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Deadly Mobile Phone Virus Hoax

Summary:
Warning email claims that receiving a mobile phone call from certain numbers will cause brain hemorrhaging and death (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, April 2007)
Subject: mobile phone brain virus

Hi All,

Its very important news for all of you. Do not pick up calls from the Under given numbers.

9888308001,
9316048121,
9876266211,
9888854137,
9876715587 ,
These numbers will come in red color, if the call comes up from these numbers. Its with very high wave length, and frequency. If a call is received on mobile from these numbers, it creates a very high frequency and it causes brain ham range.

It's not a joke rather, its TRUE. 27 persons died just on receiving calls from these numbers. Watch Aaj Tak (NEWS), DD News and IBN 7.

Forward this message to all u'r friends and colleagues, and relative




Commentary:
A new rumour that is spreading rapidly via word-of-mouth, email, phone and sms claims that simply receiving a mobile (cell) phone call from certain numbers will activate a terrible virus that causes brain hemorrhaging and death. According to the message, the phone calls create high frequency tones that damage the user's brain, causing fatal injuries. The message claims that 27 people have already died and names several news outlets where people can supposedly find out more information.

There is, of course, not a shred of truth to this absurd story. There is no virus like the one described, nor is one even possible. No one has died and the only news reports on the subject are those dismissing it as a hoax.

The hoax apparently started as a text message that began circulating in Pakistan. It soon spread to Afghanistan where it has caused terror throughout the country. Network operators and government officials in both countries have moved to quell the rumours. Mobile Business Magazine notes:
Pakistan network operators released a joint statement saying: "These rumors are completely baseless. They do not make any sense in technological terms."

Afghan officials have since appeared on television, appealing for calm and reassuring people that there is no possible way a person can contract a virus via a telephone call.
However, in spite of these assurances, the story took on a life of its own and caused a wave of panic to sweep the country. As well as the brain hemorrhage claims, some versions claimed that call recipients suffered instant heart attacks, strokes or convulsions. Some people even believed that simply pressing a button on a mobile phone would release a "death ray".

Those allegedly responsible for the hoax have now been arrested. An IWPR article notes:
On the evening of April '7, the interior ministry announced that four men had been arrested in connection with the case.

According to one version of events, the hoax was traced to a company that imports special "magnetic cards" that are hung around the neck and will supposedly protect the wearer from the harmful effects of computers and mobile phones.

An official in the Ministry of Communications, who did not want to give his name, alleged that the company involved put the rumour out in retaliation for a ministry statement telling people not to buy the magnetic cards.
The stories are somewhat reminiscent of Cell, a novel by horror writer Stephen King in which a brain-altering mobile phone call wreaks havoc among US citizens. Like the novel however, the stories are purely a work of fiction.

If you receive this message, please let the sender know that it is a hoax and do not pass it on to others.

References:
Panic Over Deadly Mobile Virus
rban Myth Spreads Panic
PTA rejects rumors of mobile virus threat
Phone virus rumours spook Afghans
Cell - Review - Books - New York Times

Last updated: 20th April 2007
First published: 20th April 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen