with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Hoaxes, Rumor Mills, Chain Letters, and Online Trash

Make money now! Send this email to 10 people in the next 5 days…! Boycott X! Did you know you can die from soap scum? Be terrified. Be warned! Be afraid! Be happy! Spread the good word! Share with your friends! Tell everyone you know! Excuse me, before we get too carried away here, STOP!

If you get email from anyone, including friends or relatives, that promotes get rich, forward this email, or offers some terror or warning, STOP. Take a moment and breath. This is not the end of the world. In fact, the email itself might be more horrible than the warning or information included. These are all part of the unrecognized SPAM (unwanted email) spreading across the Internet like a plague. They are part of the rumor mills, chain letters, and hoaxes that litter the Internet and email inboxes around the world. Before you click the forward button, check out the information to see if it is real first. And stop the spread of online litter.

Here are a few examples of the most popular and recent hoaxes going around. Remember, these are lies, made up stories, totally fake, and not real.:

  • On September 11, 2000, Daisy the dog saved over 1000 people from the World Trade Center.
  • A legal looking email tells you that if your surname matches the name of some dead wealthy person living overseas, you may have just inherited millions of dollars. “If you respond and confirm this email, we will send you more information…”
  • Hotmail, the free email acount service by Microsoft, is shutting down because too many people are applying for accounts.
  • Emails claiming to be from Visa, MasterCard and other popular credit cards and financial institutions want you to visit “their Website” to stop from losing your credit privileges or to inform you that there has been fraudulent use of your credit card. If you respond, it asks you to confirm your personal information including your credit card data.
  • Many changing rooms and public restrooms are using two-way mirrors to peek and spy on you. Using your fingernail, you can test the mirror to tell if it is a real mirror or a two-way mirror to prevent “visual rape”.
  • Signing up with the “National Do Not Email Registry” will stop spam and unwanted email. [Currently, there is no such registry and never has been]
  • A man is suing CBS, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake for an on-air incident involving the exposure of one of Ms. Jackson’s breasts. Steve Bosell of Corona, California has filed a lawsuit claiming that the incident left him physically ill, induced vomiting, psychologically scarred his children and has ruined sexual relations with his wife.

All of these are completely fake, hoaxes, rumors and lies! Honestly, before you hit the foward button, check it out. You can start more aggressively with one or more of the Websites listed below that specifically deal with the rumor mills and hoaxes going around the Internet. And trust me, they repeat on a regular basis. We keep seeing the same hoax going around warning you to search your computer for a specific file and delete it because it is a virus, when the file is actually part of your operating system and you just screw up your computer all by yourself without the help of an email virus.

Be warned and don’t trust even the most helpful of friends and family – check first!


  • Posted May 23, 2005 at 21:27 | Permalink

    The “fingernail test” is an urban legend. The only time that actually works is if the two way mirror is installed backwards by accident. Instead, you should use a flashlight or laser pointer. If you can see the light pass through the mirror, you know it’s a two way mirror. Otherwise, it’s a standard one-way mirror.


  • Posted May 24, 2005 at 6:28 | Permalink

    As stated, all of the above “myths” are false, so you are very right.

  • Posted July 4, 2006 at 23:43 | Permalink

    Yeah, I’ve received some of those chain letters. Usually the best idea is to ignore them. Sometimes the prolific ones get reported to Snopes or other such sites, so that people may be made aware of them.

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