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Issue 52 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 52: June, 2005

This month in Hoax-Slayer:
Dust-Off Warning Email

Sadly, the information outlined in the email forward below is true. On the 2nd March 2005, 14-year-old Kyle Williams of Painesville Township, Ohio died after inhaling Dust-Off. As outlined in the email, Dust-Off is a product that contains compressed air used for removing the dust from computers. Kyle's father, Jeff is indeed a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio.

Because Dust-Off and similar products contain a seemingly harmless product - compressed air - parents and children may not realize how dangerous inhaling them can be.

The company that manufactures Dust-Off has the following information on its website:

As a leading manufacturer of one of the world's most versatile aerosol products, Falcon recognizes that among the issues surrounding aerosol product distribution and usage is that of inhalant abuse or "huffing". It is imperative that consumers of aerosol products, parents and children all understand the seriousness of this practice.
Dust-Off cans also carry the following warning:
A cleaning duster is a serious product. Inhalant abuse is illegal and can cause permanent injury or be fatal. Please use our product responsibly.
Inhalant abuse, or "huffing", is a serious problem that has killed and maimed many children and young adults around the world. It is important that parents and guardians educate themselves and their children about inhalant abuse. The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition website is an excellent resource on the subject.

As a parent, my heart goes out to Kyle's grieving family. Perhaps we can help to prevent similar tragedies by taking steps to let others know about the dangers of inhalant abuse.


Subject: FW: : Dust Off - A deadly drug

Dust Off- A Serious Fatal Hazard
First IM going to tell you a little about me and my family. My name is Jeff. I am a Police Officer for a city which is known nationwide for its crime rate. We have a lot of gangs and drugs. At one point we were # 2 in the nation in homicides per capita. I also have a police K-9 named Thor . He was certified in drugs and general duty. He retired at 3 years old because he was shot in the line of duty. He lives with us now and I still train with him because he likes it. I always liked the fact that there was no way to bring drugs into my house. Thor wouldn't allow it. He would tell on you. The reason I say this is so you understand that I know about drugs. I have taught in schools about drugs. My wife asks all our kids at least once a week if they used any drugs. Makes them promise they won't.

I like building computers occasionally and started building a new one in February 2005. I also was working on some of my older computers. They were full of dust so on one of my trips to the computer store I bought a 3 pack of DUST OFF. Dust Off is a can of compressed air to blow dust off a computer. A few weeks later when I went to use them they were all used. I talked to my kids and my 2 sons both said they had used them on their computer and messing around with them. I yelled at them for wasting the 10 dollars I paid for them. On February 28 I went back to the computer store. They didn't have the 3 pack which I had bought on sale so I bought a single jumbo can of Dust Off. I went home and set it down beside my computer.

On March 1st I left for work at 10 PM. At 11 PM my wife went down and kissed Kyle goodnight. At 530 AM the next morning Kathy went downstairs to wake Kyle up for school, before she left for work. He was sitting up in bed with his legs crossed and his head leaning over. She called to him a few times to get up. He didn't move. He would sometimes tease her like this and pretend he fell back asleep. He was never easy to get up. She went in and shook his arm. He fell over. He was pale white and had the straw from the Dust Off can coming out of his mouth. He had the new can of Dust Off in his hands. Kyle was dead.

I am a police officer and I had never heard of this. My wife is a nurse and she had never heard of this. We later found out from the coroner, after the autopsy, that only the propellant from the can of Dust off was in his system. No other drugs. Kyle had died between midnight and 1 Am.

I found out that using Dust Off is being done mostly by kids ages 9 through 15. They even have a name for it. It's called dusting. A take off from the Dust Off name. It gives them a slight high for about 10 seconds. It makes them dizzy. A boy who lives down the street from us showed Kyle how to do this about a month before. Kyle showed his best friend. Told him it was cool and it couldn't hurt you. It's just compressed air. It can't hurt you. His best friend said no.

Kyle's death
Kyle was wrong. It's not just compresses air. It also contains a propellant. I think its R2. It's a refrigerant like what is used in your refrigerator. It is a heavy gas.-Heavier than air. When you inhale it, it fills your lungs and keeps the good air, with oxygen, out. That's why you feel dizzy, buzzed. It decreases the oxygen to your brain, to your heart. Kyle was right. It can't hurt you. IT KILLS YOU. The horrible part about this is there is no warning. There is no level that kills you. It's not cumulative or an overdose; it can just go randomly, terribly wrong. Roll the dice and if your number comes up you die. IT'S NOT AN OVERDOSE. It's Russian roulette. You don't die later. Or not feel good and say I've had too much. You usually die as your breathing it in. If not you die within 2 seconds of finishing "the hit." That's why the straw was still in Kyle's mouth when he died. Why his eyes were still open.

The experts want to call this huffing. The kids don't believe its huffing. As adults we tend to lump many things together. But it doesn't fit here. And that's why it's more accepted. There is no chemical reaction. no strong odor. It doesn't follow the huffing signals. Kyle complained a few days before he died of his tongue hurting. It probably did. The propellant causes frostbite. If I had only known.

It's easy to say hay, it's my life and I'll do what I want. But it isn't. Others are always affected. This has forever changed our family's life. I have a hole in my heart and soul that can never be fixed. The pain is so immense I can't describe it. There's nowhere to run from it. I cry all the time and I don't ever cry. I do what I'm supposed to do but I don't really care. My kids are messed up. One won't talk about it. The other will only sleep in our room at night. And my wife, I can't even describe how bad she is taking this. I thought we were safe because of Thor. I thought we were safe because we knew about drugs and talked to our kids about them.

After Kyle died another story came out. A Probation Officer went to the school system next to ours to speak with a student. While there he found a student using Dust Off in the bathroom. This student told him about another student who also had some in his locker. This is a rather affluent school system. They will tell you they don't have a drug problem there. They don't even have a dare or plus program there. So rather than tell everyone about this "new" way of getting high they found, they hid it. The probation officer told the media after Kyle's death and they, the school, then admitted to it. I know that if they would have told the media and I had heard, it wouldn't have been in my house.

We need to get this out of our homes and school computer labs.

Using Dust Off isn't new and some "professionals" do know about. It just isn't talked about much, except by the kids. They know about it.

April 2nd was 1 month since Kyle died. April 5th would have been his 15th birthday. And every weekday I catch myself sitting on the living room couch at 2:30 in the afternoon and waiting to see him get off the bus. I know Kyle is in heaven but I can't help but wonder If I died and went to Hell.


Premium Rate Phone Fraud Police Warning Hoax

Variations of the hoax email replicated below have been circulating since at least 2004. The email claims that victims are being duped into participating in premium rate phone calls that are charged at 20 per minute. It also claims that a mobile phone scam results in victims being charged 50 per minute.

The latest version pretends to be a "Warning from the Police" and includes a date for May 2005. It also claims that the police have verified the message as genuine.

In spite of these efforts by the hoaxsters to add credibility to the message, the claims in the email are untrue. The message does not originate from the police. The ICSTIS has debunked these claims on its website. Information on the ICSTIS website states that:
20.00 per minute and 50.00 per minute premium rate tariffs do not exist - the highest premium rate tariff available is 1.50 per minute. Despite the dozens of enquiries received by ICSTIS about these 'scams' (and most people appear to have heard about them second or third-hand), not one person who claims that it has actually happened to them has been able to produce a phone bill to support their story.
ICSTIS urges any individual or organisation that receives an e-mail about these 'scams' to delete it immediately. Please do NOT forward it to others.
The false information in the email about mobile phone "scams" has also circulated as a separate message. In the version above, the two "scams" have been combined.

These messages contain false information and should not be forwarded.

An example of the hoax message
Phone Fraud - Warning from the Police 11.5.05

We have been advised of a telephone fraud currently in operation -this applies to home and work telephones, landlines and mobiles.

If you receive one of these calls, upon answering the telephone you will hear a recorded message congratulating you on winning an all expenses trip to an exotic location. You will then be asked to press 9 to hear further details. If you press 9 you will be connected to a premium rate line that costs approximately 20 per minute.

Even if you disconnect immediately, it will remain connected for a minimum of 5 minutes costing around 100. The final part of the call involves you being asked to key in your postcode and house number, which has other serious consequences. After a further 2 minutes you will receive a message informing you that you are not one of the lucky winners.

The total bill by then will be 100.

Since the calls are originating from outside the UK, BT and other telephone companies are left relatively powerless to act. The only safe solution is to HANG UP before the message prompts you to dial 9, even safer HANG UP on any unsolicited 'free offer calls'.

There is another scam operating on mobile phones as well. A missed call comes up. The number is 0709 020 3840, the last four numbers may vary, but certainly the first four will remain the same. If you call this number back you will be charged 50 per minute.

People have complained about their phone bills, once they have realised the cost of the call, but apparently this is completely legal.

So beware, do not call back numbers beginning with '0709'.

The above was passed to me by a member of staff. On checking with Police it is genuine.


Mars, Earth - Closest Approach in Recorded History

Someone has recently resurrected and sent off the message below and it is once again being passed from inbox to inbox. Although the year is not specifically mentioned in the message, recipients may naturally assume that it is referring to the current year, 2005. The events outlined in the message were more or less true back in 2003 although they were a little hyped even then. According to NASA, on August 27, 2003, Earth and Mars were the closest they have been for around 60,000 years. Mars was indeed a spectacular site in the night sky during several months of 2003.

However, this fact is not quite as earth shattering as you might think. A 2003 NASA article on the subject explains that:
Much has been made of the fact that the August 27th encounter with Mars is the closest in some 60,000 years. Neanderthals were the last to observe Mars so favorably placed. This is true. It's also a bit of hype. Mars and Earth have been almost this close many times in recent history.
Mars will in fact pass close to Earth once again in 2005, although it will be at its closest on October 31st rather than August 27th. However, the red planet will not pass quite as close as it did in 2003. In 2003, Mars came within approximately 34 million miles of Earth. In late 2005 it will pass at about 43 million miles.

In reality, this distance gap will probably not make a great deal of difference to casual observers on the ground. Mars will still be a spectacular and compelling site in the night sky in late 2005 in spite of the fact that it will not be quite as close to Earth as it was in 2003. What's more, these close encounters are not such uncommon events.

Thus the claim that "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN!" is a little misleading. It is true that the next time Mars will be as close to earth as it was in 2003 will be on August 28, 2287. In the mean time however, there will be plenty of other close approaches, so our children and our children's children are not likely to miss out altogether.

Perhaps by 2287 some of our descendents will be observing the close encounter from the Martian perspective.

The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens again.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m. By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month.

Share this with your children and grandchildren.



Email Security Tip Forward Responsibly

Along with the junk mail that arrives in our inboxes, there may be quite a few gems that just beg to be forwarded. These may be jokes, funny photos or videos, useful information, interesting web links or just juicy bits of gossip. The "forward" function of our email program enables us to fire off these missives to one, a few, or all of the email addresses in our address book with just a few mouse clicks. As easy as pie!

In fact, email forwarding is almost too easy! While the ability to forward messages is a very valuable aid to effective email communication, the forward function should be used responsibly. Before you forward an email to multiple recipients, there are important factors that need to be considered:

Many users are simply not aware of the privacy and security issues connected to forwarding emails. You can take an active role in helping to protect user privacy and reducing spam by making others aware of these issues.


Dr John Holt Email Petition - Microwave Cancer Therapy Email

The case described in the email below is a real one. There has been a lot of controversy over many years regarding Perth based Dr John Holt's microwave therapy treatment for cancer sufferers. Many of his patients and advocates maintain that his treatment is effective and has saved a number of lives. Others in the medical and scientific community denounce the treatment.

The A Current Affair report mentioned in the email was shown in August 2004. As the program and other sources maintain, it appears that Dr Holt's cancer treatments deserve, at the very least, an unbiased and comprehensive examination. Thankfully, it appears that such a study is at last being conducted.

According to an article on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) website, an interim report on the case has now been provided to the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Tony Abbott MP and a more thorough audit is currently being conducted.

The article states that:

Following a meeting and ongoing consultations with Dr Holt, the Review Committee has commenced a comprehensive audit of the medical records of a number of Dr Holt's past and present patients. The patient audit will include a comparison of the effectiveness of Dr Holt's current and previous microwave (UHF radiowave) cancer therapies with conventional cancer therapies.
The final report is expected to be provided to the minister in mid 2005. In view of this fact, this email petition is now becoming somewhat outdated. The preparation of this report has been almost unforgivably slow and the email's call to pressure the Australian Government on the issue can certainly be justified. However, an email petition is probably not a good method of exerting this pressure. In my opinion, email petitions of this nature are almost totally ineffective. There are much more productive ways to help a cause you believe in than "signing" an email petition. For more about the intrinsic worth of email petitions see:

Are Email Petitions Useful?

Dr Holt's treatments are controversial and they have polarized the Australian medical community. The list of links below should provide more in-depth information about Dr Holt and his treatment for those who wish to explore this issue more thoroughly: