Debunking email hoaxes and exposing Internet scams since 2003!

Hoax-Slayer Logo Hoax-Slayer Logo

DividerDivider
Home    About    New Articles    RSS Feed    Subscriptions    Contact
DividerDivider


Site Navigation

Divider









Issue 31 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 31: 13th July, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Read Previous Issues


Hoax-Slayer is a Free Monthly Web-Based Newsletter brought to you by Brett Christensen

The Hoax-Slayer Newsletter keeps you informed about the latest email hoaxes and current Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also features anti-spam tips, computer security information, pertinent articles and more.

As soon as the newsletter is published each month, subscribers are sent a notification email with a direct link to the latest issue. The Hoax-Slayer Newsletter is absolutely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time either by following a link in the notification email or visiting the Hoax-Slayer Unsubscribe page.

To get your free subscription, enter your complete email address in the form below and click the "Subscribe" button. Concerned about giving out your email address online? I will never sell or give away your email address, or any other personal information, for any reason what so ever.

Read the Hoax-Slayer Privacy Policy for more information.



Subscribe to the newsletter via RSS feed

Subscription Options in Detail



Grateful Iraqi Sculptor Email

Summary:
Email claims that a grateful Iraqi sculptor created statues as a way of thanking US soldiers for liberating Iraq (Full commentary below.)

Status:
Statues are real, but the description is misleading and inaccurate

Example:(Submitted, November 2007)
Subject: FW: THE STATUE

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS? WHERE THIS IS? READ AND LEARN ABOUT THE STATUE


THIS IS GREAT! and something every American should see. What is it? See below below the photo........... Have a great day. God bless.

This statue currently stands outside the Iraqi palace, now home to the 4th Infantry division. It will eventually be shipped home and put in the memorial museum in Fort Hood, Texas.

The statue was created by an Iraqi artist named Kalat, who for years was forced by Saddam Hussein to make the many hundreds of bronze busts of Saddam that dotted Baghdad.

Kalat was so grateful for the Americans liberation of his country; he melted 3 of the heads of the fallen Saddam and made the statue as a memorial to the American soldiers and their fallen warriors. Kalat worked on this memorial night and day for several months.

To the left of the kneeling soldier is a small Iraqi girl giving the soldier comfort as he mourns the loss of his comrade in arms.

Do you know why we don't hear about this in the news? Because it is heart warming and praise worthy. The media avoids it because it does not have the shock effect that a flashed breast or controversy of politics does. But we can do something about it. We can pass this along to as many people as we can in honor of all our brave military who is making a difference. Thank you!!

Send this to at least 1/2 of your address book!!!!!







Commentary:
Has a talented Iraqi artist created bronze statues of a grieving American soldier and a comforting child out of gratitude for the US lead liberation of his country? Not really!

The statues are real, as is the artist. It is also true that the statues were made from bronze obtained by melting down effigies of Saddam. However, the sculptor, Khalid Alussy, created the statues because he was paid to do so, not because he was grateful to American soldiers. In fact, an article by Yochi J. Dreazen of the Wall Street Journal notes that Mr. Alussy is critical of the role played by the United States in Iraq and is bitter about a relative killed in a US rocket attack.

Also, the artist was not exactly "forced by Saddam Hussein" to make statues of the dictator, although he may indeed have been afraid of the consequences of refusing. In fact, he was commissioned, and paid, by the Iraqi regime to create the statues.

The Wall Street Journal Article notes:
"I made the statues of Saddam even though I didn't want to because I needed money for my family and to finish my education," he said. "And I decided to make statues for the Americans for the exact same reasons."

Alussy's initial asking price was far higher than the officers had expected. He blamed the steep price of bronze. So the Americans decided to recycle the bronze Hussein-on-horseback twins.

"We figured we were going to blow them up anyway, so why not take the bronze and use it for our own statues," Fuss said.
Sgt. Maj. Charles Fuss and other officers from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division commissioned the statues as a tribute to soldiers lost in Iraq.
Sculputers at Fort Hood
The sculptures are now in Fort Hood, Texas.


The sculptor was paid well for his work. He received a total of $18000 for the commission.

The email claims that the mainstream media has avoided the story because it is "heart warming and praise worthy" and lacks shock value. However, news outlets have not reported these "heart warming and praise worthy" elements because they are simply untrue, not because of some callous decision regarding their perceived value as news. It is unclear who penned this factually mangled version of events, but it is highly inaccurate and misleading, and forwarding it will serve no good purpose.

That said, these statues are indeed a fitting and finely rendered tribute to soldiers lost in the Iraq conflict, regardless of the true motives behind their creation.

Reference:
Elements of Iraq fill bronze tribute to fallen soldiers


[TOP]



More US Bank Phisher Scams

Phisher scammers are once again targeting the US Bank. A series of fraudulent emails that falsely claim to be from the US Bank have been hitting inboxes. The scammers have used a range of messages that are designed to trick recipients into clicking on a link provided. The link leads to a fake website that requests victims to provide financially sensitive information such as passwords and account numbers. The fake site closely resembles a genuine US Bank web page. However, the site is not part of the US Bank website and any information entered into the bogus form will be sent directly to the scammers. Once the scammers have this information, they will be able to access the victim's bank account.

The example included below informs recipients that they are required to verify their account information. Others claim that account details needs to be updated "due to inactive members, fraud and spoof reports". Still other scam emails inform recipients that their account has been limited due to "unauthorised third-party" access.

If you receive one of these emails, do not respond in any way. Do not click on the links provided.

US bank has more information regarding these fraudulent emails on their website

Read more about phisher scams


Dear US Bank Customer, During our regular update and verification of the Internet Banking Accounts, we could not verify your current information. Either your information has been changed or incomplete, as a result your access to use our services has been limited. Please update your information.

To update your account information and start using our services please click on the link below:

[Link Removed]

Note: Requests for information will be initiated by US Bank Business Development; this process cannot be externally requested through Customer Support.

Sincerely,
US Bank Accounts Department.


Discuss This Story

[TOP]



Anti-Spam Tip: Trim email addresses when forwarding

A hidden, but non-trivial side effect of forwarding emails is that your email address is likely to be forwarded along with it and will probably end up in a large number of email in-boxes in diverse regions of the planet. Once the forwarded email begins its journey from your computer, to the Rest Of The World, you have absolutely no control over how many times the email gets forwarded and, of course, how many times your private email address gets forwarded right along with it. Your email address is likely to end up, not only in the private in-boxes of complete strangers, but also on mailing lists, news groups, online forums and the hard copy someone printed off to show Great Uncle Vinny. Sooner or later, it is possible, even probable, that your email address will cross the in-box of your friendly neighbourhood spammer. Spammers must love emails that have been forwarded a number of times. For them, the dozens of valid addresses that such emails have collected upon their journey through cyberspace must seem an enticing bonus. This is certainly not the only way that spammers get hold of email addresses, but I do believe that it is a significant factor.

So, what can you do to minimize the risk of being added to a spammers list via this method?

Well, as a courtesy, you can make sure to remove any existing email addresses from the headers before forwarding the email. However, this will not stop your email address from escaping into the wilds of cyberspace.

You could include a polite note at the top of the email asking that recipients "Help Stop Spam: Please remove email addresses before forwarding". This could be effective, as it would perhaps help to remind and educate people about the issue. Especially if your little reminder stayed intact and legible for subsequent forwardings. On the other hand, you couldn't be sure that people would actually carry out this request.

The method I favour takes a little more time than simply clicking the "Forward" button but is probably the most effective. If I'm sending on an email that I suspect will "keep on keeping on", I copy the body of the email, paste it to a new email and send it using a throw-away "secondary" account. If I'm sending it to multiple recipients, I use the Blind Carbon Copy facility of my email client to further protect their privacy.

Discuss This Story

[TOP]



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 few days.

Several variants of the Lovegate mass-mailing worm are currently circulating. The worms spread by using the DCOM RPC Interface Buffer Overrun Vulnerability in Microsoft Windows systems.

Another variant of the Beagle worm, W32.Beagle.AA@mm is hitting in-boxes. This worm uses its own SMTP engine to spread itself to email addresses it finds on the infected system. It also opens a backdoor on TCP port 1234.

W32.Hardoc@mm is a worm that sends itself to email addresses found in the Windows address book and .html files on the infected machine.
The email has the following characteristics:

Subject: (One of the following)
Re:
Fw:
Power Point

Attachment:
PowerPoint.scr

Discuss This Story

[TOP]



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

[TOP]



Freeware Review: IrfanView

An excellent freeware program that I use a lot is IrfanView. IrfanView is a simple graphics viewer for Windows. It is great for viewing photos and other images, especially in full screen mode.

You can also use the software for some light graphics manipulation tasks, such as changing formats, resizing and applying some cool effects to name just a few. There is an option to easily set up slide shows of your image collections.

IrfanView is fast loading, highly configurable and quite easy to use.

The software is free for non-commercial use and runs on Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP.

You can download IrfanView and get more information from:
http://www.irfanview.com/index.htm

Discuss This Story

[TOP]



The Hoax_Slayer Newsletter is published by:
Brett M.Christensen
Queensland, Australia
All Rights Reserved
©Brett M. Christensen, 2008
Questions or Comments