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Mr Common Sense Virus Hoax Email

Summary:
Message claims that a dangerous computer virus is being distributed via an email with the subject line "Obituary of the late Mr Common Sense" (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted April 2007)
VERY IMPORTANT WARNING

Please Be Extremely Careful especially if using internet mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and so on This information arrived this morning direct from both Microsoft and Norton.

Please send it to everybody you know who has access to the Internet.

You may receive an apparently harmless email with a HEADING
"Obituary of the late Mr Common Sense... may he rest in peace!"

If you receive it DO NOT OPEN THE FILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, and delete it immediately. If you open this file, the original sender will gain access to your name, e-mail and password, the virus slowly degrades your computer memory and will periodically crash your operating system. The virus concels itself as conservative humor, and is most likely to infect the computers of republicans, liberterians and cranky old men.

This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon. AOL has already confirmed the severity, and the antivirus software's are not capable of destroying it. The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself "Mr. common sense."

PLEASE SEND A COPY OF THIS EMAIL TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS and ask them to PASS IT ON IMMEDIATELY




Commentary:
According to this warning message, a new and destructive computer virus is targeting webmail users and arrives in an email with the subject line, "Obituary of the late Mr Common Sense... may he rest in peace". However, the claims in the message are untrue. There is no virus like the one described in the warning. In fact, the message is just a variant of the Life is Beautiful Virus Hoax that has been hitting inboxes since 2002.

Some of the wording of the original hoax has been changed to include references to "Mr Common Sense" rather than "Life is Beautiful" and the supposedly destructive results of the "virus" have also been modified.

The prankster was apparently inspired by a popular satirical piece called Obituary of the Late Mr. Common Sense by writer Allen Jesson. As the name implies, the piece laments the passing of "Common Sense", along with some of his relatives:
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.

[.......]

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and Iím A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Read full artcile

The piece has been published on a number of websites and is also a popular blog and forum topic. The reference to "conservative humor" in the hoax email is most probably directed at Mr. Jesson's article. However, whether you agree with Mr. Jesson's sentiments or not, the piece certainly does not conceal a computer virus.

Ironically, the hoax itself may well be intended as humorous commentary like the article that inspired it. According to the message, the virus "is most likely to infect the computers of republicans, liberterians and cranky old men". Clearly, not even the most advanced computer virus can choose its targets based on their political orientation, age, gender or general demeanour.

Thus, the "warning" may have been intended as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the original hoax. Nevertheless, submissions indicate that some recipients are apparently taking the "virus warning" at face value and believe that its claims are valid.

Virus hoaxes are one of the most "successful" types of hoaxes and often circulate continually for years. Moreover, legitimate virus warning emails sometimes mutate over time until any validity or relevance they once had is lost. Therefore, it is important to check the validity of any virus warnings that cross your inbox before you hit the "Forward" button. Otherwise, you may inadvertently help to clog the world's inboxes with pointless and confusing misinformation.

References:
Life is Beautiful Virus Hoax
Symantec: Life is Beautiful Hoax
Obituary of the Late Mr. Common Sense
Should Virus Warning Emails be Forwarded?
Virus Email Hoaxes

Last updated: 18th April 2007
First published: 18th April 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen