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  • Antiforward #6

    Subject: E-mail hoaxes


    Subject: This could be real, read on...


    NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO GIVE YOU *ANYTHING* FOR
    FORWARDING AN E-MAIL MESSAGE TO ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS.

    I don't care what you might have heard from other people. YOU CAN'T GET
    SOMETHING FOR NOTHING, and you certainly can't get something for
    simply forwarding an e-mail to all of your friends.

    I am and you would be,  surprised at how many people still believe
    that these silly "forward an e-mail to all of your friends and
    something great will happen" hoaxes are true. What follows is the truth
    about many of the 'e-mail forwarding' hoaxes I have received over
    the past couple of weeks. Look close at these -- you'll notice a
    distinct
    pattern:

    - Honda is *NOT* going to give you a free car for forwarding an
    e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - The newly merged Microsoft and AOL is *NOT* going to give you
    money for forwarding an e-mail message to all of your friends
    [and, even sillier, not only have Microsoft and AOL *NOT*
    merged -- US antitrust laws would prohibit such a merger -- but
    Microsoft and AOL are BITTER ENEMIES!]

    - No one is actually going to "hop on the Bus" if you forward
    this e-mail message to three of your friends. :P

    - Old Navy is *NOT* going to give you a free $25 gift card for
    forwarding an e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - M&M's is *NOT* going to give you a free case of M&Ms for
    forwarding an e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - Abercrombie & Fitch is *NOT* going to give you a free gift
    certificate for forwarding an e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - The Gap is *NOT* going to give you free cargo pants and
    Hawaiian shirts for forwarding an e-mail message to all of your
    friends. [This one is my favorite!]

    - IBM is *NOT* going to give you a free computer for forwarding
    an e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - Microsoft is *NOT* going to give you free money for forwarding
    an e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - Microsoft is also *NOT* going to give you a free copy of
    Windows 98 for forwarding an e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - Microsoft and Disney are *NOT* going to give you a free trip to
    Disney World for forwarding an e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - Nike is *NOT* going to give you free shoes for forwarding an
    e-mail message to all of your friends.

    - The Guinness Book of World Records is *NOT* going to add your
    name to their book for forwarding an e-mail message to all of your
    friends.

    - Some billionaire is *NOT* going to make a donation to a dying
    child in return for your forwarding an e-mail message to all of your
    friends.

    - Some cancer or disease society is *NOT* going to make a
    donation to a dying child in return for your forwarding an
    e-mail message to all of your friends. [In fact, every one of
    the Net's "dying kid" stories is an outright hoax ... NOT ONE has been
    true.]

    - Some stranger is not going to magically cause a really neat
    movie to pop-up on your screen in return for your forwarding an
    e-mail message to all of your friends.

    Did you notice an underlying theme in all of these? FOLKS, NO ONE IS
    EVER GOING TO GIVE YOU *ANYTHING* FOR SIMPLY FORWARDING AN E-MAIL
    MESSAGE TO ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS! (Gee, where did we hear THAT before?)

    What should you do if you receive an "e-mail forwarding" message that
    doesn't appear on our list? Should you forward the message to all of
    your friends on the off chance that it just might be true? Of course
    not. Regardless of how the message is written, it is still a hoax.

    One way to keep up with Net hoaxes and urban legends, especially the
    myriad of e-mail forwarding hoaxes, is to bookmark and frequently visit
    both:

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/

    http://www.snopes.com/

    The other way to keep up with Net hoaxes and urban legends is to start
    looking for patterns in these hoaxes. All e-mail virus warning hoaxes
    follow the same pattern. All "forward an e-mail to all of your friends
    and something great will happen" hoaxes also follow a pattern, as do
    all of the "dying kid" hoaxes.


    FROM CONSUMER REPORTS

    Tech Life

    You've got flim-flam!

    How to deal with e-mail hoaxes

        Have you received an e-mail message like this one? "I am writing this
    article to request something for a terminally ill boy. Craig Shergold is
    a seven year old boy who has terminal cancer. His ambition before he dies
    is to be included in the Guinness Book of Records as having the largest
    collection of business cards.  My request is that EVERYONE who reads this
    posting send at least one business card to him."
        If you thought about sending a card, you fell victim to a hoax.
        A real Craig Shergold did request greeting cards while suffering from
    cancer in 1989, but he's now a healthy college student who has tried
    without success to stop the hoax.
        No one knows who started it, but it's tenacious. The Make-A-Wish
    Foundation, whose address appears in the message, has received so many
    business cards that its web site steers away people who want to help
    Shergold, warning that staff time and resources are being diverted from
    helping children in need.
        As the number of people using e-mail has skyrocketed, so have the
    number of hoaxes, rumors, and "urban legends." Here are a few:
        * Unwary travelers can be tranquilized and have their kidneys stolen.
    No, says the National Kidney Foundation.
        * The government found the AIDS virus on needles planted in pay
    telephones. Not so, according to the national Centers for Disease Control
    and Prevention.
        * There's a vicious new computer virus afoot. Perhaps the oldest and
    best known is the Good Times hoax, which claimed: "If you get anything
    called 'Good Times', don't read or download it. It is a virus that will
    erase your hard drive." Panicky users have kept this one going for five
    years.
        * An e-mail message circulating recently urged the recipient:
    "Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people everyone
    on the list will receive $1000 at my expense. Enjoy. Your friend, Bill
    Gates." Gates, the billionaire chairman of Microsoft, has publicly called
    the offer nonsense.

    What's the harm?

        There are a number of reasons for caution when you receive an
    unconfirmed e-mail.
        You'll  waste others' time.  If you forward a hoax message or do what
    it asks, it means someone else has to spend time dealing with the
    message. If the hoax involves a major institution, it could impede other
    work. The National Kidney Foundation, for example, is concerned that the
    kidney-theft hoax will affect people's willingness to become organ
    donors.
        You'll cause panic.  Warning friends about an unfounded threat
    disrupts their lives and spreads fear.
        You'll slow the Internet.  Suppose that you forward one message to 15
    people, and that each of them forwards it to 15 others, and so on.  Just
    four generations of the process can produce more than 50,000 e-mail
    messages. Circulating your e-mail address to large numbers of strangers
    can also increase the amount of junk e-mail you receive.

    How to spot a hoax

        Most e-mail hoaxes include at least one of the following:
        * A dire warning or very attractive offer that plays on your fear,
    greed, or sympathy.
        * Credibility by reference to a government agency, a major
    institution, or a well-known individual.
        * The use of technical language that most people probably won't
    completely understand.
        * A request that you forward a copy of the e-mail, often to everyone
    you know.
        A hoax will often contain no dates in the message itself and will
    name no real individual to contact. You may also find rows of ">>" before
    every line, which shows how many people have passed the message along.
        Hoaxers may "spoof;" or falsify a return address, making the message
    appear to come from a legitimate source. You can try to validate an
    e-mail message by contacting the apparent sender, requesting
    identification.
        Some hoaxes claim to be able to track how many times you forward an
    e-mail to friends, but in fact there is no technology for doing this on
    the Internet.
        Some hoaxes may warn that an e-mail virus can destroy the contents of
    your computer. But only a program attached to an e-mail message can do
    that. That's why you should never open an e-mail attachment unless you're
    sure you know what it contains.
        The best protection against viruses distributed by e-mail is
    virus-checking software, such as McAfee VirusScan or Norton AntiVirus,
    $30 to $60 if not included in the software supplied with the computer.
    Whenever you receive a suspicious e-mail, delete it or try to check its
    validity at one of the web sites listed below.

    Hoax watchers

    ICSA Hoax Information
    (an Internet security company)
    http://www.icsa.net/services/consortia/anti-virus/alerthoax.shtml

    Computer Virus Myths Home Page
    http://www.kumite.com/myths

    Department of Energy
    Computer Incident Advisory Capability
    http://ciac.Ilnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html

    Expert Guide to Urban Legends
    http://www.urbanlegends.about.com

    San Fernando Valley Folklore Society's Urban Legends Reference Pages
    http://www.snopes.com


    CONSUMER REPORTS DECEMBER 1999 page 65