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Walmart Fire Charity Hoax - Sad Walmart Story

Outline
Email claims that Yahoo (or AOL) will help pay the medical expenses of a child badly burnt in a Walmart fire if the message is forwarded to others.



Brief Analysis
This message is a hoax and should not be forwarded.Yahoo (or AOL) will not give money to help a burned child just for forwarding an email. Any message that claims that money will be donated in exchange for forwarding a message is virtually certain to be a hoax.

Detailed analysis and references below example.
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Last updated: 21st May 2010
First published: 12th September 2004
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Subject: Sad Wal-Mart Story

DO NOT DELETE!!!!! YAHOO IS TRACKING THIS!!!!!!!!!!

A sister and her brother were inside a new Wal-Mart..

The sister was eight years of age and the brother seventeen years old. The brother was trying to buy a present for his little sister because her birthday was coming up. As they were about to leave, she had to go to the bathroom. Her brother showed her where the restrooms were and he began looking at earrings he thought she might like for her birthday.

As he started to buy the earrings, he saw people running from the end of the store screaming and yelling with fear. In the next moment he smelled smoke and saw flames. He ran to his little sister as fast as he could but when he got to the bathrooms the fire was already blazing. He knew he had to leave to make sure help was coming.. When the firetrucks arrived it was already too late. They assured the family that there were no survivors. Two days later the family got a call from the hospital. They told them that they had someone there by the name of Sandy . They asked, 'How did you get this number?' The hospital replied that the little girl had a purse clutched in her little hand with a card that gave her name and number on it. The family drove to the hospital to see their little angel. While they thanked God for her survival, they noticed her arms were burnt so severely they were both amputated, her face was burned and she needed surgery. The family didn't have any health insurance and very little money to cover the bill. This family needs our HELP!

NOTE: Every time someone forwards this story, YAHOO will donate $2.00 towards the hospital bill.

DO NOT DELETE! YAHOO IS TRACKING THIS!
Please forward this as 'Sad Wal-Mart Story'. God knows who you are.

$2.00 off the hospital bill, that is a lot for two seconds of your time God knows who you are. Thank You and have a blessed day.




Detailed Analysis
This oft-forwarded message presents the sad tale of an eight-year-old girl who was badly burnt in a devastating fire at a Walmart store. It informs recipients that the child's family needs help to cover medical expenses. The message claims that the email is being tracked and that money will be donated to help the family every time the email is sent to others. According to the message, Yahoo has agreed to donate $2 every time the message is sent on to others. Another, older, version of the message claims that AOL is the company that has agreed to pay per forwarded email.

However, the claims in the message are false. In fact, the story is just one in a long line of similar charity hoaxes, that make the absurd claim that money will be donated in exchange for forwarding an email.

The concept of individual emails being "tracked" as they journey through cyberspace is a common theme among hoax emails. The only way to keep track of the random journeys of a particular email would be to embed some sort of hidden script in the email. To be effective, this hidden script would have to remain intact and working through thousands of subsequent forwardings. In reality, the message would be very unlikely to remain in a format that allowed the script to continue working for long. Moreover, many modern email programs would remove or disable any sort of tracking script for security reasons. Thus, it would be simply impossible to collect any accurate or meaningful data about an email that could ultimately be forwarded many thousands of times and therefore impossible to calculate the amount of money to be donated.

In any case, tracking an email in the way described would be considered by many to be a significant privacy infringement and it is highly unlikely that any ethical charity organization would knowingly participate in such a practice. Furthermore, it is absurd to suggest that any responsible organization would base the amount to be donated on how many times an email was forwarded. There is simply no valid reason whatsoever for imposing such a cruel and callous restriction. If an organization is willing and able to offer financial help, they will do so directly and the amount donated will not depend on the random forwarding of an email.

As is often the case with such hoax emails, the story is decidedly lacking in details. The burnt child is identified only as "Sandy" and other family members are not named at all. Moreover, there is no indication of the location of the Walmart where the fire supposedly took place or what hospital is treating the child. Nor does the message indicate when the incident was supposed to have occurred. Such vagueness is generally a deliberate tactic by the pranksters responsible for such callous hoaxes. The lack of checkable details makes it difficult for recipients to verify information about the supposed events described in such hoax stories. The AOL version of this hoax began hitting inboxes back in 2003. For the record, however, there are no credible news reports that back up claims in the message that such a devastating fire took place at a Walmart store at around that time. Years on, the hoax message continues to circulate with Yahoo replacing AOL in later versions.

People send on such hoax messages in the mistaken believe that they are providing help to a needy child or family by doing so. However, readers can rest assured that forwarding this message will help no one. Any message that claims an email is being tracked and that money will be donated for every forward is virtually certain to be a hoax and should not be forwarded.

An older version of the hoax:
A sister and her brother were inside the new Walmart built in town. The sister at six years of age, the brother seventeen years of age. The brother was fixing to buy a present for his little sister on her birthday, but as soon as they were fixing to leave she had to go to the bathroom. Her brother showed her where it was, he started to look at some earrings she would probably like for her next birthday. As he started to buy them he saw people running from the end of the store screaming and yelling with fear. Before he new it he smelled smoke and saw fire, he ran to his little sister as fast as he could but when he got to the bathrooms they were already on fire. He new he had to get out as fast as he could to get help. But when the firetrucks arrived it was already to late. Two days later the family got a call from the hospital saying they have someone there by the name of sandy. They asked "How did you get this number"? The hospital said she was holding a purse in her hand with a card that said her name and number on it. The family drove to the hospital to see thier little angel. While they looked at her, they noticed her arm was almost all the way burnt off, and her face was so burned it needed surgery. But the family didnt have enough to cover the bill.

So now the need you to help out!

Note: Every time you send this aol will take away $2.00 off the hospital bill.

DO NOT DELETE! AOL IS TRACKING THIS!


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References
Charity Hoaxes

Last updated: 21st May 2010
First published: 12th September 2004
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer