Issue 63 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter
Issue 63: July 2006
This month 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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Important Announcement: New Newsletter Delivery Format (Please Read)
As of this issue, I have changed the way that the newsletter is delivered. From now on, rather than receive the entire
newsletter via email, you will only receive a brief email to notify you that the next issue of Hoax-Slayer is ready for viewing. The email will contain a direct link to the latest issue. A simple click on this link allows you to view the current issue right in your browser. (As you are doing now :)
Unfortunately, the full emailed version of the newsletter is often falsely rejected as spam by overzealous or poorly configured spam filters. Hoax-Slayer is especially vulnerable to this false filtering because of its subject matter. Usually, the articles I feature in the newsletter include examples of spam, scam or hoax emails. Spam-filtering software is not always sophisticated enough to differentiate between real spam and legitimate warnings
about such spam that includes examples. In fact, even a discussion about a particular type of scam is apparently enough to trigger some spam and malware filters. This means that an increasing number of subscribers do not get to see the newsletter. Moreover, in some cases, the filtering system automatically informs the intended recipient that a message (i.e the newsletter) from me has been blocked as "malicious" or "spam" and this has lead some subscribers to conclude that I am an evil spammer or scammer. Since the major purpose of the newsletter is to help users protect
themselves from scams, hoaxes and spam, this is quite ironic and very upsetting (sigh).
As more and more ISP's and individual users turn to filtering to battle the scourge of spam, this problem has become significantly worse and will continue to do so. Naturally, my aim is to ensure that as many subscribers as possible have the opportunity to read the newsletter. I am also unwilling to put up with the slurs on my reputation caused by false spam reports. Thus, I feel that this change in format is entirely necessary. Since it will not contain a large number of keywords that commonly trigger spam filters, a simple notification email is much less likely to be mistakenly rejected.
While this new approach may seem a little less convenient at first, there are actually some real benefits to a web-based format as listed below:
- A web-based HTML format means that issues are much easier to read and navigate than an emailed plain-text equivalent.
- A web-based format means that articles can be easily updated if more information becomes available, errors can be corrected and inactive links can be removed or replaced.
- Web-based issues are more visually attractive than an emailed plain-text equivalent, and can contain embedded photographs or other images as appropriate.
- HTML format allows article references to be embedded within the text as hyperlinks for easier access.
- A simple notification email is much smaller in size than a full emailed version of the newsletter, and will therefore download rapidly, and consume less bandwidth.
- In the past I have sent the full newsletter as well as a follow-up notification email. The change means that only one mailing per month will be necessary.
- Finally, preparing two separate versions of the newsletter is quite time consuming, so this change will mean that I have extra time to spend on researching and writing articles.
Thus, I'm convinced that this change will not only alleviate spam filtering problems but will also effectively enhance the value of the newsletter to subscribers.
Thank-you and I do hope that you continue to find the newsletter informative and helpful.
809 Area Code Scam Warning Email
The email forward shown below, ostensibly from American telecommunications giant, AT&T warns that consumers are being tricked into dialling international telephone numbers and thereby incurring enormous call charges of thousands of dollars per minute.
There are serious inaccuracies in the message as explained later in the article. However, international call scams are real. In the US, international telephone numbers can usually be identified by the prefix "011". However, some non-US destinations have area codes such as 809, 284, 876 and others that can make telephone numbers look like domestic calls when they are actually international calls that incur international call charges. Scammers have capitalized on this element of confusion in order to trick people into dialling such numbers. A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) article
about international telephone number scams notes:
You could end up with a hefty phone bill if you call such an international telephone number. That's because each country sets its own telephone rates and there's no limit to the per-minute charge. The companies urging you to call have an incentive to keep you on the line as long as possible because they receive a portion of the international long distance charge. The more often you call —and the longer you stay on the line — the more they profit."
Although such scams do occur, they are not a common or widespread practice. According to an article
about area code fraud on the AT&T website:
The 809 area code scam first surfaced five years ago and continues to victimize consumers on occasion, although much less frequently than in the past. And there have been far more inquiries about it than consumers actually being victimized.
In order to avoid being caught out by International call scams, consumers should remain vigilant and be very cautious about dialling unfamiliar area codes. "Urgent" or "important" answering machine or email messages that request recipients to call a number for more information should be treated with suspicion until the number can be verified. Consumers can easily check the true destination of area codes by entering the number into a web-based Area Code Decoder
Consumers who have no need to make international calls may be able to eliminate the risk of such scams by asking their service provider to block international calling.
Although the core claims in this email warning are basically factual, it contains seriously inaccurate and misleading information as detailed below:
- The message substantially exaggerates the potential costs to victims.
Legitimate and factual information about the scam was published in a 1996 issue of the well respected Internet ScamBusters. However, someone began circulating an altered version of the article via email without the permission of the authors. The message further mutated as it travelled and claims about the per minute call costs incurred by victims of the scam became more and more wildly exaggerated. The current version of the message claims that callers can be charged $2425 per minute - a far cry from the possible charge of up to $25 per minute reported in the original ScamBusters article. An updated ScamBusters article about the 809 fraud published in 1999 points out that such massive charges are highly unlikely and suggests that a total charge for a scam call could possibly reach $100 - a long way short of the message's outrageous claim of charges as high as $24,100.00. Also, an article debunking the message on the AT&T website notes:
The e-mail also warns consumers that dialing the 809 area code will result in charges of $2,400 per minute. That simply isn't true. The basic rate for a call to the Dominican Republic is less than $4 a minute although some 809 numbers terminate with pay-per-call services that permit the levy of additional fees.
- The warning that recipients should never dial the area codes discussed ("DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809, 284 AND 876") is unrealistic and misleading.
In the vast majority of cases these area codes are connected with perfectly legitimate, normal phone numbers. For example, if you happen to have friends or family living in Jamaica than it is likely that you will need to dial the area code "876" along with their domestic phone number. Although such calls will be charged at international call rates, there is no scam involved. Thus, the message's implication that the area codes 809, 284 or 876 are only used by scammers is unfounded.
- The claim that the 809 area code belongs to the British Virgin Islands is now untrue.
809 is the area code for the Dominican Republic while the second number listed in the message is for the British Virgin Islands. Also, the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas are entirely separate locations and are not different names for the same place as suggested in the message.
- The message was not sent by AT&T and the apparent endorsement by an AT&T Field Service Manager named "Sandi Van Handel" is entirely bogus.
According to the previously mentioned "AT&T article, "the e-mail purports to originate within AT&T's corporate offices and includes the name and partial telephone number of an imaginary employee." It seems apparent that the bogus references to AT&T were added in an attempt to give false authority to the message.
Because of the misleading and inaccurate nature of the information in the message it should not be forwarded in its current form. A much better method of warning others about international call scams would be to simply direct them to an accurate web based report on the issue. Unlike an email forward, a website article can be updated if new information comes to hand. Furthermore a website article is not susceptible to random mutations caused by transcription errors or reader alterations. In fact, this long running email chain letter represents a very good example of why forwarding such warnings via email is NOT a good idea. As stated, the original Internet Scam Busters article was a timely and accurate advisory to consumers about international call scams. However, after being stolen from the original source and subsequently forwarded many thousands of times over a number of years and altered considerably along the way, the message's value as a legitimate warning has been quite significantly eroded.
By all means, make yourself and others aware of the potential for fraud associated with international phone calls. However, sending on an inaccurate and misleading email about this issue is likely to be counterproductive.
International Telephone Number Scams
AT&T: AREA CODE FRAUD
Area Code Decoder
Internet ScamBusters: 809 Scam (Original Article)
ScamBusters: 809 Area Code Scam Update
809 Phone Scam - Beware FCC advisory
An example of the warning email:
Subject: Fw: IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT AREA CODES
IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT AREA CODE
We actually received a call last week from the 809 area code. The woman said "Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you--get back to us quickly. I Have something important to tell you." Then she repeated a phone number beginning with 809 . We didn't respond.
Then this week, we received the following e-mail:
Subject: DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809 , 284 AND 876
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION PROVIDED TO US BY AT&T. DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809
This one is being distributed all over the US . This is pretty scary, especially given the way they try to get you to call. Be sure you read this and pass it on.
They get you to call by telling you that it is information about a family member who has been ill or to tell you someone has been arrested, died, or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc.
In each case, you are told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls.
If you call from the US , you will apparently be charged $2425 per-minute.
Or, you'll get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $24, 100.00.
WHY IT WORKS:
The 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Islands (The Bahamas).
The charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That's because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong.
Please forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them become aware of this scam
Sandi Van Handel
AT&T Field Service Manager
Jaleel White of Urkel Fame Is Not Dead
In June 2006, yet another fake news story falsely announcing the untimely death of a celebrity began hitting inboxes. This time, the "victim" is US based actor and writer Jaleel White, perhaps best known for his role as the irritating but lovable Steve Urkel in the comedy series "Family Matters"
. However, Jaleel White is alive and well. The actor has now publicly declared
this fact on his official website.
Like others of its kind, the message is disguised as an apparently legitimate news article attributed to the Associated Press( AP) news service. However searches of the AP website
reveal no record of such an article. Versions of the "news" story have been circulating online
since late 2005. White apparently once jokingly told
TV Guide that he would be "trying to commit suicide and just don't know how to do it" if he decided to play the "Urkel" character again and this seemingly lead to earlier rumours
that he took his own life after "Family Matters" ended. Another rumour claimed that he died of the eating disorder Anorexia apparently in a prolonged form of suicide. As one poster to the IMDb forums
notes, the stories would have us believe that Jaleel has now committed suicide at least three times in the last few years. The author of this fictional news report was perhaps inspired by these earlier rumours.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) filmography
for Jaleel White records that he has appeared in several productions during 2006, including TV drama "24". Although White has kept a comparatively low profile since the demise of Urkel and Family Matters, he has been busy acting and writing for a variety of productions and there is no evidence to suggest that he "became obsessed with the [Urkel] character, and grew despondent".
If White had really committed suicide then there would certainly be legitimate news reports about his death in a variety of media. However, there are no genuine news reports confirming the story. The only news references
to the actors' death are those debunking the story as a hoax.
Also, the message claims that White left a suicide note that consisted only of Urkel's popular catchphrase, "Did I do that?". Clearly, this is the hoax writer's rather lame attempt at humour, and is another indicator that the story is bogus.
Hoaxes about the demise of well known people are not uncommon. Earlier in 2006, a hoax falsely claimed that actor Will Ferrell
had died in a hang-gliding accident. In 2004, a fake news article claimed that American Idol contestant William Hung
had died of a deliberate drug overdose.
There is nothing remotely funny or clever about spreading false rumours about a person's death, regardless of his or her celebrity status. If you receive a message claiming that a well-known person has died, always take the time to check its veracity before sending it on.
JaleelWhite.com: Official Website
Goodbye, Urkel( Scroll to last Item)
IMDb forums (Registration Required)
IMDb: Jaleel White
TV Squad: Jaleel White is NOT dead!
An example of the hoax email:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Jaleel White, who played 'nerdy' neighbor Steve Urkel on "Family Matters" found dead Monday. He was 29 years old.
White was pronounced dead on arrival after admission to an LA hospital early Monday morning. The death is being investigated as a suicide.
Born Jaleel Ahmad White, he began his career at the age of three acting in television commercials, before landing guest spots on shows such as "The Jeffersons" and "Mr. Belvedere." It was in 1989 that White landed the role that would make him famous, playing wacky neighbor 'Steve Urkel' on the ABC program "Family Matters."
Following the cancellation of "Family Matters" in 1997, friends claim White became obsessed with the character, and grew despondent, despite further successes as star and producer of the UPN sitcom "Grownups", and as a writer for NBA.com.
Neighbor and friend, Bradley Spencer alerted police after hearing what he described as "a loud bang" coming from White's Los Angeles apartment.
Authorities state that upon entering the home they discovered a young African-American male with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Also found was a note, which read simply "Did I do that?", a popular catchphrase from the show.
"Jaleel was an uncommonly good man, an exceptional role model and a great comedic actor," said William Bickley, who created the series, and Thomas L. Miller, one of the executive producers, in a joint statement.
"We feel privileged to have known him and worked with him. He'll be missed and remembered every day by his many, many friends," they said.
Actress Kellie Williams — Laura Winslow on the series — described White as a consummate professional actor. "Everyone adored him," she said.
"We have all lost a dear, dear brother," said Reginald VelJohnson, who played Carl Winslow.
White, an only child, is survived by "cousins, aunts, uncles, and wonderful friends," Bickley said.
Mother Tiger Nurses Piglets Email
The email forward included below arrives with photographs of a mother tiger suckling several piglets cutely clad in "tiger" suits. The message claims that veterinarians at a Californian zoo introduced the disguised piglets to the mother tiger in an effort to alleviate her depression after she lost her real cubs. The photographs are genuine. However, the explanation is a work of fiction.
The photographs were actually taken at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo
in Thailand and not in California. The zoo is renowned for its rather bizarre cross-species displays. According to a 2004 article
in the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) Quarterly:
The Sriracha Tiger Zoo, an hour outside of Bangkok, Thailand, is truly an amazing place. Boasting more than 400 tigers, a handful of Asian elephants, piles of crocodiles, camels, snakes and other exotic animals, the zoo has some intriguing, yet troubling exhibits.
In one glass room, a farrowing crate entombed a pig who, lying on her side, nourished both her piglets and tiger cubs. Across the hall, another glass room housed a female tiger, who fed piglets adorned in tiger-print costumes. This incongruous display was replicated elsewhere, where enclosures housed tigers, pigs, and dogs together.
The zoo features a tiger circus and a variety of displays and shows
designed to entertain guests, including crocodile and elephant shows, pig racing, "the genius pig that can calculate in 5 languages" and "Scorpion Queen, the girl with over 100 scorpions on her body". In spite of the claims in the email forward, the tiger suited piglets were not given to a grieving mother tiger to help her depression. Instead, they represent a callous manipulation of animals for the gratification of their human visitors. Other photographs
show the piglets interacting with a tiger without their "tiger" disguises, so the tiger suits are clearly to increase the entertainment value of the display and are not really required. Photographs also depict
a mother pig returning the "favour" by suckling tiger cubs.
It seems apparent that the author of this email forward has simply invented a touching story to suit a set of rather intriguing images. The photographs are certainly interesting. However, they do not depict an act of kindness by concerned humans intent on helping an animal in distress as implied in the message. Instead, they exemplify our unfortunate willingness to exploit our fellow creatures for our own selfish purposes.
Sriracha Tiger Zoo
AWI: Too Close For Comfort
Pattaya Attractions : Sriracha Tiger Zoo
Amazing sites at Sriracha Tiger Zoo
Piglets sleep on tiger at Siracha zoo in Thailand
An example of the email forward:
Subject: FW: tiger piggy pictures
In a zoo in California, a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triple tiger cubs. Unfortunately, due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, died shortly after birth.
The mother tiger started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve.
After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species. The only "orphans" that could be found quickly were a litter of wiener pigs. The zoo keepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger.
Would they become cubs or pork chops????????????? Take a look........ you won't believe your eyes!!!!"
Spyware Doctor - Comprehensively Protect Your Computer from Spyware
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.
As noted above, I am an affiliate for Spyware Doctor. For more information please refer to my Affiliate Marketing Policy
Beware of the "Click for more information" Tactic
Recently, an email scam began targeting customers
of the National Australia Bank (NAB). The email claimed that the bank was going bankrupt and directed recipients to click on a link included in the message in order to read more information. However, clicking the link opened a webpage that could automatically install a malicious trojan onto the user's computer.
While this particular incident may not be relevant to non-Australians, all Internet users need to be aware of the tactic used in the scam. Versions of the ploy are commonly used in scam emails. In 2005, a scam message was distributed that claimed that Osama Bin-Laden had been captured
and urged recipients to click a link to access more information. Another scam message claimed that
singer Michael Jackson had committed suicide and included a link so that recipients could "read more". Like the National Australia Bank scam, both these messages lead to trojans that could steal personal information from infected computers. There have been a number of other scams that have used the tactic.
Regardless of the cover story, the intention of all such emails is to make the recipient curious or alarmed enough to click on the link to access more information without too much forethought. Once forewarned, however, it is not difficult for users to avoid falling victim to this sort of tactic. Any unsolicited email that contains a snippet of information about a highly news-worthy event or person and urges recipients to follow a link for more information should be treated with caution. Rather than just click on the link included, recipients can easily check the veracity of the story via a news source such as Google News. A big story such as the bankruptcy of a large financial institution or the death of a high profile celebrity would certainly be featured in major news outlets.
Of course, not every email message that contains information about a "big story" will be malicious. Information about new and important news stories often circulates via email as people began discussing the issue. However, it should only take a minute or so to check if that "big news story" is actually true, so erring on the side of caution will cost nothing except a little time and could save you from becoming another scam victim.
Bush Hid The Facts - Notepad Conspiracy Claim
The little Windows Notepad "trick" shown below is often posted to online forums and blogs and also travels via email. When the phrase "Bush hid the facts" is typed into the Windows XP or Windows NT/2000 versions of Notepad as instructed in the example below, the re-opened file displays an unreadable line of squares or Chinese style characters.
The first image below shows the text before closing the Notepad file. The second image shows the text as it is displayed after the file is re-opened:
Some of the more wide-eyed conspiracy theorists postulate that this result is a form of political commentary directed against US President Bush and was knowingly and deliberately programmed into Notepad by Microsoft.
Alas, the truth is far less compelling. It appears that a lot of other character strings in the pattern 4 letters, 3 letters, 3 letters and 5 letters will give the same result. For example, the phrase "Bill fed the goats" also displays the garbled text as shown below:
In fact, even a line of text such as "hhhh hhh hhh hhhhh" will elicit the same results.
Since I first published this article, a few readers have pointed out that some character strings that fit the "4,3,3,5" pattern do not
generate the error. For example, the phrase "Bush hid the truth" is displayed normally. However, conspiracy theorists should not take this as aiding their argument. "Fred led the brats", "brad ate the trees" and other strings also escape the error.
Thus, any hint of political conspiracy fades into oblivion and is replaced by a rather mundane programming bug. It seems probable that a certain combination and/or frequency of letters in the character string cause Notepad to misinterpret the encoding of the file when it is re-opened. If the file is originally saved as "Unicode" rather than "ANSI" the text displays correctly. Older versions of Notepad such as those that came with Windows 95, 98 or ME do not include Unicode support so the error does not occur.
So, nothing weird here at all...except perhaps for the fact that someone, somewhere had nothing better to do than turn a simple software glitch into another lame conspiracy theory.
An example of the message:
Subject: political conspiracy?
hey this is really weird!!
type "bush hid the facts" without quotation marks
don't press "enter"
save the file
open the file again
what do you think?
Liquid Candy Laryngospasm Warning
I began receiving enquiries about the email forward shown below in late May 2006. The message is a warning from a mother and relates the experience of a child who suffered a laryngospasm after swallowing a form of liquid candy. As the message states, a laryngospasm is a sudden spasm of the vocal cords that can seriously interfere with breathing. According to a GPnotebook entry:
Laryngospasm describes a firm muscular closure of the laryngeal cords. Airflow to the lungs is impeded.
Common causes include allergic reactions such as angioneurotic oedema, foreign bodies, and infection e.g. epiglotitis.
Laryngospasm is the body's way of preventing water or other substances from entering the windpipe and, subsequently, the lungs. An article
discussing laryngospasm on voicedoctor.net notes:
As soon as your voice box or the area of the windpipe below the voicebox detect the entry of water or other substance, the vocal folds spasm shut. Evolutionarily speaking, this works very well to keep water out of the lungs - if you start to drown or a bug flies down your throat while you were starting to inhale, the vocal cords very immediately and very effectively close.
That closure is a benefit to protect the airway, but it makes "breathing in", very difficult. It can happen even when only the sensation is present of something other than air entering the windpipe.
Kylin's story appears to be true and the details in the message seem consistent with descriptions of laryngospasm.. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed receiving a report about such an incident and has issued the following advisory
"ADVISORY - ADVICE REGARDING THE USE OF SOUR SPRAY CANDY
Ottawa - June 9, 2006 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising consumers that sour spray candy should be consumed, as intended, by spraying the product on the tongue and not by drinking the product.
Sour spray candy is typically sold in spray top plastic bottles that contain a concentrated liquid. There are several types of sour spray candy products in the marketplace. Although an adverse health consequence is unlikely, as with all children’s novelty products, parents and caregivers are cautioned to familiarize themselves with the product in advance, noting any age restrictions and conditions of use indicated on the label.
The CFIA has received a report of a child who experienced throat spasms after drinking sour spray candy directly from the container.
While sour spray candy is safe for children to consume as intended, children should be cautioned against opening the container or trying to drink the product.
The CFIA investigates consumer complaints on a ongoing basis and works with Health Canada to assess food safety issues.
For more information, please contact:
CFIA Media Relations
Seeing your child suffer a laryngospasm would certainly be a frightening experience for any parent. After such an experience, it would be natural for the mother to warn other parents about what she perceived as a potentially dangerous substance. However, while this warning appears to be a true account of what happened and be well intentioned, it may also be misleading. There is little doubt that a candy spray could potentially induce laryngospasm when used in the way described in the message. However, it is important to keep in mind that consuming a wide range of other foods and liquids, as well as other factors such as the effects of anaesthesia and allergic reactions, can potentially induce the condition. In fact, even the small amount of sugary saliva
generated when chewing candy has been known to cause laryngospasm. Thus, it would be wrong for parents to conclude from the warning that restricting the consumption of spray candies will negate the risk of laryngospasm. As noted, virtually any liquid can potentially cause a laryngospasm. Any substance that "goes down the wrong way" can cause the vocal cords to suddenly slam shut in order to prevent liquid from entering the lungs.
An awareness of the causes and effects
of a laryngospasm is useful knowledge for any parent. Knowing what was occurring could help parents more effectively deal with such a situation. Certainly, parents should ensure that children consume candy or other products as the manufacture intended. However, although the message is valid, recipients should keep in mind that sour candy will not always cause a laryngospasm if sipped instead of sprayed and that many other substances are capable of causing the condition.
Information for patients with laryngospasm
ADVISORY - ADVICE REGARDING THE USE OF SOUR SPRAY CANDY
Choking on the "Juice" of Candy
An example of the warning message:
Subject: FW: Warning about children's candy
This one's on the up and up.
We had a very scary incident with Kylin Saturday night all because of some candy. It's a liquid that's sour and you just spray it into your mouth. I was right by Kylin and her friend and heard them say that it would be fun to see what it would taste like if the drank some instead of just sprayed it]. (you know, typical kid fun stuff, I thought nothing of it) So Kylin said she'd try it and took the lid off (it's just like a pump style hair spray top) and she took one sip. I turned around to ask if she was ok cause I thought she was making noises like when water or something just doesn't go down right and realized that she was just gasping over and over again for air and wasn't actually breathing. She was having a laryngospasm!
The definition of what happened is this -
The sudden acute spasm of the vocal cords (and epiglottis) that can result in occlusion of the airway and death.
This medical definition above is from http://cancerweb.ncl.ac.uk/cgi-bin/omd?action=Home&query=
Anyway, Kylin's airways did close and she couldn't breath, so we had to call 911. She threw up before the ambulance got here and she did start being able to breath after that but still had difficulties for a little bit. The paramedics recommended we take her to the urgent care unit here and get her checked out just to be sure cause she continued to have weird spasms that were causing her throat to make a weird noise for about 2 hours after that. The doctor there is who told me what actually happened. She is ok now, thank God, but it was so super scary!!
Kylin and Daegen both have had sour spray candy before (not sure if they've had this kind though, I've seen a few different kinds) and this has never happened but it did this time.
I'm attaching a picture of the spray (like I said, there's lots of different variations out there) and am hoping that it will get forwarded and passed around so that hopefully no child or parent has to ever go through this again.
We are just so lucky that Kylin did start breathing again and is ok now.
I have been in contact with a lady from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and she came to take a look at it this morning and she took some pictures of it and then was on her way to the convenience store to buy some so they could further investigate in. I have also contacted Global news and they may do a story about it, I'm waiting to hear back from them while they are researching it a bit.
Here is the spray that caused this. It says "sour" at the top and then "Big Mouth candy spray" and it does come in different flavors, this one being sour green apple.
Please pass this on to as many people as you can!!!
USS New York Built With World Trade Center Steel
The message below, which travels via email forward and is also a popular blog and forum post, claims that a portion of a new US warship named "USS New York" is being built with scrap steel saved from the remains of the World Trade Center.
The information in the message is true. According to a US Navy Fact Sheet
about the new ship:
Steel salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage will be used in the construction of New York. The shipyard and Navy inspected the steel and found that it was of sufficient material strength so that it could be incorporated into the bow stem of New York.
"We're very proud that the twisted steel from the WTC towers will soon be used to forge an even strong national defense," said New York Gov. George Pataki. "The USS New York will soon be defending freedom and combating terrorism around the globe, while also ensuring that the world never forgets the evil attacks of September 11, 2001 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed in response to terror."
The Fact Sheet
also notes that New York's Governor specifically requested a future warship be given the name "USS New York" to commemorate the victims of the World Trade Center attack:
Governor George E. Pataki wrote a letter to Secretary England requesting that the Navy revive the name USS New York in honor of September 11's victims and to give it a surface warship involved in the war on terror. In his letter, the Governor said he understood state names presently are reserved for submarines but asked for special consideration so the name could be given to a surface ship. The request was approved August 28, 2002.
USS New York (LPD 21) will be the fifth vessel in the San Antonio class of amphibious transport ships and will be based in Norfolk, Virginia when completed.
The ship is being built by Northrop Grumman
Corporation's Ship Systems sector. A 2003 Northrop Grumman News Release
discusses the use of World Trade Center steel in the project and notes:
Our company will treat this steel with dignity and respect," said Dr. Philip A. Dur, president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. "This piece of steel has been washed with the tears of Americans and hardened by millions of prayers from around the world. It is our hope that we can bring strength and victory to this steel and to the whole of LPD 21, and that the spirit of the people who represent her namesake state will fill her future crews with pride and bravery.
The information and image used in the message were taken from an Associated Press article
published in April, 2006. According to the article, the artist's rendering of the USS New York was supplied by Northrop Grumman and depicts how the ship might look "steaming through New York Harbor with lower Manhattan and the building that may replace the World Trade Center in the background"
US Navy Fact Sheet: LPD 21 New York
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Northrop Grumman Melts and Casts World Trade Center Steel for Bow-Stem of New Navy Ship USS New York (LPD 21)
New Navy Ship Being Built With WTC Steel
Twin towers steel for New Orleans warship
An example of the message:
Artists Rendering of the USS New York
With a year to go before it even touches the water, the Navy's amphibious assault ship USS New York has already made history. It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.
USS New York is about 45 percent complete and should be ready for launch in mid-2007 . Katrina disrupted construction when it pounded the Gulf Coast last summer, but the 684-foot vessel escaped serious damage, and workers were back at the yard near New Orleans two weeks after the storm.
It is the fifth in a new class of warship designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.
"It would be fitting if the first mission this ship would go on is to make sure that bin Laden is taken out, his terrorist organization is taken out," said Glenn Clement, a paint foreman. "He came in through the back door and knocked our towers down and (the New York) is coming right through the front door, and we want them to know that."
Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, La., to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. "It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."
Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up."
"It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said. "They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."
The ship's motto? - 'Never Forget'
Bin-Laden and Olympic Torch Virus Warning Hoax
The "virus warning" shown below combines two earlier email forwards that have circulated widely as completely separate messages.
The first part of the message claims that an email about the supposed capture and hanging of Osama Bin Laden contains a dangerous virus that will seriously damage your computer. While the Bin Laden tactic has actually been used in the past to distribute malware (as noted earlier in this issue), the warning is highly exaggerated and significantly outdated.
The second part of the message claims that an email with the subject line "Invitation" carries a virus that can open an "Olympic Torch" that will destroy the hard-drive of the infected computer. However, this claim is totally unfounded. There is not, nor has there ever been, a virus like the one described in the second part of the message. This part of the message is simply a reworking of an even older virus hoax.
The message contains false and misleading information and it should not be forwarded. Another version of the message features the "Invitation" warning first and includes references to the Bin-Laden email at the bottom. Before forwarding any
virus warning email, always take the time to check the veracity of the claims in the message at a reputable anti-virus or anti-hoax website. Sending warning messages about non-existent viruses or messages that distort the truth about real viruses is entirely counterproductive and only adds to the ongoing problems caused by computer security threats.
Trend Micro: Osama Bin Laden Virus Warning Hoax
Osama Bin Laden Virus Emails
Olympic Torch Invitation Virus Hoax
An example of the hoax email:
Emails with pictures of Osama Bin-Laden hanged are being sent and the moment that you open these emails your computer will crash and you will not be able to fix it!
This e-mail is being distributed through countries around the globe, but mainly in the US and Israel.
Don't be inconsiderate; send this warning to
whomever you know.
If you get an email along the lines of "Osama Bin
Laden Captured" or "Osama Hanged" don't open the attachment.
Please read the attached warning issued today.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND CONTACTS:
You should be alert during the next days:
Do not open any message with an attached filed
called "Invitation" regardless of who sent it .
It is a virus that opens an Olympic Torch which "burns" the whole hard disc C of your computer. This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list, that is why you should send this e-mail to all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it.
If you receive a mail called "invitation", though sent by a friend, do not open it and shut down your computer immediately.
This is the worst virus announced by CNN, it has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.
This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind of virus.
This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.
SEND THIS E-MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW, COPY THIS E-MAIL AND SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS AND REMEMBER: IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF US.
Hoax-Slayer Humour: BEST POSITIONS IN BED !!
Ever wondered what the best positions in bed REALLY are? I've uploaded a few pictures to their own web page on Hoax-Slayer that should shed some light on the subject:
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