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Issue 32 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 32: 27th July, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Giant Skeleton Hoax

Summary:
Emails with attached images supposedly depicting the skeletal remains of gigantic humans claim that the skeletons were unearthed in the Arabian or Indian deserts.

Status:
False

Example 1:(Submitted, July 2004)
Subject: [Fwd: Interesting discovery]

FYI. Just got this Email, only God knows better about this story, but check it out:

Recent gas exploration activity in the south east region of the Arabian desert uncovered a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size. This region of the Arabian desert is called the Empty Quarter, or in Arabic, 'Rab-Ul-Khalee'. The discovery was made by the Aramco Exploration team. As God states in the Quran that He had created people of phenomenal size the like of which He has not created since. These were the people of Aad where Prophet Hud was sent. They were very tall, big, and very powerful, such that they could put their arms around a tree trunk and uproot it. Later these people, who were given all the power, turned against God and the Prophet and transgressed beyond all boundaries set by God. As a result they were destroyed.

Ulema's of Saudi Arabia believe these to be the remains of the people of Aad. Saudi Military has secured the whole area and no one is allowed to enter except the ARAMCO personnel. It has been kept in secrecy, but a military helicopter took some pictures from the air and one of the pictures leaked out into the internet in Saudi Arabia. See the attachment and note the size of the two men standing in the picture in comparison to the size of the skeleton !!

Giant Skeleton


Example 2:(Submitted, July 2007)
Subject: FW: Legendary skeleton

Recent exploration activity in the northern region of India uncovered a skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size. This region of the Indian desert is called the Empty Quarter.

The exploration team also found tablets with inscriptions that stated that our Gods of Indian mythologicalyore, Brahma, had created people of phenomenal size the like of which He has not created since. They were very tall, big, and very powerful, such that they could put their arms around a tree trunk and uproot it. They were created to bring order among us since we were always fighting with each other. One of he sons of Bhima of the Pandava brothers is also thought of to have been carrying these genes. Later these people, who were given all the power turned against all our Gods and transgressed beyond all boundaries set. As a result they were destroyed by God Shiva.

The Geo Exploration team believes these to be the remains of those people.

Govt of India has secured the whole area and no one is, allowed to enter except the NatGeo personnel.

Giant Skeleton 1

Giant Skeleton 2

Giant Skeleton 3

Giant Skeleton 4

Giant Skeleton News Artcile Scan


Commentary:
This classic leg-pull has now been circulating via email, blogs and forums for several years and has even been published by some news outlets as factual. In fact, the "giant skeleton" images that travel with these messages are not photographs depicting real discoveries but instead clever manipulations. A lot of recipients would be quick to doubt the authenticity of the images. However, submissions indicate that the high quality of the fake images coupled with the vaguely plausible explanations that accompany them are apparently enough to convince many recipients that the "discoveries" are genuine.

So far, there have been two popular variants of the hoax. The first variant (Example 1 above) claims that a skeleton of a gigantic human was discovered during a gas exploration in the south east region of the Arabian desert and sports an attached photograph to "prove" the claim. However, the cleverly created image of the giant skeleton is actually an entry in an image manipulation contest by artist "IronKite" in which participants were instructed to create "a picture of an archaeological discovery that looks so real, had it not appeared at Worth1000, people might have done a double take".

The message tries to add legitimacy to its fanciful tale by referencing the Quran's Prophet Hud and the people of Aad (or "Ad"). Some Islamic references do claim that the people of Aad were thought to be giants. However, other material describes them as having a "stature tall among the nations" or as simply being "physically well-built". The Christian Bible also makes mention of giants.

The second variant (Example 2 above) moves the "action" to the Indian desert and replaces the Islamic references with mentions of characters in Indian mythology, including Brahma and Bhima's son. According to Indian legend, Bhima's son Ghatotkacha was a powerful fighter with magical abilities, although he is not generally described as a giant. Other than the change in mythological references, much of the wording in the two hoax variants is virtually identical.

The Indian based variant includes IronKite's image along with three other giant skeleton pictures that also originate from the same Worth1000 contest. The second picture in the set, complete with giant revolver, is titled everlasting rest and was created by amaranto. The third image is an entry simply named Giant Skeleton and was created by Anakinnnn. And the fourth image in the set is named Uncovered Giant and was created by Trit.

The hoax was apparently republished by several media outlets in Indian, Bangladesh and elsewhere. A scan of one of these newspaper articles is included in one version of the hoax email. Such articles have given the hoax undeserved credibility.

IronKite's creation has even been featured in a YouTube video entitled "Proof evolution is an evil lie from satan (the devil)". The video's creator uses IronKite's giant skeleton, along with other dubious images, as "proof" that giants once lived on Earth. The inclusion of a well-documented hoax image, in addition to a number of logical flaws, seriously undermines the video maker's credibility and has earned him the ridicule of his fellow YouTubers.

The image and "Arabian desert discovery" description is also included in another fanciful YouTube video warning of impending disaster for Earth. Again, the blatant use of a well-known hoax as "proof" decimates what little credibility the video had to begin with.

Even if you do believe that a race of giants once walked the Earth, you can rest assured that these photographs do not depict some of their remains. In their original context as part of a Worth1000 contest, the status of the images as purely fictional "archaeological discoveries" is quite clear. Apparently, however, some unknown prankster stole IronKite's image from its original setting, added some seemingly relevant text, and sent it on its way. Perhaps due largely to the talent of its creator, the image has circulated ever since. In due course, others have apparently added more Worth1000 images to the hoax messages.



References:
Worth1000: Archaeological Anomalies
PROPHET HUD
Dictionary of Islam : Letter G
Giants in the Bible
Ubar
Brahma
Ghatotkacha
Solving the mystery of the Giant Skeleton



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Nigerian Scams Revisited

The so-called "Nigerian scam" is one of the longest running that I know about. In fact, it predates the Internet and email. The scams are also known as "419 scams" after the appropriate part of the Nigerian criminal code. The scammers still use surface mail and faxes as well as email. There are a great many versions of this scam. Although many originate out of Nigeria, hence the generic term "Nigerian scam", it is certainly not only Nigerian based criminals that send them. In spite of the longevity of this type of scam and the large amounts of publicity that it has received, many people around the world are still being conned out of substantial sums of money. I regularly receive enquiries from Internet users who have received Nigerian scam emails and do not know what they are about.

Basically, the scam works like this. You receive an unsolicited message that masquerades as some manner of business proposition, request for assistance, notice of a potential inheritance, or opportunity to help a charity. In fact, there is a seemingly endless array of cover stories that the scammers use in order to draw potential victims into the con. In spite of this diversity, virtually all of the scam messages share a common theme. The messages all claim that your help is needed to access a large sum of money, usually many millions of dollars.

The scammers use a variety of stories to explain why they need your help to access the funds.

For example:

The messages offer to let you keep a significant percentage of the funds in question in exchange for your assistance. This percentage is the bait that the scammers use to entice potential victims deeper into the scam. Once a recipient has taken the bait, and initiated a dialogue with the scammers, he or she will soon receive requests for "fees" that the scammer claims are necessary for processing costs, tax and legal fees, or bribes to local officials.

The scammers will warn the victim that these advance fees need to be paid before the funds can be procured. In reality, the supposed funds do not exist. The major purpose of these scam messages is to trick recipients into parting with their money in the form of these advance fees. Fraudulent requests for fees will usually continue until the victim realizes he or she is being conned and stops sending money. In some cases, the scammers gain enough information to access the victim's bank account directly or steal the victim's identity.

If you receive a Nigerian scam message, you should not respond to the scammer in any way. Do not provide the scammers with any information about yourself. If you have lost money to a Nigerian scam, you should report it to the relevant authority in your country.

Read information about reporting Nigerian scams.

Read a US Secret Service article about Nigerian scams.

More Nigerian scam examples and resources.

Two typical examples of Nigerian Scams are included below:

SUBJECT: CHARITY ASSISTANCE.

Hello Friend.
As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me because i believe everyone will die someday. My name is Sanni Saed, a merchant in Dubai U.A.E.

I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer . It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts.I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone(not even myself)but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focused on my business asthat was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the moneyin the world.

I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that God has called me, I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as a few close friends.

I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul so, I have decided to give alms to charity ganizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth.

Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria and Pakistan, they refused and kept the money to themselves. Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them.

The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of twenty million united states dollars that I have with a finance/Security Company abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations. I have set aside 10 % for you and for your time. God be with you.

Regards,
Sanni Saed.


SUBJECT: (URGENT BUSINESS ASSISTANCE STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL)

COMPLIMENTS OF THE SEASON

Good Day!

I am the manager of bills and exchange at the foriegn remittance department of the (ABN AMRO BANK AMSTERDAM ). I am writting you this letter to ask for your support and co-operation to carry out this transaction. We discovered some abandoned sum $15,500,000(FIFTEEN MILLION, FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND U.S DOLLAR ) in an account that belongs to one of our foriegn customer who died along-side his entire family in march this year in a terrorist train bomb blast in Spain some few months ago.Since this development,we have advertised for his next of kin or any close relation to come forward to claim this money,but nobody came yet to apply for the claim.

To this effect,i and other official in my department have decided to look for a trusted foriegn partner who can stand in as the next of kin of the deceased as we cannot do it only ourselves and claim this money.We need a foreign partner to apply for the claim on our behalf because of the fact that the customer was a foreign and we don't want this money to go into the treasury as unclaimed fund.

Every document to effect this process will emanate from my table and i will perfect every document to be in accordance with the banking law and guideline,so you have nothing to worry about and we have agreed that 30% of this money will be for you,while 10%will be for any expenses incured on both sides wihile 60% will be for my colleagues and me. If you are willing to help us,please indicate by replying this letter and putting in your name, private telephone number,fax and permanent residential address via my private email address below.I awaits your immediate response to enable us start this transaction as soon as i recieved your reply,i will send you a text application form for immediate APPLICATIION OF CLAIM.

Please contact me even if you are not intrested in my proposal to you to enable us scout for another partner in the event of non-interest on your part. Thanks for your co-operation

E-MAIL :pietjan2000@netscape.net
Mr Piet Van Jan


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Progesterex - Sterility Date Rape Drug Hoax

Summary:
Email claims that a sterilization pill called Progesterex is being mixed with the date rape drug Rohypnol to facilitate sexual assaults that leave the victim sterile.

Status:
False

Example 1:(Submitted, July 2004)
For guys please take care of your Girlfriend.... Ladies, be more alert and cautious when getting a drink offer from guys.Good guys out there, please forward this message to your ladyfriends.
Boyfriends and husbands, take heed.

There is a new drug that has been out for less than a year - Progesterex, a sterilization pill, that is now being used by rapists at parties to rape AND sterilize their victims. Progesterex is available to vets to sterilize large animals. Rumor has it that the Progesterex is being used together with Rohypnol, the date rape drug. As with Rohypnol, all they have to do is drop it into the girl's drink. The next morning, the girl will not remember a thing that had taken place the night before. Progesterex, which dissolves in drinks just as easily, makes the victim unable to conceive from the rape, so the rapist needn't worry about having a paternity test identifying him months later.

The drug's effects AREN'T TEMPORARY. Progesterex is used to sterilize horses. Any female that takes it WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO CONCEIVE. Anyone can get this drug from anyone who is in vet school. It's that easy, and Progesterex is about to break out big on campuses everywhere.

Believe it or not, there is even a site on the internet telling people how to use it. Please!


Example 2:(Submitted, November 2007)
*** PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THIS...****

...READ CAREFULY AND PASS IT ON...


Please advise your daughters and send to as many people, this is very tragic

A woman at the nightclub Cobar [NSW] on Saturday night was taken by 5 men, who according to hospital and police reports, gang raped her before dumping her. Unable to remember the events of the evening, tests later confirmed the repeat rapes along with traces of Rohypnol in her blood, with Progesterex, which is essentially a small sterilization pill. The drug now being used by rapists at parties to rape and sterilize their victims.

Progesterex is available to vets to sterilize large animals.

Rumor has it that Progesterex is being used together with Rohypnol, the date rape drug. As with Rohypnol, all they have to do is drop it into the girls drink. The girl can't remember a thing the next morning, of all that had taken place the night before. Progesterex, which dissolves in drinks just as easily, is such that the victim doesn't conceive from the rape and the rapist needn't worry about having a paternity test identifying him months later.

The drugs effects are not temporary- They are permanent! Progesterex was designed to sterilize horses. Any female who takes it will never be able to conceive. The bastards can get this drug from anyone who is in vet school or any university. It's that easy, and Progesterex is about to break out big every where. Believe it or not, there are even sites on the Internet telling people how to use it.

Please COPY this to everyone you know, especially girls. Be careful when you're out, and don't leave your drink unattended. Please make the effort to pass this onto all you know......Guys, please inform all your female friends and relatives. Girls, keep your drinks safe at all times, and men, look after the girls you're with.

Please pass this on to all your friends and family... Thank you


Commentary:
According to this long running email "warning", rapists are now mixing a drug called "Progesterex" with the date-rape drug Rohypnol in order to sterilize their victims. Versions of the message have been circulating continuously since 1999. The message claims that rapists are using the drug in order to avoid possible detection via a paternity test if their victim falls pregnant. Supposedly, the effects of Progesterex are permanent and even one dose is enough to stop a female from ever conceiving a child. The email claims that Progesterex is a veterinary drug designed to sterilize horses.

However, there is no super sterility drug called Progesterex, either for human or veterinary use. Extensive research reveals no credible information* about a drug called Progesterex. The warning has also been denounced by relevant organizations around the world.

The Australian Veterinary Association notes:
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) advises that an email circulating about a veterinary drug called "progesterex" being used in drink-spiking incidents is a hoax. The story has been perpetuated after being reported recently in some regional newspapers.

Dr Barry Smyth, President of Equine Veterinarians Australia, a special interest group of the AVA, said he has received a number of queries recently from members of the public concerned about drink-spiking incidents involving a drug which is supposedly used to sterilise horses.

"There is no such drug as progesterex and to our knowledge, there is no drug currently being used on horses for sterilisation," Dr Smyth said.
Pharmaceutical Journal online has also denied the existence of such a drug:
As a result of a bogus e-mail circulating since 1999, some pharmacists are receiving enquiries from customers about progesterex, described in the e-mail as a sterilisation drug used in cases of date rape.

Pharmacists should be aware that in searches of world wide medical databases and information resources the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has found no medicine (either for human or veterinary use) with either the brand or generic name of progesterex.
The perpetrator of this heinous hoax may have used the fictional name "Progesterex" because the name sounds similar to the name of the naturally occurring steroid hormone progesterone that is connected to the menstrual cycle and pregnancy in humans and other species. Veterinaries do sometimes administer progesterone to prevent mares from coming into heat. However, this treatment certainly does not cause permanent sterility and is not intended to do so. The hormone and other synthetically produced analogues also have a variety of medical applications in humans, none of which are designed to cause sterility.

Certainly, Rohypnol is a real drug that is indeed used to facilitate sexual assaults. However, there are no believable reports at all of Rohypnol being mixed with other drugs that cause sterility.

Drink spiking and date rape are very real problems, but forwarding this sort of hysterical nonsense will do nothing whatsoever to help. In fact, it may even add to the emotional trauma endured by a date-rape victim if she believes she may have been given Progesterex and is therefore permanently sterile.

If you receive this hoax, please do not spread it further by sending it to others. And please take a moment to let the sender know that the message contains dangerous misinformation and should not be forwarded.

* Note: At the time of writing, one Wikipedia article claimed that a drug called "Progesterex" is used to prevent mares from coming into heat. However, the article lacks credibility because it contains no references to back up this claim, and as noted above, experts refute the existence of a drug by that name. It is possible that the author has misnamed the hormone "progesterone" which is used in veterinary medicine as discussed above. Moreover, the article is listed in the "Fictional drugs" category. In spite of the apparently incorrect claim that "Progesterex" is a real drug, the article nevertheless correctly dismisses the Progesterex sterility date-rape warning email as a hoax.

References:
Don't be taken in by progesterex hoax: AVA
Bogus e-mail (progesterex)
Progesterone - Its Uses and Effects
Progesterone in Oil For Veterinary Use
'Progesterex'': Horse and human sterilizer, date rape drug, or urban legend?
Progesterex -- New Date Rape Drug?


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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.

A new and dangerous version of Mydoom is currently spreading. Symantec has given this worm a category of 4, which is "severe". It is very important that you keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.

W32.Mydoom.L@mm is a mass-mailing worm that searches the infected computer for email addresses and uses its own SMTP engine to send itself to these addresses. The FROM field of the infected email will be spoofed. The attachment will have a .bat, .cmd, .com, .exe, .pif, .scr, or .zip extension. The attachment name could contain a domain name randomly selected from the infected computer.

New variants of the Beagle worm have also been hitting inboxes. The Beagle worms use their own SMTP engine to send themselves and can open a backdoor to the infected computer. The FROM field of the infected email will be spoofed. One variant, W32.Beagle.AG@mm has been given a category of 3 by Symantec Security Response.

There is a removal tool available for the Beagle Worm.

More information about email worm spoofing.

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Read the EULA

If you download a lot of software, it can be tempting to just skip over the End User License Agreement without actually reading it. This is not a good habit to get into. Some programs have some pretty dubious conditions of use hidden in the legalese of their EULA's. For example, by digitally signing the EULA, you may have given the application developers explicit permission to collect information such as surfing habits and transmit it back to their servers. In other words, you may inadvertently give permission for intrusive, and sometimes unstable, adware to be installed on your computer. If this intention to collect information from end users is not mentioned in the EULA, then the program can be thought of as containing spyware, although the end result is the same. Furthermore, anti-spyware scanners such as Ad-Aware will not always flag information-gathering components if their existence has been noted in a EULA.

Of course, in some cases, you may be quite willing to allow software components to collect information from your computer in exchange for using a program for free. However, it is important that you know about the components before you install the software, hence a thorough reading of the EULA is worth the effort.

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Tip of the Week: Download a Spare Web Browser

On a typical Internet connected system, the web browser is likely to be one of the most heavily used programs on the computer.

A web browser is quite a complex program. Among other things, it has to:

Given this heavy workload and complexity, it is not surprising that web browsers are a common source of computer problems.

Therefore, it is a good idea to download and install a secondary browser that can be used as a backup when things go wrong with your primary browser.

Some instances in which you might have a need to use your spare browser are when:

A spare browser can help avoid a Catch 22 situation in which you are aware that the solution to your browser problem is most probably available on the Internet but you cannot access any websites to find it.

Largely because it comes preinstalled on Windows based systems, Microsoft Internet Explorer is by far the most widely used browser. However, there are several other fully functional web browsers that are freely available for download. Two I would personally recommend are:

Opera

Firefox

By the way, in my opinion, both the browsers mentioned above are considerably superior to Internet Explorer. For quite some time, I have used Opera as my default browser

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