows users visit Windows Update on a
regular basis to ensure that have the latest patches for their
operating system. See the article above for details.
Discuss This Story
Roach Eggs on Envelopes Hoax Email
Below is an example of yet another horror story email that
involves creepy-crawlies. This one involves cockroaches rather
than spiders, and relies for effect on our natural human revulsion
at the thought of insects invading our anatomy.
Although it makes for a lovely little in-box tale, there is not
a grain of truth in it. A little research on the subject reveals
that roach eggs are actually laid in batches and stored in an egg
case. Depending on the species, each egg case can hold as many as
52 individual eggs and the eggs cannot survive outside this case.
Therefore, if the story were true, the hapless victim would have
ended up with a mouth full of the critters rather than just one.
Also, the egg cases are quite large, and even if one did end up
on the lickable portion of envelopment, it is quite unlikely that
the lickee would not have noticed it!
What's more, the claim that the story was reported on CNN appears
to be false. A search of the CNN site reveals no mention of the
story. A similar, and equally false, tale claims that a girl was
found to have roach eggs in her salivary glands as a result of
eating a taco. The similarity of the emails is further evidence
that both stories are fiction.
Mind you, the email's advice to "never lick an envelope" might be
worth heeding. The taste of the glue can make your coffee taste
An example of the hoax:
Subject: Licking Envelopes
Discuss This Story
A woman was working in a post office in California. One day she
licked he envelopes and postage stamps instead of using a sponge.
That very day the lady cut her tongue on the envelope. A week
later, she noticed an abnormal swelling of her tongue. She went
to the doctor, and they found nothing wrong. Her tongue was not
sore or anything. A couple of days later, her tongue started to
swell more, and it began to get really sore, so sore, that she
could not eat. She went back to the hospital, and demanded
something be done. The doctor took an x-ray of her tongue and
noticed a lump. He prepared her for minor surgery. When the
doctor cut her tongue open, a live cockroach crawled out!!!!
There were roach eggs on the seal of the envelope. The egg was
able to hatch inside of her tongue, because of her saliva. It
was warm and moist...
This is a true story reported on CNN.
Andy Hume wrote "Hey, I used to work in an envelope factory.
You wouldn't believe the things that float around in those gum
applicator trays. I haven't licked an envelope for years!"
To All: I used to work for a print shop (32 years ago) and we
were told NEVER to lick the envelopes. I never understood why
until I had to go into storage and pull out 2500 envelops that
were already printed for a customer who was doing a mailing and
saw several squads of roaches roaming around inside a couple of
boxes with eggs everywhere. They eat the glue on the envelopes.
I think print shops have a harder time controlling roaches than
a restaurant. I always buy the self sealing type. Or if need be
I use a glue stick to seal one that has the type of glue that
needs to be wet to stick.
PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO YOUR FRIENDS. After reading this you will
never lick another envelope or stamp ever again
Tip of the Week: Text to Speech
ReadPlease is an excellent freeware program that converts text to
speech. To use it, you simply copy and paste the text you want
to hear into the program window and press "play". There are two
female and two male voices to choose from and you can vary the
speed of the voices as well as the font size of the written text.
I use ReadPlease as a way of checking essays or other written
work. Actually hearing the material spoken out loud can help to
identify grammatical errors, missing words and even spelling
You can also use ReadPlease to read emails or website content
while you relax with your morning coffee.
A bonus for me is that my young children love it. They can type
in words or sentences and have it spoken back to them very slowly
or very fast. Also, if they type in a random string of letters,
the voices come out with some weird sounds which the kids think
The standard version of the software is free, but you can also
purchase a "plus" version.
Read more information and download the program
Discuss This Story
Feedback from Readers and Site Visitors
If you receive a hoax or scam email, I would appreciate it if you
would send me a copy
This week I've received quite a few new examples of the MSN Contact List Virus Hoax
Another popular topic was the Glade Fire Hazard email that I've
I've also received several queries about the following email,
which appears to be a phisher scam:
Thank you for your order.
The payment has been sent successfully
Your order would be shipped during next two days by USPS Red
Your credit card is billed for J117.99 by "Goretex Liquor Store".
To track your order delivery use this link:
I'm currently doing some research about this scam email.
One email hoax that never seems to stop circulating is the UPS Uniforms Hoax
. Every week, I receive a number of examples and
enquires relating to this hoax.
The article about the Camel Spiders Hoax
is still one of the most popular pages on the Hoax-Slayer site.
Thank you very much for the examples you have submitted.
Discuss This Story
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