Issue 36 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 36: 26th August, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
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The King of Sweden Has Not Been Shot
According to online news reports, a fake BBC news story is responsible for an Internet rumour that claims that Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden has been shot in Athens while attending the 2004 Olympic Games.
The fake site was designed to look like a real BBC news story and carried the headline Sweden's King murdered
. The story goes on to claim that:
Swedens King Carl XVI Gustaf was shot in Athens this evening when he was on his way back to his hotel after watching the Swedish table tennis star Jan-Ove Waldner beat Timo Boll, Germany, in the Olympic games.
Apparently, the story has already begun to circulate via email and is sure to spread far and wide.
Personally, I do not find these sort of fake news reports in the least bit funny. Falsely claiming that someone has died is in exceedingly poor taste. Another false news report
recently claimed that American Idol's William Hung died of an intentional drug overdose.
Luckily, both Mr. Hung and the King of Sweden are alive and well.
King's 'murder' an online hoax"
'Website' claims king's death"
Discuss This Story
Xbox Giveaway Scam Resurfaces
Yet another version of the Xbox Give Away Scam is spreading far
and wide via email. The email is virtually identical to earlier
versions except that the link included points to a new site,
www.gift-winner.com. Very similar sites associated with the
earlier variants have now disappeared from the web.
I have received a number of examples of the email over the last
few days. Interestingly, all the examples have the same
"pass code" number. If the information in the email were true,
I would have thought that the pass code number would be unique
to the recipient.
The webmasters of the site claim that they give away the prizes
out of a "mutual admiration for giving, even when we were not
receiving", but I suspect that their real motivations are
decidedly less lofty. This may be simply an attempt to scam
recipients out of a few dollars in the form of "postage and
handling" and other fees on a "prize" that will never arrive.
The site states that:
All taxes, including shipping and handling, and other incidental
expenses not mentioned herein are the responsibility of the
It also states that by entering your contact details on the site
you "agree to receive offers from us, our affiliates, and
partners", so the "competition" might also be a ruse to harvest
email addresses for spamming purposes.
The email claims an affiliation with Microsoft, but the company
has denied this
This "competition" has all the characteristics of a scam and I
very much doubt that any prizes exist. It would be unwise to
supply personal information on the site or send money in the
hope of procuring your "prize". The emails should simply be
The latest version of the scam email is included below:
Discuss This Story
Your email address was entered into our Microsoft X-Box
promotional competition by either yourself or a friend, or
perhaps a family member, at http://www.gift-winner.com
This is a prize draw, you have actually won a brand new Microsoft
X-Box Gaming Console!
Your package also includes these top 5 games:
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Grand Theft Auto Double Pack
- NBA Street Vol. 2
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow
You are now invited to login to our website and claim your prize
that you have won. There are only 5 winners in total this month,
out of thousands of emails, so do count yourself lucky!
We have provided the following web link for you, it is temporary
and expires in 72 hours. If you do not login within this time,
your X-Box shall unfortunately be returned to the prize pool.
Here is your link!
On this page you will need to enter this pass code number to
This is very important. Do not lose that number!
Put in your address, and we will send your X-Box to you.
We hope that you will enjoy your new X-Box gaming console.
>From Microsoft and the Gift-Winner.com team!
New Versions of the MSN Contact Virus Hoax
A number of new versions of the MSN contact virus hoax have been
circulating over the last few weeks. The most popular one at
the moment warns against adding "firstname.lastname@example.org"
to your MSN contact list.
There are a great many variations of this hoax, all equally
false. The warnings are often the subject of online forum posts
as well as forwarded emails and IM messages. I have received
several examples in languages other than English, including
Portuguese and German.
The number of versions alone is enough to strongly
suggest that this is a hoax.
Furthermore, none of the versions actually name the "virus" nor
do they provide any means of checking the veracity of the claim.
None of the major anti-virus websites have information about a
virus like the one described, except to identify it as a hoax.
Also, the technical aspects of the message are fundamentally
flawed. Although it is possible for worms to spread via MSN
Messenger, the message implies that the email address itself
is a virus. This is not possible. To be infected, some sort of
file transfer needs to take place. If Messenger was configured
to automatically accept files from a contact list, then it is
possible that a virus could be sent by this new and sinister
"contact". But even if the virus was sent in this way, the
recipient would still have to explicitly open the file before
a computer was infected. Again, although it is possible to
disguise a link to a malicious webpage in an HTML email so that
it "looks" like an email address, the recipient would have to
actually click on the link before any virus threat was
If this was a real virus, the warning message would more than
likely give details of how the actual transfer of the "virus"
takes place and advise on how to avoid it. Instead, it states
a technical impossibility.
Such hoaxes do nothing more than clutter up the information
superhighway. These messages should be deleted without
Two popular examples that are currently circulating:
yo the_western_vampire hotmail.com' adds you to your msn,
dont accept it. its a virus. Tell everyone on ur msn
because if somebody on ur list adds them u get the virus
too, its a mutli threading virus capable of picking up
random msn accounts of an infected user's msn list. Copy and
paste this to EVERY ONE the_western_vampire hotmail.com'
adds you to your msn, dont accept it. Its a virus.
your a batty if you dont send this round, if
'email@example.com' adds you to your msn, dont accept it.
its a virus. Tell everyone on ur msn because if somebody on
ur list adds them u get the virus too, its a mutli threading
virus capable of picking up random msn accounts of an infected
user's msn list. Copy and paste this to EVERY ONE AND FAST
Discuss This Story
Virus Report: Weekly Virus Wrap-Up
For more information on current virus threats visit Symantec Security Response
Another variant of the Sasser worm, W32.Sasser.G
spreading. This worm exploits the LSASS vulnerability that is
present in unpatched Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems. As I
have said many times before, it is very important that users of
Windows systems keep their computers up-to-date by applying
security patches via Windows Update.
Read information about using Windows Update
Apparently, a new version of the Rbot worm, Rbot-GR
, has the
ability to hijack web cams on infected computers as well as
perform other nasty spying activities. Luckily, the worm is
not widely spread at this point.
Discuss This Story
McDonald's Ball Pit Death Hoax
The old hoax email about hypodermic needles in McDonald's ball
pits began circulating late last century and has spawned a number
of versions. This tale is so horrific that it is not surprising
that the email continues to spread.
Luckily, the email is a hoax. No little boy named Kevin Archer
died as a result of being pricked by a heroin filled hypodermic
needle in a McDonald's ball pit.
When the story first began circulating, McDonald's responded
with a statement debunking the rumour. According to McDonald's:
We have thoroughly investigated this rumor and it is absolutely
not true. There have been no such incidents ever reported at any
McDonald's. In addition, there has never been an article in any
newspaper regarding this rumor
Another indicator that this is a hoax is that the details keep
changing. An early version claimed that little Kevin Archer
died in October 1994. The version included below claims that
he died in October 2002. Some versions mention Sugerland, Texas
as the location of the little boy's death. Others are set in
different towns or do not specify any location at all. Some
versions state that the story was featured in the Houston
Chronicle. However, David Galloway, a former writer for the
Houston Chronicle, has denied this
Frankly, I would not be surprised if various undesirable items
found their way into playground ball pits. I guess that it's
even plausible that a needle could end up in a ball pit.
(When one of my children was in Grade 1, a needle was found
in the school sand pit).
However, this vague plausibility in no way warrants the
dissemination of this exaggerated and misleading tale. The
fact of the matter is that the email contains false
information and it should not be forwarded.
An example of the hoax email:
Subject: Ball Pits
Discuss This Story
I just got this. Scared me to death for all you Moms.
This isn't good. I wonder if it's authentic... unfortunately, I
think it is. I don't like to worry unnecessarily... but this is
Some of you might not be parents, but you may have nieces,
nephews, grandchildren or friends with children. This will
pertain to you too. As I read the following, my heart sank. I
urge each and every one of you to pass this on to as many people
as you can. I cannot stress how important this is! This is very
disturbing news. In addition to the following true story, I will
also add that my own sons were playing in the ball pit at "Chuck
E. Cheese's" one day. One son lost his watch, and was very upset.
We dug and dug in those balls, trying to find the watch. Instead,
we found vomit, food, feces, and other stuff I do not want to
discuss. I went to the manager and raised h*ll. Come to find out,
the ball pit is only cleaned out once a month. I have doubts that
it is even done that often. My kids will never play in another
Now read this: Hi, my name is Lauren Archer my son is
Kevin. On October 2, 2002 I took my only son to McDonald's for
his 3rd birthday. After he finished lunch, I allowed him to play
in the ball pit. When he started crying later, I asked him what
was wrong. He pointed to his back and said, Mommy, it hurts. I
looked, but couldn't find anything wrong with him at the time. I
bathed him when we got home, and it was at that point that I
found a welt on his left buttock. Upon investigation, it seemed
as if there was a splinter under the welt. I made a doctor
appointment for the next day to have it removed. In the meantime,
he started vomiting and shaking. Then, his eyes rolled back in
his head. We immediately went to the emergency room! My only son
died later that night. It turned out that the welt on his buttock
was the tip of a hypodermic needle that had broken off in his
skin. The autopsy revealed that Kevin had died from a heroine
overdose. The next day, the police removed the balls from the
ball pit and found rotten food, half-eaten candy, diapers, feces,
the stench of urine, and several hypodermic needles. Please
forward this! To all loving mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and
grandparents. Note: Some children have also gotten lice from ball
pits. The number of breaths we take does not measure life, but by
the moments that take our breath away. SEND THIS TO ANYONE YOU
KNOW WHO HAS SMALL CHILDREN, NIECES, NEPHEWS, OR GRANDCHILDREN!!
Tip of the Week: Some Handy Windows Keyboard Shortcuts
To quickly access the Properties dialog, double click the icon of
an application or file while pressing the alt key.
To quickly access the System Properties dialog, press the Windows
Key and the Pause / Break Key together.
To quickly open Windows Explorer, press the Windows Key and E Key
In many programs, Control + Z will undo the last action. Control
+ Y will redo the action.
Shift + F10 does the same as clicking the right mouse button.
Alt + F4 closes the active program.
Control + S saves what you are working on in many programs.
These may not work in *every* flavour of Windows Operating
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