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TIGHTWAD SCAMS & FLIM FLAMS

Rate Your E-mail Gullibility What to Do:

Some time ago, I got an e-mail from a friend of mine that told me about a new e-mail system that was being tested.  My friend had forwarded an e-mail that explained how the CEO of Disney had joined with Microsoft's Bill Gates, to test a system that would track e-mail and determine who was getting messages.   The companies were offering people that forwarded the e-mails a voucher for a free trip to Disneyland.  All I had to do was send the e-mail to everyone on my e-mail mailing list.  Since my friend is a very reputable person and has a high level of integrity, I believed the e-mail and sent it right along!  Much to my surprise, another friend wrote back with an explanation to that e-mail and a way to solve the problem in the future.  Turns out, I didn't just have egg on my face, I had a whole yucky omelet!

Here's a similar e-mail: 
From: name removed)>
To: Gullible2@hotmail.com (name removed)
CC: (names removed)
Subject: Check this out quickly and respond!
Date: Sun, 07 Nov 1999 22:10:11 EST

Subject: Fw: Check this out quickly and respond!

I am forwarding this because the person who sent it to me is a very professional business person and a good friend and does not send me junk.

Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet company and in an effort make sure that Internet explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test. When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period.

For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.

I thought this was a scam myself, but two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on, Microsoft contacted me for my e-mail and within days, I received a check for $24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can afford this Bill Gates is the man. It's all marketing expense to him.
Do Well!

One of the more obvious errors of this message include that fact that AOL and Netscape, NOT AOL & Microsoft are now partners, but variations of this message are all over the internet.

If you get the volume of e-mail that I get, you must be spending a considerable amount of time dealing with various issues, the worst of which happens to be what are now being called "modern urban myths" Our gossip ridden society is just ripe for these kinds of beauties and with the demand, comes a heaping supply of straight faced geekazoid e-liars.  The best phony e-mail was about a man that woke-up in a bath tub full of ice and learned that his kidney was stolen. Foreign disreputable medical students are suspected. Everyone swears that it's true. Don't take a free drink from anyone, it might be a "Mickey Finn." 

Here's the e-mail: 

> From:     (name removed)
> Sent:     Monday, September 27, 1999 12:57 PM
> To:        (name removed)
> Subject:     FW: Kidney thieves
VERY SCARY... READ
This story came from the "DailyTexan" -- the University of Texas newspaper.   Apparently it occurred during Fall Premier-a, UT tradition that is a celebration of the end of midterms. "Reason not to party anymore" This guy went out last Saturday night to a party. He was having a good time, had a couple of beers and some girl seemed to like him and invited him to go to another party. He quickly agreed and decided to go along with her.  She took him to a party in some apartment and they continued to drink, and even got involved with some other drugs (unknown to which). The next thing he knew, he woke up completely naked in a bathtub filled with ice. He was still feeling the effects of the drugs, but looked around to see he was alone. He looked down at his chest, which had "CALL 911 OR YOU WILL DIE" written on it in lipstick. He saw a phone was on a stand next to the tub, so he picked it up and dialed. He explained to the EMS operator what the situation was and that he didn't know where he was, what he took, or why he was really calling. She advised him to get out of the tub. He did, and she asked him to look himself over in the mirror. He did, and appeared normal, so she told him to check his back. He did, only to find two 9 inch slits on his lower back. She told him to get back in the tub immediately, and they sent a rescue team over.  Apparently, after being examined, he found out more of what had happened. His kidneys were stolen. They are worth $10,000 each on the black market. (I was unaware this even existed.)

Several guesses are in order: The second party was a sham, the people involved had to be at least medical students, and it was not just recreational drugs he was given.   Regardless, he is currently in the hospital on life support, awaiting a spare kidney. The University of Texas in conjunction with Baylor University Medical Center is conducting tissue research to match the sophomore student with a donor. I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans.  The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the workday. A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers is sipping that drink, until they wake up in a hotel room bathtub, their body submerged to their neck in ice. There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911. A phone is on a small table next to the bathtub for them to call. The business traveler calls 911 who have become quite familiar with this crime. The business traveler instructed by the 911 operator to very slowly and carefully behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their lower back. The business traveler finds the tube and answers, "Yes." The 911 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the business traveler's kidneys have been harvested.

This is not a scam or out of a science fiction novel, it is real. It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful. Sadly, this is very true. My husband is a Houston Firefighter/EMT and they have received alerts regarding this crime ring. It is to be taken very seriously. The daughter of a friend of a fellow firefighter had this happen to her. Skilled doctor's are performing these crimes! (which, by the way have been highly noted in the LAS VEGAS area). Additionally, the military has received alerts regarding this. This story blew me away.  I really want as many people to see this as possible so please bounce this to whoever you can.

Michele Shafer - DML/Lab Administration Medical Manager
Research &Development
XXXXX N.W. 99th Street
Alachua, Florida 32615
Tel. (XXX) XXX-2148
Fax (XXX) XXX-1505

Is this not one of the scariest things you have ever heard of? PLEASE forward this to everyone you know.

Marie Washington
Customer Support Admin
COMPAQ
Phone #: XXX-XXX-4803 Fax #: XXX-XXX-1100
EMail: XXXWashington@compaq.com

These yarns could cover the earth with a world wide net of deceit.  None of them are true.  Mean time, You're looking at a stream of useless time wasting e-mail gullibility gaffs. Here's my solution, so you'll never be caught again.  Check the links that detect the e-manure being electronically squished in your direction. And don't believe everything you read.  Especially on the internet!
-Richard James

What to do if you get an e-mail or hear a report about a deal that's too good to be true or a warning that requires your action :

1)  Don't believe anything just because it was generated by technology.

Electronic e-mail is no more accurate than any other source in the world.  Consider anything to be false gossip that is not directly from the actual person or event.  Apply the same standard as a court would against hearsay evidence. "friend of a friend" statements can not be submitted in court for good reasons.  People love to repeat information and almost never check to see if it's true.

2) Check with the sender to validate the e-mail

Many times phony messages are not even sent by the apparent sender.  Most pranks have forged headers and signatures, and when you try to verify the validity of the message, you will find that the address is not valid. If it's a forwarded message from a friend, check to see if they really know anything other than message text. If not, then don't forward.

3)  Don't give greater faith to any media reports.

Television, radio, newsprint and even e-commerce have one thing in common: They are a business. They are designed to make as much money as possible. Don't misunderstand their motivation:
  A) Media time constraints and competition are severe, so on occasion they don't check facts.
  B) Media appear more accurate then they actually are because media sources NEVER retract their own mistakes with the same intensity that they report them.  So if a front page false story is printed with big bold print, then you can rely on the fact that the retraction will be in tiny small print on the back page.
  C) Media sources are frequently receptive to "flash over substance" making stories entertaining but not necessarily accurate.   Unlike most professions today, most "western" media reporters are not governmentally required to uphold any standards and are not required to be certified or educated in any way.  The only enforceable exceptions are civil slander charges, labor standards like OSHA, and transmission standards, like the FCC rules.  Just because George Carlin can now repeat the seven words you can't say on television, doesn't mean you need to look, listen or believe any particular media source. 

4) Take a moral stand. 

Remember Sunday school? Sorry to remind you, but the ninth commandment (Exodus 20:16) says "You shall not bear false witness" That's a pretty clear moral instruction against lying or repeating a false story.

5) Check the sources.

Use the following links to check out facts before stepping in obnoxious e-manure and spreading it all around.

.

LINKS TO URBAN MYTHS & VIRUS HOAXES

Snopes.com Urban Legions Reference Pages
Excellent & Extremely well researched site with sources, citations, & explanations. Huge data base of material.
Start your search here!

Urban Myths.com
Nice looking site with fun information on myths & scares.

Non Profit Net Hoax Page
A good effort worth reading

Computer Virus Myths
"Mundus vult decipi"
(the world wants to be deceived) Home page for site below
http://kumite.com/myths/myths/
This is a very nicely done site on virus hoaxes... A few stabs at virus company scares too.

Stiller Research Virus Hoaxes
Large list of various virus hoaxes

Symantic Virus Hoax Page
McAfee Virus Hoax Page
Dr Solomon's Virus Hoax Page
DataFellows Hoax Warning
Corporate Anti Virus Hoax Pages are generally very inclusive.

Computer Incident Advisory
(Dept. of Energy USA)

Fair US Government Site

Evaluating Research Sources
Learn how not to be burned

SPECIFIC HOAXES
Disney/Gates E-mail Money
Kidney Theft Exposed
Christmas Hoaxes

HOLIDAY TRUTH
The Truth About Santa

SPECIFIC SCAMS
E-bay Auction Scams

FRAUD HELP
Consumer Fraud
Telemarketing Consumer Site


Green Ribbon - Responsibility In Free Speech

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