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Issue 49 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 49: March, 2005

This month 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.

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Plastics Cancer Link Email

I have briefly discussed some aspects of the email forward below in a previous issue of the newsletter. However, I regularly receive many emails that enquire about the veracity of the information it contains. Therefore, I feel the subject warrants a more thorough treatment.

An earlier variant of this hoax referred only to the freezing of plastic water bottles. This later version has added on spurious information about using plastics in microwave ovens as well. Both versions contain false and misleading information.

Rolf Halden of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has expertly debunked the rumour linking plastic bottles to cancer. According to Halden the claim is an urban legend. He explains that:
Freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don't think there are.
Experts also contradict the claim that using plastics in microwaves can cause dioxins to leech into the food. According to Edward Machuga, Ph.D, of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The FDA has seen no evidence that plastic containers or films contain dioxins and knows of no reason why they would. The general consensus is that using plastic containers or plastic wrap in microwaves is not dangerous, so long as microwave safe plastics are used and manufacturers guidelines are followed. The FDA article does admit that substances in plastics can leach into food. However, the FDA does not consider this to be a significant risk to humans. The FDA article maintains that:
The agency has assessed migration levels of substances added to regulated plastics and has found the levels to be well within the margin of safety based on information available to the agency.
The email also claims that Saran Wrap "drips poisonous toxins" into the food when used in a microwave. SC Johnson, the makers of Saran® plastic wrap 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.
I have labelled this email forward as false for the following reasons:
Therefore, in my opinion, the information in this email forward should not be taken seriously. The misinformation contained in the email clearly identifies it as just one more among the many bogus warnings that continually circulate around cyberspace.

However, while the claims in this email forward are demonstrably untrue, alarmist and highly misleading, it is important to keep in mind that not all plastics are necessarily safe to use in microwave ovens. As stated earlier in the article, plastics are considered by experts to be safe to use in microwave ovens so long as microwave safe plastics are used and manufacturers guidelines are followed. However, some plastic containers - such as those that hold meals from fast-food outlets, or cold food receptacles such as margarine tubs - may not be suitable for microwave use. The American Plastics Council has information and resources about safely using plastics in the microwave oven on its website.

This email is not the only chain letter that makes bogus claims about the dangers of plastic containers. Another email forward falsely claims that simply reusing plastic bottles can lead to the ingestion of cancer causing chemical agents. In fact, there are a number of myths and rumours associated with the use of plastics. For more information about plastic related myths, visit plasticsmythbuster.org.



Further information:

FW: Cancer News from John Hopkins

No plastics in micro

No water bottles in freezer.

No plastic wrap in micro

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in their newsletters worth noting... This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dioxin Carcinogens cause cancer, especially breast cancer. Don't freeze your plastic water bottles with water as this also releases dioxins 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 dioxins 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 fat, high heat and plastics releases dioxins into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Dioxins 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 dioxins.

So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, 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. It's 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 family & friends & those that are important in your life!




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Help Fight Scammers

Every week, I get a considerable number of email enquiries regarding various types of Internet scams. Unfortunately, quite a few of these are from desperate people who have already sent money to scammers and are seeking help to recover their lost funds. Sadly, there is virtually nothing that I can do to help victims except advise them to take their case to the police. In fact, even law enforcement authorities may be powerless to help victims.

Naturally, with regard to Internet scams, prevention is much better than any cure. And the key to prevention is simply education. As computer systems become cheaper, more and more people are getting online. Thousands of new computer users are joining the Internet every day and these people are especially vulnerable. As well, even experienced users may have dangerous gaps in their knowledge with regard to the ways of Internet scammers.

As computer users, perhaps we all have a certain responsibility to help fight Internet scammers. You can help by:

To that end, I have created a web page that features a brief overview of major types of Internet scams and includes links to more information. The article is intended as an introduction to the ways of Internet scammers for those that may not be aware of how they operate.

I am extending full reprint rights to this article. This means that you can freely copy the article and send it via email, include it on your website, blog, discussion group or newsletter, print copies of it to give to your friends or include it in paper publications.

Alternatively, you can simply provide a link to the article.

Don't underestimate the power of personal communication as a method of disseminating information. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! I'm very pleased to say that along with the sadder stories from victims, I also receive quite a few "thank-you" emails from people who have narrowly avoided becoming scam victims because of information they found on the Hoax-Slayer website.

View the article and access details about how to use the information


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eBay Phisher Scam Emails

The message below is typical examples of an almost continual barrage of phisher scams that target online auction site, eBay.

The links in the scam emails leads to a fake website that closely resembles the real eBay login screen. Those who do "login" to the fake site are presented with a form that asks for sensitive personal information including address data and ATM card details. The screenshots below display parts of one of these fraudulent forms. Unlike a real eBay form, the page is not a secure site. The Internet criminals running the scam will collect any information entered into these fake forms.

Fake eBay Form Part One

Fake eBay Form Part Two

More information about these fraudulent activities is available on the eBay website.

Phisher scammers target many financial institutions and online entities almost continually. At any one time, there may be a number of different scam email versions all directed at a particular bank or online company. Be wary of any email that asks you to provide sensitive personal information such as banking details. Most legitimate companies would not request such information from customers via email. To find out more about phisher scams and access more examples, click the link below.
Phisher Scams

Your credit/debit card information must be updated
Dear eBay Member,
We recently noticed one or more attempts to log in to your eBay account from a foreign IP address and we have reasons to believe that your account was used by a third party without your authorization. If you recently accessed your account while traveling, the unusual login attempts may have been initiated by you
The login attempt was made from:
IP address: *******
ISP Host: *********

By now, we used many techniques to verify the accuracy of the information our users provide us when they register on the Site. However, because user verification on the Internet is difficult, eBay cannot and does not confirm each user's purported identity. Thus, we have established an offline verification system o help you evaluate with who you are dealing with.

click on the link below, fill the form and then submit as we will verify

LINK REMOVED

Please save this fraud alert ID for your reference

Please Note - If you choose to ignore our request, you leave us no choice but to temporally suspend your account.

* Please do not respond to this e-mail as your reply will not be received.

Respectfully,
Trust and Safety Department
eBay Inc.


The above message arrives in HTML format as shown in the screenshot below:

HTML Scam message


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Slow Dance Charity Hoax

The email forward included below is just one more in a long line of silly hoaxes which claim that an email is being tracked in some way and that money will be donated every time a message is forwarded. Such claims are simply absurd. No legitimate company or organization would agree to donate money based on how many times a particular email is forwarded. Furthermore, there is no reliable, or ethical, method of tracking the journey of one particular email that may ultimately be forwarded thousands of times. Any message that attempts to convince recipients that a charitable campaign relies on the random forwarding of an email is almost certainly a hoax.

"Slow Dance", the poem tacked onto the top of the email, was not written by "a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital". In fact, the piece was penned by David L. Weatherford, poet and child psychologist. "Slow Dance" can be viewed on the poet's website.

The American Cancer Society has denied any involvement and has the following disclaimer on its website:
The email is thought to be a revised version of an email that has been around in some form or another since at least 1997. The American Cancer Society is in no way involved in this effort, and never lends its name to chain emails. We certainly do understand the good intentions of those who respond to the email, and hope people who do want to help will find legitimate ways to assist the millions of cancer patients who rely on reputable organizations to improve the daily lives of cancer survivors, and reduce the suffering caused by cancer.
Furthermore, the email was not sent by Dr. Dennis Sheilds as claimed. Although Dr. Dennis Sheilds is a real person, and a faculty member at the Albert Einstein College Of Medicine, it appears that his name was added to the message without his permission. A page on the AECOM website states that:
Dr. Dennis Sheilds is a faculty member at AECOM and he does have an e-mail address. However, information received from earlier complaints show that his name was signed to the message but it was not sent from his e-mail address. This suggests that this message is a forgery.
The hoax appears to have evolved out of an earlier hoax that named the dying child as Jessica Mydek (See example below). According to the ACS, The story of Jessica Mydek has never been substantiated. The American Cancer Society does not endorse fundraising efforts using chain letters of any kind.

This email and others like it should be deleted rather than forwarded.

Subject: FW: Slow Dance

This poem was written by a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital.

It was sent by a medical doctor - Make sure to read what is in the closing statement AFTER THE POEM.

SLOW DANCE

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,"Hi"
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.

The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift.....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower

Hear the music

Before the song is over.

--------------------

FORWARDED E-MAILS ARE TRACKED TO OBTAIN THE TOTAL COUNT.

Dear All:

PLEASE pass this mail on to everyone you know - even to those you don't know!

It is the request of a special girl who will soon leave this world due to cancer. This young girl has 6 months left to live, and as her dying wish, She wanted to send a letter telling everyone to live their life to the fullest, since she never will.

She'll never make it to prom, graduate from high school, or get married and have a family of her own. By you sending this to as many people as possible, you can give her and her family a little hope, because with every name that this is sent to, The American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents per name to her treatment and recovery plan.

One guy sent this to 500 people! So I know that we can at least send it to 5 or 6 ---
It's not even your money, just your time!

PLEASE PASS ON AS A LAST REQUEST

Dr. Dennis Shields, Professor
Department of Developmental and Molecular Biology
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, New York 10461


Earlier Version:
LITTLE JESSICA MYDEK IS SEVEN YEARS OLD AND IS SUFFERING FROM AN ACUTE AND VERY RARE CASE OF CEREBRAL CARCINOMA. THIS CONDITION CAUSES SEVERE MALIGNANT BRAIN TUMORS AND IS A TERMINAL ILLNESS. THE DOCTORS HAVE GIVEN HER SIX MONTHS TO LIVE.
AS PART OF HER DYING WISH, SHE WANTED TO START A CHAIN LETTER TO INFORM PEOPLE OF THIS CONDITION AND TO SEND PEOPLE THE MESSAGE TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND ENJOY EVERY MOMENT, A CHANCE THAT SHE WILL NEVER HAVE. FURTHERMORE, THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY AND SEVERAL CORPORATE SPONSORS HAVE AGREED TO DONATE THREE CENTS TOWARD CONTINUING CANCER RESEARCH FOR EVERY NEW PERSON THAT GETS FORWARDED THIS MESSAGE. PLEASE GIVE JESSICA AND ALL CANCER VICTIMS A CHANCE. IF THERE ARE ANY QUESTIONS, SEND THEM TO THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY AT ACS@AOL.COM




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Alphabetical List of Lottery Scam Examples

As noted earlier in the newsletter, a great number of people fall victim to lottery scammers every day. In order to thwart the scammers in some small way, I have recently constructed a web page that consists of an alphabetical list of lottery scam examples. This list contains links to examples of lottery scam emails that I have collected either via submissions from site visitors or directly from lottery scammers. New examples are added as soon as possible after I receive them. The search engines index these web pages quite quickly, so people seeking information about a new lottery scam email they have received may hopefully come across a pertinent example *before* they become victims.

However, it is important to understand that this is by no means a comprehensive list. The examples listed represent only a small portion of the thousands of variations that are being or have been distributed. Lottery scammers are continually creating new names for their bogus lotteries. As well, they may use variations of existing names or combine previously used names in many different ways.

Many lottery scam emails are very similar except for the name of the bogus lottery and various details such as place names, dates and contact details. Often, whole paragraphs are repeated in lottery emails that have completely different names and details. This strong similarity is one way of quickly identifying a lottery email as a scam.

If you receive a lottery email that is not listed but proves to be very similar in format, style and phrasing to one or more of the included examples, then it is highly probable that the email is a scam.

The list is still being populated and I have many more examples to add. You can help by submitting lottery scam examples via the contact form.

View the lottery scam list

More information about lottery scams in general

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Krista Marie Brain Cancer Hoax

The baby in the photograph is not named Natalie, nor is she dying of brain cancer. The baby's name is Megan Olivia Cronce who was born in 1996. The perpetrator of this hoax apparently stole her picture from a baby photos website and attached it to the spurious message. The hoax has been circulating since 2002.

This hoax is just one in a whole series of emails that make the absurd claim that a given company will donate money every time a message is sent onward. No legitimate company, including AOL, would consider organizing or supporting a charitable campaign that was based on how often a particular email is forwarded. In any case, there is simply no feasible way to keep track of how many times an individual email is forwarded. Any email that tries to convince recipients that a donation, prize, or other benefit is somehow contingent upon how many times the message is forwarded is almost certainly a hoax.

Another similar, and equally ridiculous, hoax urges recipients to click the forward button to help fictitious ten-year-old Rachel Arlington, who is also purportedly dying of brain cancer. Again, AOL is the company supposedly "tracking" the message and donating accordingly.

Nonsensical emails such as these should be relegated directly to the trash where they belong. Forwarding them achieves nothing except perhaps for the highly undesirable goal of boosting the twisted ego of the imbecile who started the hoax to begin with. Anybody who believes that creating a hoax about a dying child is funny or fulfilling in some way obviously has serious psychological problems.



Dear: All,

Hello, My name is Krista Marie and I have a newborn baby named Nathalie. She means the world to me, and just recently, the doctors have discovered that my little Nathalie has "Brain Cancer."

Unfortunately my husband and I don't have the money to pay for the bill. But my husband and I have worked out a deal with AOL and they have agreed to give us 5 cents to each person that received this e-mail.

So please, forward this to everyone you know, and help out my little Nathalie and I.

Thank you.
Yours Sincere :
Krista Marie

*This is NOT a joke e-mail, this is regarding to save a new life. Please dtake this message seriously. Thank you!


A version that arrives as an image file:

Krista Marie Hoax Image




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Life is Beautiful Hoax Returns

A greatly increased rate of submissions suggests that the old Life is Beautiful virus hoax email has been revitalized and is once again duping unwary email recipients around the planet. The hoax warns that an MS Power Point presentation carried by an apparently innocent email is actually a destructive virus that will cause victims to "lose everything in your PC". There is not, nor has there ever been, a virus like the one described in this hoax email.

There are a number of versions of the hoax, some of which are in Portuguese, French, Italian and German.

Forwarding false virus warnings such as this one is a waste of bandwidth and can be counter-productive. The dissemination of fake virus warnings can result in recipients ignoring or overlooking legitimate warnings. In some cases, such as the Teddy Bear Virus Hoax, fake warnings can trick people into deleting legitimate files from their computers.

If you receive a virus warning via email, always check the veracity of the warning on an anti-virus or anti-hoax website before forwarding the email or acting upon any instructions the email may contain.

Symantec Article

Please Be Extremely Careful especially if using internet mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and so on. This information arrived this morning from Microsoft and Norton. Please send it to everybody you know who accesses the Internet. You may receive an apparently harmless email with a Power Point presentation "Life is beautiful.pps".
v If you receive it DO NOT OPEN THE FILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, and delete it immediately. if you open this file, a message will appear on your screen saying: "It is too late now, your life ! is no longer beautiful",subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC and the person who sent it to you gain access to your name, e-mail and password. This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon. WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO STOP THIS VIRUS. AOL has already confirmed the severity,and the antivirus Software's are not capable of destroying it. The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself "life owner". PLEASE MAKE A COPY OF THIS EMAIL TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS and PASS IT ON IMMEDIATELY


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Guest Article: The 4 Ws of Junk E-mail

The 4 Ws of Junk E-mail
By Niall Roche

Junk e-mail or spam has become the scourge of the modern computer world. It eats bandwidth. Spam is like a disease. It doesn't care about age, religion, wealth. It doesn't discriminate. Junk e-mail affects us all.

There are 4 keys to the junk mail question – Who, What, Where and Why.

Who they are

The typical profile of a junk mail sender is as follows. Male, 18 – 30 years of age, single, technically competent and with little regard for their status as a public nuisance. There are female junk mailers out there but, unfortunately, this is predominantly a male preserve.

What they use to send spam

There are many tools available to the spam merchant. The main ones are e-mail extractors, newsgroup harvesters and CD lists.

E-mail extractors are programs which wander around the Internet gathering e-mail addresses from websites and often from web based forums (unprotected forums). A "good" e-mail extractor can gather 15,000 e-mail addresses per hour.

Newsgroup harvesters are programs which search through newsgroups for valid e-mail addresses. Most newsgroups users are aware of this and take measures to counteract these harvesting programs. Despite these measures a newsgroup harvester application can gather 20,000 – 30,000 e-mail addresses in an hour.

CD lists are one of the worst sources. 90 million e-mail addresses available on a single CD for as little as $20. A lot of the addresses on these CDs would be junk (many would no longer exist) but an equally large number of these addresses would be valid. A CD like this is a junk mailers dream.

Where they do it from

Those involved in sending out bulk e-mail are "entrepreneurs" or at least they think so. The vast majority of those involved in the spam business are self-employed and work from home. Sending spam is almost the ideal home based business. You name your hours and the business itself is almost automatic. Maximum gain from minimum effort.

Why they do it in the first place

Their motivation is money. Considerable amounts of cash actually. Each spammer who sends out 1,000,000 junk e-mails is certain of approximately 100 sales. Many of the products they sell are worth $50 - $100 dollars to them in commission. Yes. Shocking isn't it? The average bulk mailer earns in excess of $100,000 per year! Maximum return for minimum effort. Unless of course you get caught and get jail time.

Niall Roche is the content author and owner of http://www.spam-site.com which reviews and tests spam filters for the business and end user.

Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/

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Hoax-Slayer Humour: NEW WORDS AND DEFINITIONS 2005

From a forwarded email:

Here are a few new plays on words, some of them absolutely brilliant, for all you lovers of the English language.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:

Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financiall y impotent for an indefinite period.

Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come very quickly.

Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

Beel zebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.



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