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Issue 42 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 42: 21st October, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
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.

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SC Johnson Refutes Plastics in Microwaves Warning Email

SC Johnson, the makers of Saran® plastic wrap have recently contacted me regarding a widely circulated email that makes misleading claims about the safety of plastics in microwave ovens. The email warns consumers that heating food in plastic containers or plastic wrap can result in cancer causing agents being released into the food and specifically mentions Saran® wrap.

The company has strongly refuted this claim and has released the following statement.

S. C. Johnson & Son, Inc. 1525 Howe Street
Racine, WI 53403-2236
262.260.2000
July 30, 2004
Statement Regarding Plastics in the Microwave Hoax

. In 2002, SC Johnson became aware of an e-mail that was being widely circulated, which warned consumers about the alleged dangers of using plastics in the microwave. This e-mail claimed that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body, thereby increasing the risk of producing cancerous cells. SC Johnson has researched these claims and it is clear that the information is not only misleading, but also unnecessarily alarms consumers.

. When used in the microwave, there is no trace level migration of dioxins from any Saran™ or Ziploc® product. We know this because these products are 100% dioxin-free. You also should be aware that dioxins can only be formed when chlorine is combined with extremely high temperatures, such as the temperatures generated in waste incinerators. Those incinerators produce temperatures of more than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, an extreme temperature that even the most powerful consumer microwave ovens are unable to produce.

. Our Saran™ and Ziploc® products can be used with confidence when label directions are followed. All Saran™Wraps, Ziploc® Containers and microwaveable Ziploc® Bags meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator, and freezer temperatures.

. For more information, please contact Kelly Semrau, Vice President, Public Affairs and Communication at 262-260-2102.


Example of Hoax:
Subject: Caution Don't freeze your plastic water bottles with water. It is highly important that you should take time to read this. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens causes cancer. Especially breast cancer. Don't freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this also releases dioxin in the plastic. Dr. Edward Fujimoto from Castle hospital was on a TV program explaining this health hazard. (He is the manager of the Wellness Program at the hospital.) He was talking about dioxin and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Dioxin! are carcinogens and highly toxic to the cells of our bodies. Instead, he recommends using glass, Corning Ware, or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results...without the dioxin.

So! such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. Just safer to use tempered glass, corning ware, etc. He said we might remember when some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons. To add to this : Saran wrap placed over foods as they are nuked, with the high heat, actually drips poisonous toxins into the food, use paper towels.

Pass this on to your friends.


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Unborn Baby Footprint Image

The email containing this rather amazing image has been circulating since August 2004. Is the image a real depiction or a fake created with image manipulation software? At this point, no one seems to know for sure (except for the originators of the image, who so far appear to have remained silent).

The image has certainly created a lot of online debate, both for and against. Many people are of the opinion that an average uterus would be too thick and tough for anything less than super-baby to make such a prominent impression.





Subject: FW: Breath-Taking Picture Of The Year

Wow! Amazing!!!!

Unborn Footprint





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Cough CPR Email Forward

Summary:
Message claims heart doctors recommend that recipients learn "Cough CPR", a procedure that involves vigorous coughing as a potential means of surviving a heart attack when alone.

Status:
False - In no way condoned or recommended by medical authorities.

Example:(Submitted, August 2007)
Subject: IMPORTANT read this! Cough CPR

A cardiologist says If everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can bet that we'll save at least one life.

Read this... It could save your life!! Let's say it's 6.15 pm and you're driving home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job. You're really tired, upset and frustrated. Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself.

HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE

Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again. Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital. Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!

BE A FRIEND AND PLEASE SEND THIS ARTICLE TO AS MANY FRIENDS AS POSSIBLE


Commentary:
An email forward that offers spurious advice about how to survive a heart attack has been continually circulating around the Internet since at least 1999.

The message outlines a technique for surviving a heart attack while alone that involves vigorous coughing. According to the email, a cardiologist has advised forwarding the message to others in order to save lives. However, the alleged cardiologist is not named, nor is there any reference to a reputable medical institution. In my opinion, any life-critical "medical advise" that is not supported by credible reference material should be used with extreme caution.

It should be noted that the cough procedure outlined in the email is not, in itself, a hoax and has been researched and tested by medical experts. In fact, so called "Cough CPR" might be beneficial under certain controlled circumstances. However, this does not mean that the advice in the email message is valid and useful. The most important factor to consider is that, according to medical experts, cough CPR should only be performed under strict professional supervision.

According to the American Heart Association, "the usefulness of 'cough CPR' is generally limited to monitored patients with a witnessed arrest in the hospital setting". The American Heart Association article also notes:
The American Heart Association does not endorse "cough CPR," a coughing procedure widely publicized on the Internet. As noted in the American Heart Association's textbook Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, the American Heart Association DOES NOT TEACH THIS AS PART OF THE CORE CURRICULUM IN ANY COURSE.
Moreover, the Resuscitation Council in the UK "knows of no evidence that, even if a lone patient knew that cardiac arrest had occurred, he or she would be able to maintain sufficient circulation to allow activity, let alone driving to the hospital".

A victim would probably be better off directing his or her energy towards other life saving options such as seeking immediate help or calling the emergency number. The American Heart Association article also states:
The best strategy is to be aware of the early warning signs for heart attack and cardiac arrest and respond to them by calling [the emergency number in your country]. If you're driving alone and you start having severe chest pain or discomfort that starts to spread into your arm and up into your jaw (the scenario presented in the Internet article), pull over and flag down another motorist for help or phone [the emergency number in your country] on a cellular telephone.
Heart patient support organization Mended Hearts has also debunked the procedure:
Despite a contagious rumor, coughing doesn't prevent a heart attack. An e-mail that spread around the world like a contagious disease a few years ago claimed that anyone who feels heart attack symptoms while alone should cough "repeatedly and very vigorously, repeating a breath about every two seconds…until help arrives, or (a normal heartbeat returns)."

Wrong, says the American Heart Association.

"It's right up there with voodoo as far as I'm concerned," says Dr. Cary Fishbein, a cardiologist with the Dayton Heart Center.
Another version of the message arrives as an email attachment rendered in Microsoft PowerPoint format. Someone has gone to quite a lot of trouble to convert the original message into an attractive presentation complete with graphics and sound. In spite of the probable good intentions of the creator, the advice presented in the PowerPoint version is as equally spurious as it is in the email version. The PowerPoint version falsely attributes the information to an article in the "Journal Of General Hospital, Rochester". However the Rochester General Hospital denies that such an article exists and has included the following statement on its website:

Important Notice Regarding the article "How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone."

Hundreds of people around the country have been receiving an e-mail message entitled "How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone." This article recommends a procedure to survive a heart attack in which the victim is advised to repeatedly cough at regular intervals until help arrives.

The source of information for this article was attributed to ViaHealth Rochester General Hospital. This article is being propagated on the Internet as individuals send it to friends and acquaintances - and then those recipients of the memo send it to their friends and acquaintances, and so on.

We can find no record that an article even resembling this was produced by Rochester General Hospital within the last 20 years. Furthermore, the medical information listed in the article can not be verified by current medical literature and is in no way condoned by this hospital's medical staff. Also, both The Mended Hearts, Inc., a support organization for heart patients, and the American Heart Association have said that this information should not be forwarded or used by anyone. Please help us combat the proliferation of this misinformation. We ask that you please send this e-mail to anyone who sent you the article, and please ask them to do the same.
Thus, the "advice" presented in this email forward is not condoned by medical experts and it certainly should not be forwarded to "as many friends as possible". Forwarding this sort of misinformation is irresponsible. Using the procedure outlined in the message in place of immediately seeking medical help could actually cost a life rather than save it.

References:
American Heart Association: Cough CPR
Resuscitation Council: Statement on Cough CPR
Coughing Won't Fend Off a Heart Attack
Rochester General Hospital - Important Notice: How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone

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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.


Yet another variant of the MyDoom worm, W32.Mydoom.AF@mm, is causing problems. The worm searches the infected computer for email addresses and sends itself to them using its own SMTP engine. It can also allow remote access to the infected computer via a backdoor. The attachment file extension will be .cpl, .pif, or .scr.


A worm known as W32.Darby.B is using email, file-sharing networks and Internet Relay Chat to spread itself. The worm also tries to disable computer security applications by deleting certain files and terminating processes.


Another current worm threat, W32.Spybot.FCD, can be controlled remotely by way of Internet Relay Chat. The worm tries to steal information from the infected computer and can exploit vulnerabilities on Windows systems in order to spread. It can carry out Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and has backdoor capability.


W32.Bagz.D@mm is a worm that can modify the local hosts file in order to prevent access to certain websites. It can also disable computer security applications such as anti-virus software. The worm collects email addresses from the infected computer and sends itself using its own SMTP engine. It will have a .zip or an .exe file extension.

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Spam from Share Your Experiences.com

It appears that many people are still receiving the "Share Your Experience" spam emails.

Basically, the emails are just a hook to entice people to sign up for the company's dubious "service". The emails claim that "A user is attempting to share experiences and opinions about you via our website."

If you access the website via the link provided, you can view an "Experience Request" that lists some vague details. It may state that the user has information about you, but does not say what this information actually is. In order to gain more information, you need to use the "Identity Protection System" to contact the supposed user. However, to access the "Identity Protection System", you need to pay for a "Premium" membership.

Even after you fork out money to sign up for the service, it appears that the only way you can really find out what someone was supposed to have said about you is by using this completely anonymous "Identity Protection System". Apparently, the real identity of the author of the request is not revealed to you even if you are a premium subscriber. According to the site, "sharing of experience and opinions at this website occurs via direct, private email communication between two members using our Identity Protection System". Thus, *anybody* could have filed an "Experience Request", including the owners of the website, and there is no evidence that the user actually does have further information about you at all. In any case, anonymous "information" such as this is hardly worth procuring and certainly not worth paying for. What's more, in order to access the alleged information, you are dependant on the author's willingness to send it to you via the site's anonymous email system. In other words, you end up paying for a service that provides little more than a means of communicating with an unknown user.

There have been quite a few websites that offer almost identical services, including several "Word Of Mouth" sites. The sites are very similar in functionality and style, and I strongly suspect that the same people operate them all.

In short, this is just another grubby little scam that relies on our natural curiosity. These emails should go directly to the deleted item folder.

######This is not commercial email.######

A user is attempting to share experiences and opinions about you via our website.

The purpose of this email is to inform you that a posting has been made about you at our website. This is email is not commercial in nature.

If this email message was delivered to your spam or bulk email folder please notify your ISP or spam filtering company regarding this mistake on their part.

To view postings about you click here:

[LINK REMOVED]

Our Identity Protection System is a simple system in which this website sends email messages to the Experience Request author on your behalf, and vice versa. This website will never reveal the identity of the Experience Request author to you, nor will it reveal your identity to the author of the Experience Request.

The Experience Request author will receive your message in an email sent from our website. He/she can then respond to your message via our website by clicking a custom link that appears in the email.

Communication then continues back and forth via our Identity Protection System until one party or the other provides other contact means (phone number, etc.).

IMPORTANT - To add this email address to our Do Not Email List click here:

[LINK REMOVED]

Regards,

SYEC Support

SYEC Support Department


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Gmail Invites Available

Several weeks ago I finally received an invitation to start a Gmail account. Gmail is Google's web based email service.

Currently, you can only get a Gmail account via an official invitation. I believe this is Google's way of rolling out the new product in a controlled and sensible fashion. So far I'm very impressed. Gmail is great! For someone who has never been a fan of web-based email, that is high praise indeed!

Gmail has some quite innovative ways of handling web-based email. It is also very fast, and has a massive amount of storage space. Very powerful search facilities make it easy to find exactly what you want. I've transferred some of my ezine subscriptions over to my Gmail account. With a 1000mb of storage and excellent search capability I will be able to store 100's of issues of a newsletter and find the article I'm searching for very quickly.

Soon after you receive an invitation and activate you Gmail account, you will be given an opportunity to send invitations to others. As more people open accounts, invitations are becoming more readily available, often via online forums or email discussion groups.

I currently have a few Gmail invitations available. If you would like one, you can ask via the new "Google" forum of the Hoax-Slayer Forums (in the Gmail Invites thread).

You can also use the Google forum if you would like to discuss Google or Gmail in general.

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Feedback from Readers and Site Visitors

If you receive an email that you suspect is a hoax or scam, I'd appreciate it if you would send me a copy.

Please Note: The above email address is only for submitting examples. Due to the volume of email I receive, I cannot reply to every hoax or scam example submitted. If you would like to ask a scam or hoax related question, please use the Hoax-Slayer Forums.

A lot of site and email activity over the last week involved the William Hung death hoax that began circulating back in August.

An increased rate of submissions and website hits indicate that the old Nokia Giveaway hoax is again briskly circulating.

The HIV infected blood in the ketchup hoax that I discussed last week also appears to be gaining momentum.

As well, the Hoax-Slayer article about the Glade Plug-In fire hazard hoax has proven to be a popular destination for site visitors this week.

As usual, I have received many lottery, Nigerian and phisher scam.

Once again, thank-you for all of your examples and feedback.

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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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