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Issue 60 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 60: March, 2006

This month in Hoax-Slayer:
Read Previous Issues


Concerned about computer security? Read my review of The Hacker's Nightmare™ an outstanding computer security eBook.

Formosan Termites in Mulch Warning

The email forward included below warns recipients to be wary of buying cheap garden mulch because it could have been made from debris left over from Hurricanes Katrina and might therefore be contaminated with Formosan termites. The message implies that the widespread distribution of the infested mulch is spreading Formosan termites to areas of the United States that were previously free of the pests.

It is true that Formosan subterranean termites can be found in the New Orleans region of the United States. It is also true that the termites can get into cellulose debris such as that resulting from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita and that such debris could possibly be turned into garden mulch.

However, it is untrue that mulch contaminated with Formosan Termites is being sold or widely distributed across the United States. In October 2005 the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) imposed a quarantine on the Formosan subterranean termite, which prohibited the movement of untreated wood or cellulose material from the parishes affected by the hurricanes.

According to information published on the LSU AgCenter website, one of the provisions of the LDAF quarantine sates that:
"Movement of wood or cellulose material is prohibited unless either (1) it is fumigated or treated for Formosan subterranean termites and is approved for movement by the commissioner or his designee(s) or (2) written authorization is given by the commissioner or his designee(s) for the movement of untreated wood or cellulose material from the quarantined parishes.
Thus the claim in the email that Louisiana "is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away" is clearly nonsense. The State is quite unlikely to blatantly violate its own quarantine by distributing untreated mulch material. .

Moreover, the LDAF has issued the following press release debunking the rumor:
Mulch Rumors Untrue

March 3, 2006

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

That is the message Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom is stressing to the public as an email rumor about Formosan termite-infested mulch is circling the globe.

The email warns consumers not to purchase “cheap” wood mulch at major home improvement chains because it may be infested with Formosan termites.

"The email is not accurate and doesn’t even mention the quarantines this department put in place last fall to keep Formosan termites from spreading," Odom said. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry issued quarantines following the hurricanes for woody debris in Cameron, Calcasieu, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. Woody debris cannot be moved out of these areas without first submitting a plan for treatment to the department.

"I’ve had my people out looking into these claims to make sure there are no violations of the quarantine. I’ve also had our invasive pest expert contact the stores mentioned in the email and we’ve yet to find any validity to the claims in the email," Odom said.

"In my opinion, someone is using the Internet to cause hysteria about a problem that doesn’t really exist. If there are people out there who know about someone violating the quarantines, then they need to report it to us. We’ll shut the culprits down real quick but it has to be reported," Odom said. "I think the quarantines are doing the job, though. We’ve worked with the debris contractors, the Corps of Engineers and FEMA to handle the debris and quarantines."

An official with the LSU AgCenter’s Cooperative Extension Service said their offices have been receiving calls non-stop about information contained in the emails.

"Our termite specialists are getting inundated with calls and e-mails," said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. "We have posted new information on our Web site. We hope people will continue to use this as a resource for accurate information."

To report a quarantine violation, call (225) 925-3763. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Web site, www.ldaf.state.la.us, and the LSU AgCenter’s Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com, contain information about the quarantines, Formosan termites and debris disposal.

Formosan termites represent a significant threat that is taken very seriously by relevant authorities in the United States. The Formosan termite is a voracious pest and every effort is being made to curb its spread, including the aforementioned LDAF quarantine and other guidelines relating to hurricane debris. Thus, while it might be possible that minor violations of the quarantine have occurred, it seems extremely unlikely that termite-infested material from the affected areas is being distributed in large quantities and sold in reputable outlets across the United States.

Therefore, the claims in this "warning" can be considered groundless and the message should not be forwarded.



References:
Efforts under way to prevent spread of Formosan subterranean termites
LDAF press release: Mulch Rumors Untrue
Quarantine on wood, cellulose material after hurricanes Katrina and Rita
LSU AgCenter Formosan Subterranean Termites Portal
Keep Formosan Subterranean Termites From Spreading After Hurricanes (.pdf file)
The Formosan Termite A Formidable Foe!
Formosan Subterranean Termite (UF/IFAS)

An example of the "warning" email:
Subject: Mulch Warning

If you use mulch around your house be very careful about buying mulch this year. After the Hurricane in New Orleans many trees were blown over. These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away. So it will be showing up in Home Depot and Lowes at dirt cheap prices with one huge problem; Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many of those bags. New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country were the Formosan Termite has gotten a strong hold and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested with those termites. Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites can eat a house in no time at all and we have no good control against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid cheap mulch and know were it came from.


[TOP]



Jury Duty Phone Scam Warning

Around August 2005 an email message began circulating that warned recipients about an identity theft scam involving jury duty. Some time later, a differently worded version of the warning also began circulating. The information contained in both messages is factual.

According to these email forwards, a scammer posing as a court official may telephone a potential victim claiming that he or she failed to appear for jury duty and that an arrest warrant has been issued. The scammer then attempts to trick the victim into revealing sensitive personal information such as a Social Security number, date of birth and other personal details. If the victim is coerced into revealing enough personal information, the scammer can then steal the person's identity.

Both the FBI and the U.S. Courts issued warnings about the scam in 2005. A US Courts News Release from August 2005 confirms the information included in the messages:

In various parts of the United States, citizens are being targeted by phone calls and threatened with prosecution for failing to comply with jury service in federal or state courts.

In the calls, the threat of a fine for shirking jury service is used to coerce those called into providing confidential data, potentially leading to identity theft and fraud. These calls are not from real court officials.

Federal courts do not require anyone to provide any sensitive information in a telephone call. Most contact between a federal court and a prospective juror will be through the U.S. Mail, and any phone contact by real court officials will not include requests for social security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information.
An FBI Press Release from September 2005 also warns US citizens about the scam.

In this scam, the fraudster attempts to capitalize on a potential victim's natural desire to protect him or herself from a wrongful conviction. Also, average law-abiding citizens are perhaps a little more willing to comply with requests from someone they perceive as a government or legal official.

Identity theft related telephone scams are not new nor are they confined to the Jury Duty ploy described above. In a similar telephone scam, fraudsters attempt to obtain CVV2/CVC2 security numbers by phoning credit card holders and posing as security staff. In fact scammers have used a variety of tactics in order to trick people into revealing sensitive personal information in response to unsolicited phone calls.

Be wary of any unsolicited phone call in which the caller requests sensitive personal information. It is highly unlikely that any government organization or legitimate company will request information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or banking details via an unsolicited telephone call.

An effective strategy for dealing with a suspicious telephone call is to:
  1. Ask for the caller's name and department details and then terminate the call.

  2. Find a legitimate contact number for the organization via a telephone directory or other means. (Don't use a contact number provided by the caller).

  3. Call the organization and ask to speak to the original caller by name.

If the call was a scam, this tactic should prevent the fraudster from stealing your personal information. If the call turns out to be legitimate, you will still have the opportunity to deal with the issue as required.

References:
WARNING: Bogus Phone Calls on Jury Service May Lead to Fraud
FBI: TELEPHONE FRAUD INVOLVING JURY DUTY
Visa & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam
Daily Press: Jury duty telephone scam catches victims off guard
WNDU-TV: Jury duty scam

Examples of the email messages:
Jury Duty Scam

Here's a new twist scammers are using to commit identity theft: the jury duty scam. Here's how it works:

The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you've failed to report for jury duty. He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.

The victim will often rightly claim they never received the jury duty notification. The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for "verification" purposes.

Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim's Social Security number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information -- exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.

So far, this jury duty scam has been reported in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.

It's easy to see why this works. The victim is clearly caught off guard, and is understandably upset at the prospect of a warrant being issued for his or her arrest. So, the victim is much less likely to be vigilant about protecting their confidential information.

In reality, court workers will never call you to ask for social security numbers and other private information. In fact, most courts follow up via snail mail and rarely, if ever, call prospective jurors.

Action: Never give out your Social Security number, credit card numbers or other personal confidential information when you receive a telephone call. This jury duty scam is the latest in a series of identity theft scams where scammers use the phone to try to get people to reveal their Social Security number, credit card numbers or other personal confidential information.

It doesn't matter *why* they are calling -- all the reasons are just different variants of the same scam.

Protecting yourself is simple: Never give this info out when you receive a phone call

Share this information with a Friend.


JURY DUTY SCAM

Please pass this on to everyone in your email address book. It is spreading fast so be prepared should you get this call.

Most of us take those summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty, that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced. Fall for it and your identity could be stolen, reports CBS.

In this con, someone calls pretending to be a court official who threateningly says a warrant has been issued for your arrest because you didn't show up for jury duty. The caller claims to be a jury coordinator.

If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Sometimes they even ask for credit card numbers. Give out any of this information and bingo! Your identity just got stolen.

The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.


[TOP]



Black and White Twin Sisters

In early March 2006 an email complete with photographs of adorable twin girls - one black skinned and one white - began circulating. The message states that the twins are the children of a mixed race British couple and claims the chances of such a birth are "about a million to one".

The information in the email is true and the photographs are genuine. The photographs depict fair-skinned Remee and dark-skinned Kian who were born in April 2005. The fraternal twins were born to parents Kylie Hodgson and Remi Horder from Nottingham, England. Both Kylie and Remi are of mixed race, with black fathers and white mothers.

Although exceedingly rare, such births are not unprecedented. An article about the twins in the Daily Mail explains that:

If a woman is of mixed race, her eggs will usually contain a mixture of genes coding for both black and white skin.

Similarly, a man of mixed race will have a variety of different genes in his sperm. When these eggs and sperm come together, they will create a baby of mixed race. But, very occasionally, the egg or sperm might contain genes coding for one skin colour. If both the egg and sperm contain all white genes, the baby will be white. And if both contain just the versions necessary for black skin, the baby will be black.

For a mixed-race couple, the odds of either of these scenarios is around 100 to one. But both scenarios can occur at the same time if the woman conceives non-identical twins, another 100 to one chance.

This involves two eggs being fertilised by two sperm at the same time, which also has odds of around 100 to one.

If a sperm containing all-white genes fuses with a similar egg and a sperm coding for purely black skin fuses with a similar egg, two babies of dramatically different colours will be born.

The odds of this happening are 100 x 100 x 100 - a million to one.
References:
Meet my twin sister
Daily Mail: Black and White Twins

An example of the email:
A double take in beautiful black & white.

A mixed-race British mom gave birth to twins recently - one of each. Not a boy and a girl. Two girls - one black, the other white. The odds of such a birth are about a million to one, experts said. It was a shock when I realized that my twins were two different colors," Kylie Hodgson, 19, told London's Daily Mail. "But it doesn't matter to us - they are just our two gorgeous little girls."

Story from: Meet my twin sister

Black and White Twins

Black and White Twins

Black and White Twins
Photographs by Gary Roberts ©



[TOP]



Software Review: Spyware Doctor

Over the last few years, spyware has become steadily more insidious. Spyware can clandestinely collect data from your computer. It can record keyboard input, including sensitive information such as credit card numbers and banking details. It can deliver intrusive pop-up advertisements and hijack your browser's home page. It can record what web sites you visit, track your journey from one site to another and log your web search activities. And, of course, it can send any of this harvested information back to unknown third parties who can then use it for underhand marketing purposes, or outright fraud.

Spyware can also seriously impede the smooth operation of your computer. Spyware infections can lead to a sluggish and unstable system that regularly crashes or freezes.

Often, spyware is included in freeware or shareware programs. When you install these programs, the spyware is installed without your knowledge. Users are also tricked into downloading spyware directly by clicking on deceptive links or browser pop-up buttons. Some spyware installs automatically by exploiting browser vulnerabilities.

Spyware is now one of the most serious threats to computer security and efficiency. In fact, maintaining a spyware free computer is virtually essential to the secure and efficient operation of your system.

Because spyware components can hook themselves so deeply into your computer system, manually removing them can be exceedingly time consuming and difficult even for expert users. Spyware can add entries into the Windows Registry and distribute many different files throughout your hard drive. Even if you subsequently uninstall a program that included spyware, the malicious components can be left behind and remain active on your system.

Thankfully, there are programs available that are specifically designed to remove spyware and protect your system from infection. I have tried out a number of these programs over the last few years, but by far the best I have used is Spyware Doctor from PC Tools. I have now been using Spyware Doctor to protect my system for several months, and I am exceptionally pleased with its performance.

I have Spyware Doctor configured to automatically download updates and scan the entire computer for spyware every evening. Spyware Doctor also immunizes my computer against a large number of known infections. As well, Spyware Doctor constantly protects my computer in real time from spyware processes, tracking cookies, malicious ActiveX objects and browser hijackers. These three levels of functionality offer thorough protection and real peace of mind.

Spyware Doctor is very easy to use and configure, even for novice computer users. Once configured as desired, this software runs quietly in the background, comprehensively protecting your system from malicious spyware.

The software has won a number of awards, including PC Magazine's Best Anti-Spyware of the year for 2005. I thoroughly recommend Spyware Doctor and I am proud to be a PC Tools affiliate.

Purchase Spyware Doctor

Read more information about Spyware Doctor



[TOP]



Will Ferrell is Not Dead

In mid March 2006, a press release that claimed popular actor Will Ferrell was killed in a paragliding accident began rapidly circulating around the Internet. The release stated that Ferrell and a companion, Horacio Gomez, were killed in Southern California after a "freak wind gush" caused the glider to lose control and crash into trees.

However, the claims in the press release are entirely untrue. Will Ferrell is alive and well and was not involved in a paragliding accident.

The report, full of grammatical errors and inaccuracies, was originally submitted to press release distribution website i-newswire.com, apparently because an iNewswire editor believed the story to be true. According to an article on E! Online:
"The editor thought it sounded like a real press release," said Eric Borgos, president of Impulse Communications, the parent company of iNewswire. "Maybe the person didn't know who Will Ferrell was, which didn't help."
The fake release was removed from the iNewswire site within hours of being published, but not before the story "escaped" into Cyberspace and began travelling around the Internet.

E! Online notes that:
iNewswire tried, but failed to find the source of the bogus Ferrell story. The trickster, a non-paying customer, used a proxy server--the ISP address can't be traced, Borgos explained. All that's known about the anonymous user is that he or she tried, but failed to post about 10-15 other press releases on the site Tuesday, he said, including one that clarified that "Will Ferrell is not really dead."
To reiterate, Will Ferrell is very much alive and the claims in the report are completely untrue. At the time this false story began circulating, Will Ferrell was working on a new movie in Montreal.

References:
i-newswire.com
E! Online: Will Ferrell Still Kicking
Rumors Swirl Over Will Ferrell's Death
Ferrell: 'I'm Not Dead!'
Will Ferrell - Fact Sheet - E! Online

A copy of the fake press release:
Los Angeles -- Actor Will Ferrell accidentally died in a freak para-gliding accident yesterday in Torey Pines, Southern California. The accident apparently happened somewhere near the famed paragliding site after a freak wind gush basically blew Ferrell and his companion towards a wooded area where they lost control before crashing into the dense foilage.

Ferrell and his professional guide, Horacio Gomez of Airtek Paragliding Center attempted the jump at around 2 in the afternoon. According to witnesses, the conditions were basically ideal for para-gliding and the weather did'nt pose a problem at all.

The jump started normally as Ferrell and Gomez glided carefully across the vast area and were seemed headed into the righ direction just before what witnesses said a freak wind somehow blew them off course, causing the paragliding professional Gomez to somehow lose control.

As horrified witnesses looked on, the duo headed straight for the dense woods near the jump off point and crashed at an estimated 60 mph hitting the trees as they hurtled to the ground.

Some friends of the actor who witnessed the accident immediately called up 911. The paramedics vainly attempted to revive the two on their way to the nearby UCSD Thornton Hospital in nearby La Jolla.

The duo suffered major injuries to the head and broken bones that caused the death of the two.

In an interview with Will's parents who was John W. Ferrell in real life, Mary and Hubert Ferrell said their sonn died while doing one of the things he loved the most.

Will was a graduate of the University of California where he finished his Sports Information Degree. Will was born on July 16, 1968. He was 36.


[TOP]



Discussion - Why do People Create Email Hoaxes?

At any one time, there is likely to be many thousands of completely bogus hoax messages travelling via email. Some are new creations. Others have been circulating in various forms for years.

I am often asked why people create such hoaxes in the first place. This is an interesting question that probably has no definitive answer. For example, what could possibly motivate somebody to write and distribute a fictional message about a dying child? Why would someone author a bogus warning about a non-existent computer virus or falsely claim that a well-known company was giving away money or products?

Unlike a scammer, whose efforts may be rewarded in the form of stolen funds or stolen identities, a hoax writer does not stand to reap such a tangible reward. The motives of a scammer are not hard to ascertain. Hoaxsters, on the other hand, have motives that are less transparent.

Perhaps people most commonly start hoax emails simply to see how far, and for how long, their nonsensical messages will spread. If they create a hoax that regularly has recipients clicking on the "Forward" button, they may feel "successful" by their own twisted standards. By pulling the wool over the eyes of a substantial number of Internet users, these pranksters may feel that they have "made their mark" on society. Perhaps it is something akin to vandalism out in the "real" world. Perhaps there are similar underlying motives that drive those who create hoaxes and those who spray graffiti or slash train seats? Such vandalism may seem completely pointless to the rest of us, but the vandals must gain some intrinsic value out of it - a venting of anger against a society they resent - a sense of power - just a cheap thrill, perhaps.

In some cases, a newly created hoax message might spread a lot further than the author originally intended. Some hoaxes start out as just a practical joke aimed squarely at a select group of friends. But the friends send it to their friends and, in short order, the message has irretrievably escaped into the wilds of Cyberspace. Some time back, a widely distributed hoax message about a group of Cambodian midgets fighting a lion started in exactly this way.

In other cases a hoax email might be originally sent out simply because the author misinterpreted something and genuinely felt compelled to let others know about it. For example, the infamous "Bonsai Kittens" website appears to have prompted one outraged visitor to create and send out an email petition calling for authorities to close down the site. However, the creator of the email petition apparently did not realize that the site was just a joke. In spite of the fact that nobody is really making Bonsai Kittens, this misguided petition continues to circulate and collect email addresses years after it was first launched.

Hoaxes might also be started solely for the purpose of discrediting a company or individual. For example, some virus hoaxes, such as the Elf Bowling hoax name a particular software program and may have been started simply because the author had some unnamed grievance and was seeking revenge.

Some have postulated that spammers deliberately create hoax emails as a way of subsequently collecting email addresses. Certainly, messages that get forwarded many times can accumulate a great many email addresses and spammers may well harvest these addresses for use on spam lists. However, generally speaking, I'm not convinced that spammers are the ones who actually create these hoaxes in the first place. For such an exercise to be successful (from the spammer's point of view), he or she would have to set up a mechanism by which the hoax messages were eventually returned after they had accumulated a large number of email addresses. Typically, email hoaxes do not have any such mechanism. If they did, it would perhaps make it possible to identify the original author.

As I said earlier, it is probably quite difficult to pinpoint one definitive reason why some individuals in the Internet community decide to create and distribute email hoaxes. Given the sometimes unfathomable complexity of human psychology, there is likely to be quite a number of reasons why people author email hoaxes and I've only touched on a few possible motives here.

What thoughts do you have on this issue? You might like to join the discussion on the subject at the Hoax-Slayer Forums. Your input will be most welcome!

[TOP]

Lottery Scams Continue

During 2005, one of the most popular subjects of enquiries from Hoax-Slayer visitors concerned lottery scam messages, and this looks set to continue in 2006. I've discussed lottery scams in the newsletter before. However, given that a great many people in different parts of the world continue to fall victim to this sort of scam, I thought it timely to review the subject. I have included an example of a typical lottery scam message at the end of the article.

The opening gambit in a typical lottery scam is likely to be an unsolicited email, fax or letter, which states that you have won a major prize in an international lottery. Supposedly, your email address was collected online and attached to a random number that was subsequently entered in a draw for the lottery. In order to claim your prize, you are instructed to contact the official "agent" in charge of your case. You are also advised to keep the win confidential for "security reasons". This part of the scam is basically a random phishing expedition. If you respond in any way to the email, the scammers will send further messages or even contact you by phone in an attempt to draw you deeper into the scam.

You may be asked to provide banking details, a large amount of personal information, and copies of your driver's licence and passport. Ostensibly, these requests are to prove your identity and facilitate the transfer of your winnings. However, if you comply with these requests, the scammers may well have enough information to steal your identity.

Sooner or later, the scammers will request some sort of advance fee supposedly to cover administration, legal or delivery costs. At its core, this scam is just a reworking of the Nigerian loan fraud, in which scammers also eventually ask for upfront fees to facilitate the "deal". Like Nigerian scams, victims who do actually pay the requested fees will probably find that they receive continuing payment demands to cover "unexpected expenses". The requests for money will go on until the victim realizes what is happening or has no further money to send.

In some cases, the scammers give victims the option of opening an account at a particular bank as an alternative to paying upfront fees. However, this "bank" which is completely bogus, will insist on an initial deposit of several thousand dollars as a requirement for opening the account. The fake bank will have a legitimate looking website to reinforce the scam. In other cases, the victim is given the option of travelling to an overseas destination and paying a cash fee to facilitate the release of the funds. However, any "winnings" released to the victim will be counterfeit and therefore worthless.

The details of the lottery scams vary regularly with regard to the name of the lottery itself, the country of origin, the sponsoring organization, the amount of the "prize" and other particulars. The scammers try to add a patina of legitimacy to their claims by mentioning real financial institutions, government departments or well-known companies such as Microsoft or Honda. They may also provide links to slick looking, but fraudulent websites that are designed to back up information included in the scam emails. If the scammers are successful in establishing a dialogue with a potential victim, they may provide "proof" such as a scanned image of a supposed government official's ID and even photographs of the "winnings" in cash.

There are thousands of variations of these scam messages. However, 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. Be very wary of any unsolicited message that claims you have won a large sum of money, especially if you have never purchased a ticket in the supposed lottery.

View many more examples of lottery scams

Find out more about lottery scams

A typical example of a lottery scam message:
REF NO: TLOT/542372452560/05
BATCH NO:234984/AIS763564/Bacc

RE: AWARD NOTIFICATION/ FINAL NOTICE

We are pleased to inform you of the result of the GLOBAL SOFTWARE GROUP MICROSOFT LOTTERY which was held on the 4th March,2006. Your name attached to a ticket number 025164-1464992-750 with serial number 2113-05 drew the lucky numbers 1-10-24-30-38-45 which consequently won the lottery in the 1st category. You have therefore been approved for a lump sum payout of US$500,000.00 (Five hundred thousand US Dollars) in cash credited to the file reference number: TLOT/3372452560/04. This is from a total cash prize of US$14.000,000.00 (Fourteen Million US Dollars) shared among twelve (28) international winners in this grand category.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Your funds is now deposited in a suspense account with our paying Bank insured to your name waiting remittance into your bank account.

Due to the privacy policy guiding this lottery promtional programme, we advice that you keep your award from public notice until your claims has been processed and your money remitted to your nominated bank account as this is this is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unwarranted abuse of this program by the general public.

All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from 25,000 names and E-mail addresses from Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America as part of our international lottery program which we conduct twice every year. We hope that with part of your prize, you will part-take next year in our high stakes US$1.3billion International Lottery. To claim your Prize, please contact your claims agent

MR.Larry Jones.
TEL: [Removed]

E-mail: [Removed]
Alternative Email: [Removed]

Foreign Services Manager, Payment Process and Release Order Department,

Regards,
Mrs. Becky Adams.
(Lottery Co-ordinator)

Reply to this email address:[Removed]


[TOP]

Chad Briody Charity Request Hoax

This absurd message is just one more in a long line of hoaxes that try to convince recipients that money will be donated to help a sick child every time the message is forwarded.

The message claims that the Make-A-Wish Foundation will donate 7 cents to help dying 7-year-old Chad Briody every time the message is reposted. However, the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not donate money based on how many times a particular email message is forwarded, nor would any other company or charitable organization. Although they are a common feature of hoax emails, such claims are simply ridiculous. Any message that makes such claims is almost certainly a hoax and should be ignored. Even in the vastly unlikely event that a charity or other entity did agree to such an absurd fundraising scheme, there is simply no reliable way of tracking an email message that may be forwarded many thousands of times and therefore no way of accurately tallying the amount to be donated.

In any case, this plea to help "Chad Briody" is simply a rehashed version of earlier hoaxes. A very similar variation makes a virtually identical request to help 7-year-old Amy Bruce. Yet another version claims that 15-year-old Kayla Wightman is the youngster in need of assistance.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation has denied any involvement in chain letter charity requests of this nature. Information on the Make A Wish Foundation website states that:
Each day, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America and chapters receive hundreds of inquiries regarding chain letters claiming to be associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As a matter of policy, the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not conduct these types of wishes - including Internet and e-mail requests.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation also has the following advise for those who receive one of these hoax-messages:
If you receive a chain letter...

Please reply to the sender and inform him or her that the Make-A-Wish Foundation does not participate in these kinds of wishes.
Refer the sender and all recipients to this page.
Please do not forward the chain letter.
Hoaxes that base themselves on a story about a sick or dying child are particularly reprehensible. The morally challenged individuals who create such hoaxes know that most decent people will want to try to help a sick child and they rely on the fact that Internet users who are unaware of such nasty ploys are likely to forward these apparent "charity" requests without too much forethought.

If you receive such a message, please do not send it to others. Do not give the sick-minded swine who start these hoaxes the satisfaction of seeing their heinous creations continue to spread. Such messages should be deleted.

References:
Make a Wish Foundation - Chain Letter Information
Amy Bruce Charity Hoax
Kayla Wightman Charity Hoax
Other Charity Hoaxes

An example of the hoax email:
HI FRIENDS, LET'S ALL HELP THIS PRECIOUS LITTLE BOY!!! HIS LIFE DEPENDS ON US!

Hi, my name is Chad Briody. I am 7 years old, and I have a large tumor on my brain and severe lung cancer. The doctors say I will die soon if this isnt fixed, and my family cant pay the bills. The Make A Wish Foundation has agreed to donate 7 cents for every time this message is reposted. For those of you who repost, I thank you so much. But for those who dont repost it, I will still pray for you. Please, if you are a kind person, have a heart. Please, please, PLEASE REPOST THIS MESSAGE!

Chad Briody [NUMBER REMOVED] Home




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Jamie Bulger Email Petition

This email petition is now so far out of date that sending it onward is totally pointless. Although the events described in the email are factual, the boys who committed this horrendous crime were released in 2001, so the continuation of this petition in 2006 and beyond is simply a waste of time and bandwidth.

In February 1993 Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who were both ten years old at the time, tortured and killed toddler Jamie Bulger and left his battered body on railway tracks.

At trial, the boys were sentenced to an indefinite period of detainment with a minimum of 8 years. Soon after, this was increased to a minimum of 10 years. However, the perceived leniency of this sentence created a great deal of public debate in the UK. A 300,000-signature petition organized by the Sun newspaper called for the boys' time in custody to be increased. In 1995, the sentence was increased to a minimum of fifteen years. In 1997, this increased sentence was reversed when the Court of Appeal found that it was unlawful. In 1999, the original ten-year minimum sentence was reduced to 8 years after lawyers acting for the boys appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

Finally, in June 2001, the boys were released from custody under stringent conditions and with new identities. An open-ended injunction in place when the boys were released prevents the publication of any information that could lead to their identification or whereabouts. Although unconfirmed "sightings" of the boys have been reported, their current whereabouts remains hidden from the general public.

Some versions of the petition (including the one below) claim that the boys were to be relocated to Australia. However, given that the boys are to remain indefinitely under the supervision of UK authorities as a condition of release, this seems unlikely. It is also highly improbable that the Australian government would have agreed to such a relocation.

Given the horrific nature of this crime, it is not surprising that the original sentence and subsequent early release of Venables and Thompson has caused such outrage, not only in the UK, but in the rest of the world as well. Originally, this email petition was undoubtedly a heart-felt expression of this outrage.

However, regardless of any intrinsic value that the petition might have once possessed, one fact is paramount. Rightly or wrongly, these boys were released and relocated years ago, and no amount of names on an email petition is going to change this. The continued circulating of this message will serve no good purpose.

You can read extensive information about the Jamie Bulger case via the links below:
The Death of James Bulger
James Bulger - Wikipedia

An example of the email petition:
Do you remember February 1993 when a young 3 yr old was taken from Liverpool, United Kingdom,by two 10-year-old boys. Jamie Bulger walked away from his mother for only a second and Jon Venables took his hand and led him out of the mall with his friend Robert Thompson.

They took Jamie on a walk for over 2 and a half miles, along the way stopping every now and again to torture the poor little boy who was crying constantly for his mummy.

Finally they stopped at a railway track where they brutally kicked him, threw stones at him, rubbed paint in his eyes and pushed batteries up his anus.

It was actually worse than this . What these two boys did was so horrendous that Jamie's mother was forbidden to identify his body.

They then left his beaten small body on the tracks so a train could run him over to hide the mess they had created. These two boys, even being boys, understood what they did was wrong, hence trying to make it look like an accident.

This week Lady Justice Butler-Slosshas awarded the two boys anonymity for the rest of their lives when they leave custody with new identities.

They will also leave early this year only serving just over half of their sentence. They are being relocated to Australia to live out the rest of their lives. They disgustingly and violently took Jamie's life away in return they each get a new life.

Please ... if you feel, as we do, that this is a grave miscarriage of justice .. copy the entire email ..then add your name at the end, and send it to everyone you can.

If you are the 500th person to sign, please forward this e-mail to:
[address removed] and attention it to Lady Justice Butler-Sloss.

Then start the list over again and send to your friends and family. The Love-Bug virus took less that 72 hours to reach the world. I hope this one does as well.

We need to protect our family and friends from creatures like Robert and Jon. One day they may be living next door to you and your small children, without your knowledge

[391 names and area addresses removed]




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Hoax-Slayer Humour: Animals are Really People in Disguise

A series of cute and amusing animal pictures has been circulating via email. I've uploaded the pictures to their own web page on Hoax-Slayer.

Click to check out the pictures

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Brett M.Christensen
Queensland, Australia
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©Brett M. Christensen, 2008
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