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Monday, April 28, 2014

TOP Legends


Perhaps you should print this out. It will make great bathroom reading!

Claim: The cause of swelling in a girl's jaw is determined to be cockroach eggs she got from eating a Taco Bell taco or licking envelopes.

Status: False.


You'll never eat fast food again!

This girl was really in a hurry one day so she just stopped off at a Taco Bell and got a Chicken soft taco and ate it on the way home. Well that night she noticed her jaw was kind of tight and swollen.The next day it was a little worse so she went to her doctor. He said she was just have an allergic reaction to something and gave her some cream to rub on her jaw to help.

After a couple of days the swelling had just gotten worse and she could hardly move her jaw. She went back to her doctor to see what was wrong. Her doctor had no idea so he started to run some test. They scrubbed out the inside of her mouth to get tissue samples and they also took some saliva samples. Well they found out what was wrong.

Apparently her chicken soft taco had a pregnant roach in it that she ate!!!! The eggs then some how got into her saliva glands and she was incubating them in her mouth. They had to remove a couple a layers of her inner mouth to get all the eggs out. If they hadn't figured out what was going on the eggs would have hatched inside the lining of her mouth!

She's suing Taco Bell! Of course.



Claim: Photograph shows a shark attacking a British Navy diver.

Status: False.


Origins: Like thousands of other school-age American kids, in the summer of 1966 I eagerly made my way to the local movie theater for an afternoon screening of Batman, a feature-length film quickly put together to capitalize on the sudden, mammoth popularity of the television series (and to exploit the entertainment needs of millions of youngsters on summer break with no Internet, video games, VCRs, or cable television to keep them amused). What a treat to see Batman and Robin on the big screen in full color (we had only black-and-white TV at home), battling a confederacy of no less than four arch-villains!

BatMan and the exploding shark

One of the early scenes in that film stuck in my impressionable young mind — Batman, out on the water to reconnoiter a buoy, has to fend off the attack of a man-eating (and exploding!) shark, which sinks its teeth into the ladder from which the Caped Crusader perilously clings as he dangles beneath the Batcopter. When I viewed this same film on TV many years later, I couldn't help but laugh uproariously upon noticing that the terrifying sea creature I had breathelssly watched Batman pummel with life-and-death ferocity (and finally vanquish only with liberal application of Bat Shark Repellant) decades earlier was so obviously nothing more than a cheap, shark-shaped piece of plastic affixed to a ladder. (A few glimpses of this scene can be viewed in the Batman original trailer available on the Internet.)

Shark Attack

I had nearly the same reaction when readers started forwarding us the above photograph (usually credited to National Geographic magazine or Geo, a similar German-language publication, and mailed under titles such as "Really Bad Day!" or "Jaws 2001" or "Photo of the Year") back in August 2001 to ask if it were real. Alas, like Batman's attacker, it too is a fake, an image created by combining two real but unrelated photographs — a picture of a great white shark taken by South African photographer Charles Maxwell, and an Air Force photo of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from the 129th Rescue Wing, Moffett FAF (a California National Guard unit) snapped by Lance Cheung (with San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in the background):


Same Shark No helicopter

Claim: A 9-year-old girl named Penny Brown is missing.

Status: False.


[Collected on the Internet, 2001]

PLEASE LOOK AT PICTURE THEN FORWARD
I am asking you all, begging you to please, forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. My 9 year old girl, Penny Brown, is missing. She has been missing for now two weeks. It is still not too late, Please help us.

Penny Brown

If anyone anywhere knows anything, sees anything, please contact me at zicozicozico@hotmail.com

I am including a picture of her. All prayers are appreciated!!

It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on, if it was your child, you would want all the help you could get.

Please. thank you for your kindness, hopefully you can help us.



[Collected on the Internet, 2003]

Please pass this to everyone in your address book.

We have a store manager (Wal-Mart) from Longs, SC who has a 9 year old daughter who has been missing for 2 weeks. Keep the picture moving on. With luck on her side she will be found.

I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. My 9 year old girl, Penny Brown, is missing. She has been missing for now two weeks..

It is still not too late. Please help us. If anyone anywhere knows anything, please contact me at: zicozicozico@hotmail.com I am including a picture of her. All prayers are appreciated!! It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on. If it was your child, you would want all the help you could get.

Thank you for your kindness. Hopefully you can help us.
Origins: Penny Brown, the little girl who is evidently nothing more than the product of some prankster's imagination, is the longest-lived "missing child" hoax we have chronicled on this site. In all the time since the above-quoted plea to aid in the hunt for her began circulating on the Internet in mid-September 2001 rarely has the term "Penny Brown" dropped off our site's list of top searches even though there was never reason to place any reliance upon the message. None of the many missing children sites listed a Penny Brown among the youngsters they were looking for, and searched of news archives in the U.S. and Canada turned up no news reports about a missing child of this name.

Moreover, the e-mail itself provided few of the details that generally appear in legitimate pleas to help locate missing children. Not even the city or country the child went missing from was mentioned, and other than the pointless "has been missing for now two weeks," no date was given for the disappearance. ("For now two weeks" statements are entirely useless in a medium wherein undated text is circulated — the "two weeks" ago of an e-mail can and often has referred to events years in the past.) E-mail sent to the supplied contact address of zicozicozico@hotmail.com was bounced back to the sender.

Credible missing child reports tend to supply details of when and where the child was last seen, a description of the clothes worn, and phone numbers of people to contact about sightings. This e-mail lacked all of that — not even the parents' names were given.

(We don't know the identity of the girl in the accompanying picture, but the photo definitely isn't one of a young Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie TV fame.)

One version of the widely-circulated e-mail made it appear the plea was coming from Monzine Jang, a woman who worked for a physician at the University of Calgary. A call to the number provided in the e-mail fetched the following automated voice message:
If you are calling regarding an e-mail about a missing girl, please do not forward it as she is not the daughter of Monzine Jang. Monzine has contacted the Calgary police and missing children organization and she believes this is a hoax.
Another version claimed the frantic mother was Helen Bessenyei, a woman who lived in Australia. Helen had three grown sons, but no daughter, and certainly not a missing nine-year-old named Penny Brown. This hoax left her answering up to 150 e-mails a day and fielding hundreds of phone calls.

Yet another version purported to have come from a woman named Kimberly Leon. An additional version said the child went missing in Austin, Texas. And still another version claimed the child was lost in Ottawa, Ontario. Winning the "farthest away" category was a version that claimed the child went missing in Singapore.

Evern more iterations — these versions translated into French — were "signed" by Carol Toteda of Montreal or Anne-Claire Kubala, the latter giving an address that placed her in Paris. Also placing the tale in Canada was a version "signed" by Annie Lachance that asserted the missing Penny was the child of one of the store managers from Metro-Richelieu (a large grocery store).

Another form of this message that began "We have a store manager from Longs Drugs in Southern California, whose 9 year old daughter has been missing for 2 weeks" was signed "Peggy." Closely related to that version was another that said: "We have a store manager from Longs, SC who has a 9 year old daughter that has been missing for 2 weeks." It too has been signed by "Peggy." In yet another twist, the e-mail appeared signed by one "Penny Hill MS 59, Sunnyvale — AMD."

Those who are still somewhat convinced this e-mailed alert might be true should take a look at the text of the "missing kid" alert quoted in the Example section of our page about Christopher Mineo. In particular, note that the "It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on, if it was your child, you would want all the help you could get" line that is common to both.



Claim: Washing the lint filter in your clothes dryer can help extend the lifespan of that appliance.

Status: True.


Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2005]

Dryer

I had a wonderful morning, the heating unit went out of my dryer! Why does everything seem to fall apart this time of year!???

The guy that fixes things went in to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. We always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes. He told us that he wanted to show him something. He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. Now, this thing is like a mesh - I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like - WELL......the hot water just laid on top of the mesh!!! It didn't go through it at all!!!

He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh and that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there. He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that???!!!! Learn something new everyday!

I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that. So, thought I'd share!

Note:

I went to dryer and tested my screen by running water on it. The water collected a little but ran though the screen. I dried it off and was ready to put it back in the dryer since the water ran through it but, I thought was the heck it won't hurt to wash it while I had it out. Warm soap water and a nylon brush and I had it done in 30 seconds.

I then ran the water over the screen and what a difference the water just gushed through it with no puddling at all and this time I was running the water at a faster rate. That repairman knew what he was talking about.

Origins: There are a number of devices and appliances that have been standard household items in American homes since before most of us were born. Electric irons, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, gas (or electric) stoves and ovens, washing machines, and clothes dryers are but a few of the many labor-saving devices so familiar to many of us that we seldom ponder just how they work. Ask the average person, for example, how a clothes dryer works, and you'll probably get an "Are you kidding me?" look in return, along with a terse explanation that a dryer makes stuff "hot," and everybody knows stuff dries faster when it's hot.

That explanation isn't technically wrong (as far as it goes), but it's rather simplistic. Knowing a bit more about the process involved is the key to understanding why the advice to keep your dryer's lint filter clean can help improve the performance and lifespan of your clothes dryer.

In a standard (gas) dryer, a fan pulls fresh air into the dryer and sends it flowing over a gas burner. The burner heats the air, which is then channeled into a tumbling drum where the wet clothes are held. The heat, air flow, and tumbling motion all contribute to evaporating the moisture held in the fabrics, and that moisture is absorbed by the gas-warmed air. (Warm air is capable of holding more moisture than cold air.) The warm air — and the moisture it now holds — passes through a filter to trap lint and other particulate matter stirred up by its movement and is vented to the outside so that it can be replaced with new, less-moist air. This process repeats until enough moisture has been evaporated and carried away for the clothes to be considered sufficiently "dry."

Of course, if you neglect to clean the lint filter between dryings, or something else occludes the filter, moist air cannot be vented from the dryer as easily. The result will be that your dryer will work less efficiently — you will have to run your dryer longer to dry a load of clothes, which means higher electricity and gas charges for you and a shorter lifespan for your dryer.

So, keeping the lint filter clean is one simple way to increase the efficiency and lifespan (and decrease the operating costs) of your dryer. Just removing the lint from the filter isn't always enough — the fine mesh of most dryer filters can be clogged in ways that aren't obvious at a casual glance. As suggested by the piece quoted above, softener sheets can cause waxy build-ups on lint screens that require a little extra effort — usually no more than a quick scrub and rinse in warm, soapy water — to remove.

Many modern dryers also use moisture sensors rather than ordinary timed cycles, and residue from dryer sheets can coat the sensors and interfere with their ability to function properly. Cleaning the sensor screen with a little detergent and a soft brush, and wiping off the sensor itself with a cotton ball and some rubbing alcohol can rectify this problem.



Claim: Starbucks refused free product to G.I.s serving in Iraq, saying it didn't support the war and anyone in it.

Status: False.


Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Starbuck's

I have indeed confirmed the fact that Starbucks charged rescue workers $130.00 for 3 cases of bottled water on September 11, 2001, so the following info that was passed on to me would not be surprising to me at all!!

Dear everyone: Please pass this along to anyone you know, this needs to get out in the open. Recently Marines over in Iraq supporting this country in OIF wrote to Starbucks because they wanted to let them know how much they liked their coffee and try to score some free coffee grounds. Starbucks wrote back telling the Marines thanks for their support in their business, but that they don't support the War and anyone in it and that they won't send them the Coffee. So as not to offend them we should not support in buying any Starbucks products. As a War vet and writing to you patriots I feel we should get this out in the open. I know this War might not be very popular with some folks, but that doesn't mean we don't support the boys on the ground fighting street to street and house to house for what they and I believe is right. If you feel the same as I do then pass this along, or you can discard it and I'll never know. Thanks very much for your support to me, and I know you'll all be there again here soon when I deploy once more.

Semper Fidelis,
Sgt Howard C. Wright
1st Force Recon Co
1st Plt PLT RTO

Origins: We first encountered this story in late April 2004 when it turned up in our inbox. In these days of heightened patriotism and concern for the troops, any rumor about a corporate giant snubbing those who are putting their lives on the line overseas is bound to make a number of folks hot under the collar, which is what this e-mail has done.

We've been in touch with the e-mail's writer and have asked him about the events that led to his penning the note about Starbucks' response to Marines who had come to them looking for a donation of coffee. Sgt. Wright (who is stationed Stateside at the moment but who will be deployed overseas in the next few months), heard the story from a friend, who had gotten it from someone else. He talked things over with the Marine who had supposedly contacted Starbucks, and that, coupled with that night's televised news about the goings on in Iraq, made his blood boil. He pounded out his thoughts into the form of an e-mail, which he mailed to ten of his friends.

It is that e-mail which continues to circulate to this day. Sgt. Wright has since learned that what he heard was in error, and he has subsequently tried to set things right by issuing the following retraction:

Dear Readers,

Almost 5 months ago I sent an email to you my faithful friends. I did a wrong thou that needs to be cleared up. I heard from word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn't support the war and all. I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn't do my research properly like I should have. This is not true. Starbucks supports the men and women in uniform. They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many of their Company's policy on this issue. So I apologize for this quick wrong letter I sent out to you. Now I ask that you all pass this email around to everyone you passed the last one to. Thank you very much for understanding about this.

Howard C. Wright
Sgt USMC

Sgt. Wright has been unable to produce the reply his buddy supposedly received from Starbucks, and the folks at Starbucks deny engaging in any correspondence on such matter prior to this rumor coming along. Given that no copy of the letter appears to exist, neither one resting in the hands of the Sergeant's comrade, nor one residing in Starbucks' files, the rumor about the java vendor's harsh response to a coffee-hunting Marine should be dismissed.

As for what Starbucks has to say about the matter, while it doesn't directly refute the rumor on its web site, it does at least provide somewhat of an answer in e-mail. An excerpt from that statement reads:

Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside or overseas. We sincerely appreciate that they are willing to risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy. While Starbucks as a company cannot directly donate to military personnel, many of our partners (employees) show their support by donating coffee.

Starbucks partners receive one pound of free coffee each week as an employee benefit (known as "partner mark-out"). Many of our partners have elected to send their weekly mark-out of coffee to members of the military or military families, and related organizations. Our partners have collected and shipped numerous pounds of Starbucks coffee overseas.

As an example of this generosity, our partners in our Atascadero, California store sent their weekly mark out coffee to troops in Afghanistan so they are able to enjoy a little piece of home. Our customer relations department in Seattle donated hundreds of pounds of coffee to the sailors in the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group.

Under the terms of the Starbucks' corporate giving policy, had such a request been made, the coffee giant would have had to say no to it. Such a refusal would have been in keeping with the corporation's donations policy, in that Starbucks chooses to direct its charitable resources within the communities where its stores are located and limits its funding to non-profit organizations. Moreover, it does not consider requests for funding that come from political or religious organizations or which would fund political or religious initiatives or programs. According to the guidelines currently in place, a request for coffee from soldiers serving overseas would be turned down.

However, while it is true Starbucks as a corporate entity could not have donated coffee to java-seeking Marines, it would have passed along such a request to any number of its employees who are looking for military mailing addresses to send product to, as it has already done on many occasions. Starbucks partners receive one pound of free coffee each week as an employee benefit (known as "partner mark-out"). Many of them have elected to send their weekly mark-out to members of the military or military families, and related organizations.

The claim that Starbucks would ever have said "they don't support the War and anyone in it" is false, in light of what various news accounts show us about the coffee retailer's attitude towards those who serve in the armed forces. In addition to what Starbucks itself says above of its beneficences to soldiers, we know from different newspaper articles of other instances of glad-hearted support. In July 2004, a Starbucks in Cincinnati was reported to have been practically overflowing with people making yellow ribbons in support of Keith "Matt" Maupin, a soldier whose fate was then uncertain (it has subsequently been reported that he had been beheaded by his captors), along with red, white, and blue ones to show support for American troops in Iraq. In June 2004 in Cleveland, when the mother of one serviceman called her local Starbucks to arrange for the shipping of some java to her son, the employees at that store insisted on paying for 30 pounds of coffee as their gift.

Regarding another of the claims made in the e-mail, while it is true someone working at a New York City Starbucks did indeed charge ambulance workers $130 for three cases of water on September 11, 2001, it would not be quite fair to say Starbucks did this. However, act of a single, misguided employee or not, the corporation alone bears responsibility for afterwards spurning a number of opportunities to offer the rescue workers their money back or apologize to them — though it finally took both those actions, it did so only after the story attracted online and print media attention.

In addition to the "rescue workers charged for water" and the "spurned servicemen" story that is the focus of this piece, Starbucks has been the butt of a number of other unsavory rumors and mistaken beliefs just in the past few years, including:
A 2002 poster promoting two new iced drinks prompted some consumers to see in it reminders of the hijacked planes hitting the twin towers.

In 2001, a false story spread in e-mail about the wife of the owner of a Thailand Starbucks telling non-white customers the coffee shop was not for Asians.

The company's 2003 termination of its business interests in Israel caused some to believe Starbucks had abandoned that nation in favor of being able to continue to do business in Arab countries.

In 2002, a prankster who scanned and distributed online a coupon entitling the bearer to a free Crème Frappuccino caused any amount of bad feeling to be directed at the company — those duped into believing they were entitled to free product were often angry at the stores who refused to honor the fake coupons rather than with the unnamed person who had deceived them.

Starbucks, like any other successful corporation that has a strong public presence, is fated to operate with the Damocles sword of public opinion hanging above its head. No corporation can fund everyone who comes to it looking for assistance, which means some deserving groups will always be refused. In less emotionally-charged times, the logic of such a policy is better understood, but the current climate makes it a dicey PR proposition at best to say no to anything having to do with soldiers.




Claim: E-mail chronicles various ways scammers might obtain your credit card numbers.

Status: Possible, but not common.


Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Credit Cards

Good Information

This was just passed on to me. Seems to make a lot of sense. IT COULD CERTAINLY HAPPEN TO ME EASILY ENOUGH......

SCENE 1: A friend went to the local gym and placed his belongings in the locker. After the workout and a shower, he came out, saw the locker open, and thought to himself, "Funny, I thought I locked the locker. Hmmmmm."

He dressed and just flipped the wallet to make sure all was in order. Everything looked okay — all cards were in place. A few weeks later his credit card bill came — a whooping bill of $14.000! He called the credit card company and started yelling at them, saying that he did not make the transactions. Customer care personnel verified that there was no mistake in the system and asked if his card had been stolen. "No," he said, but then took out his wallet, pulled out the credit card, and yep, you guessed it, a switch had been made. An expired similar credit card from the same bank was in the wallet. The thief broke into his locker at the gym and switched cards.

Verdict: The credit card issuer said since he did not report the card missing earlier, he would have to pay the amount owed to them. How much did he have to pay for items he did not buy? $9,000! Why were there no calls made to verify the amount swiped? Small amounts rarely trigger a "warning bell" with some credit card companies. It just so happens that all the small amounts added up to big one!

SCENE 2: A man at a local restaurant paid for his meal with his credit card. The bill for the meal came, he signed it, and the waitress folded the receipt and passed the credit card along. Usually, he would just take it and place it in his wallet or pocket. Funny enough, though, he actually took a look at the card and, lo and behold, it was the expired card of another person. He called the waitress and she looked perplexed. She took it back, apologized, and hurried back to the counter under the watchful eye of the man. All the waitress did while walking to the counter was wave the wrong expired card to the counter cashier, and the counter cashier immediately looked down and took out the real card. No exchange of words — nothing! She took it and came back to the man with an apology.

Verdict: Make sure the credit cards in your wallet are yours. Check the name on the card every time you sign for something and/or the card is taken away for even a short period of time. Many people just take back the credit card without even looking at it, thinking that it has to be theirs.

FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, DEVELOP THE HABIT OF CHECKING YOUR CREDIT CARD EACH TIME IT IS RETURNED TO YOU AFTER A TRANSACTION!

SCENE 3: Yesterday I went into a pizza restaurant to pick up an order that I had called in. I paid by using my Visa Check Card which, of course, is linked directly to my checking account. The young man behind the counter took my card, swiped it, then laid it flat on the counter as he waited for the approval, which is pretty standard procedure. While he waited, he picked up his cell phone and started dialing. I noticed the phone because it is the same model I have, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Then I heard a click that sounded like my phone sounds when I take a picture. He then gave me back my card but kept the phone in his hand as if he was still pressing buttons. Meanwhile, I'm thinking: I wonder what he is taking a picture of, oblivious to what was really going on. It then dawned on me: the only thing there was as my credit card, so now I'm paying close attention to what he is doing.

He set his phone on the counter, leaving it open. About five seconds later, I heard the chime that tells you that the picture has been saved. Now I'm standing there struggling with the fact that this boy just took a picture of my credit card. Yes, he played it off well, because had we not had the same kind of phone, I probably would never have known what happened. Needless to say, I immediately canceled that card as I was walking out of the pizza parlor.

All I am saying is, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Whenever you are using your credit cards, take caution and don't be careless. Notice who is standing near you and what they are doing when you use your card. Be aware of phones because many have a camera phone these days. When you are in a restaurant and the waiter/waitress brings your card and receipt for you to sign, make sure you scratch the number off.

Some restaurants are using only the last four digits, but a lot of them are still putting the whole thing on there. I have already been a victim of credit card fraud and, believe me, it is not fun. The truth is that they can get you even when you are careful, so don't make it easy for them.

FORWARD THIS TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN THINK OF. LET'S GET THE WORD OUT!

Origins: The item quoted above is another example of a "crime warning" message that is difficult to classify as either true or false. The scenarios it describes are possible, and someone, somewhere, might very well have been victimized by them, but on the other hand the message provides no details of time, place, or person, to use in verifying these tales, and the scenarios proffered are generally too implausible to be of much legitimate concern to the average person.

The first two entries describe scammers who supposedly switch expired credit cards for valid credit cards, thereby enabling them to run up thousands of dollars in charges before the victims realize their cards are missing. This isn't a scheme likely to be successful in most cases, for a number of reasons:
Not all credit cards look alike. Common credit cards such as VISA and MasterCard vary quite widely in appearance, featuring different logos (based upon the issuing financial institutions), different colors of plastic, and even different (customer-selected) background designs. For this scenario to work, the putative thieves would have to carry around a plethora of different styles of cards and hope to hit a long shot by coincidentally matching one of their cards to a victim's particular card.

The deception will be obvious the next time the victim uses (or, presumably, even looks at) his card, which doesn't give the scammers much time to try to run up a huge charge on the stolen card via many small purchases. Contrary to the claim made above, most credit card issuers will flag as suspect thousands of dollars' worth of charges made on a credit card within a short period of time, even if none of those charges is for a large amount.

No explanation is offered for how these scammers supposedly come by their handy supply of expired credit cards. Most customers discard their expired cards by throwing them into the trash, usually after having cut them in two (or otherwise mutilated them).

Frankly, if you're habitually leaving your wallet unattended in an easily-opened locker, you've got a lot more to be concerned about than potential visits from card-swapping scammers.

The third scenario covers a situation we've already written an article about, that of identity thieves supposedly snapping pictures of credit cards with cell phone cameras. This scheme too is possible but implausible, since:
It's still quite difficult (given the quality of cell phone cameras, the reflectiveness of plastic credit cards, and the usual lack of contrast between the colors of a card's imprinted numbers and its background) to quickly snap off a clear photo of a credit card.

Taking a picture of the front of a credit card won't capture the CVC2 or CVV2 security code required for most CNP (i.e., "card not present") purchases. (American Express, however, is an exception to this; its security code is printed on the cardface.)

Retail clerks and others who typically handle customers' credit cards in the course of business transactions have many, many ways of recording card numbers that are better and easier (and less obtrusive) than literally pointing a camera at a card and taking a picture of it.

The admonition to "take caution and don't be careless" with your credit cards is generally sound, but then again, it's also rather obvious advice that applies to just about every aspect of life.




Thousand Dollar Bill


Claim: You can receive any of the following rewards from various companies by simply forwarding an e-mail message to your friends:


Cash from Microsoft
Free merchandise from Nike
Free trip for two to Walt Disney World or $5,000 cash from Disney
Free clothing from the GAP
Free computers from IBM
$25 gift certificates from Abercrombie & Fitch
$25 gift certificates from Old Navy
$50 gift certificates from J. Crew
Free cases of M&Ms from Mars
$25 gift certificates from Outback Steakhouse
Free cars from Honda
$50 gift certificates from Bath & Body Works
Free CDs from Columbia House
Free cases of soda from Coca-Cola
Cash from AOL Time Warner
Cash from EMI
Free cell phones from Nokia
Free cell phones from Ericsson
$50 gift certificates from Victoria's Secret
Cash from the Newell Co.
Cash from RH Power Inc.
$50 gift certificates from Cracker Barrel
Free champagne from Veuve-Clicquot
$50 gift certificates from Applebee's
Cash from Bill Gates

Status: False.

Origins: No, you're not going to be receiving money, merchandise, or free trips from Bill Gates (or anyone else), no matter how many people you forward this message to. Tracing all recipients of an e-mail message is not yet technically possible, and even if it were, Bill Gates certainly wouldn't be testing software that performed such tracking by blindly sending messages out to the Internet with a promise of financial reward to the recipients.

First and foremost, e-mail tracking programs do not exist. That folks continue to fall for myriad varieties of these leg-pulls is in part attributable to netizens having caught so many references to these non-existent programs that the new hoax is able to continue building on an already partially-constructed platform of belief.

(As with every other technological issue, the statement "e-mail tracking programs do not exist" becomes less and less true every day. It is possible in some cases to determine who has read a particular mail message, but there is no method of doing so that will work with all the myriad of e-mail programs out there or keep track of who forwarded the message to whom.)

Once again, e-mail tracing programs do not exist. Any "get something free" come-on or "help a sick kid" appeal which specifies an invisible program is keeping track of who received an e-mail and who it was then sent to is a hoax. Any such note. No exceptions. Not even ones not yet listed on this page.

Likewise, missives which offer no explanation of how the e-mails are being tallied are also hoaxes. Unless you are e-mailing a copy to a central tabulating point every time something is forwarded on, nothing is being counted, traced, tracked, or any other verb that would result in you getting free cargo pants from the GAP or inspiring an unnamed millionaire to donate just a little bit more towards the care of an injured child.

With all that said, we can begin looking at the various forms this jape has so far taken. And it's going to be a long, strange journey indeed.



Claim: Commentator Andy Rooney explains his political views.

Status: False.


Examples: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]

BRAVO ANDY ROONEY!!!!

Right on, Andy Rooney!

Andy Rooney said on 60 minutes a few weeks back: (for those of you that don't know Andy Rooney, he is an 82 year old US TV commentator)



I like big cars, big boats, big motorcycles, big houses and big campfires.

I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some governmental stooge with a bad comb-over who wants to give it away to crack addicts for squirting out babies.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game.

I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason, that is why there are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts!

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.

I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers. The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America.

Try to have things like the United Caucasian College Fund, Cloud Magazine, White entertainment Television, or Miss White America and see what happens. Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.

I have the right NOT to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off. When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling, it is the law of statistics.

I know what sex is, and there are not varying degrees of it. If I received sex from one of the subordinates in my office, it wouldn't be a private matter or my personal business. I would be "FIRED" immediately!

I believe that if you are selling me a milk shake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen you should have to speak English!

My father and grandfather shouldn't have to die in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours. I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass if you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the word "freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above lines.

I feel much safer letting a machine with no political affiliation recount votes when needed. I know what the definition of lying is.

I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business. We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document and open to their interpretations.

I don't hate the rich. I don't pity the poor.

I know wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television, and that doesn't stop you from watching them.

I believe a self-righteous liberal or conservative with a cause is more dangerous than a Hell's Angel with an attitude.

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that's better and put your name on the building. Ask your buddy that invented the Internet to help you.

It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid and smack their little ass when necessary and say "NO."

I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don't pretend they are a political statement. And . . . Please stay home until that new lip ring heals, I don't want to look at your ugly infected mouth as you serve me french fries!

I am sick of "Political Correctness" and of all the suck ups that go along with it. I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa, so how can they be "African-Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European-American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe. I am proud to be from America and nowhere else.

And if you don't like my point of view, tough!

Andy is 83 and entitled to his opinion.

Origins: Curmudgeonly 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney may have delivered a vituperative essay on French politics in 2003, but this piece elaborating on his own politics is not his creation. The text quoted above is too reactionary even for the acerbic Rooney, and the language used doesn't sound like him. ("Shoot your sorry ass" just isn't the kind of phrase Andy Rooney employs on television.) Just to be thorough, we checked the transcripts of all of Andy Rooney's 60 Minutes pieces from the last ten years, and nothing like this item turned up.

Moreover, Rooney himself denied it in 2003, saying:
About a year ago, I became aware of a more serious theft of my name and it is so hurtful to my reputation that it calls for legal action against the thief. Hundreds of people have written asking if I really wrote the 20 detestable remarks made under my name that have had such wide circulation on the Internet.

[...]

Some of the remarks, which I will not repeat here, are viciously racist and the spirit of the whole thing is nasty, mean and totally inconsistent with my philosophy of life. It is apparent that the list of comments has been read by hundreds of thousands of Americans, many of whom must believe that it accurately represents opinions of mine that I don't dare express in my column or on television. It is seriously damaging to my reputation.
The final two items on the list are probably a good tipoff that either this collection was written (by an as yet unidentified author) as a parody of the "A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney" spots on 60 Minutes, or someone appended Andy Rooney's name to an unattributed piece because it "seemed like something he would say." Either way, whoever created this version appears to have lifted some parts from an earlier piece known as "Yes, I Guess I am A BAD American" and falsely credited to comedian George Carlin.



Virus: Life is Beautiful.pps

Status: Hoax.


Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

This information arrived this morning, from Microsoft and Norton. Please send it to everybody you know who accesses the Internet.

You may receive an apparently harmless email with a PowerPoint presentation called "Life is beautiful.pps."

If you receive it DO NOT OPEN THE FILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, and delete it immediately.

If you open this file, a message will appear on your screen saying: "It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful", subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC and the person who sent it to you will gain access to your name, email and password.

This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon. WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO STOP THIS VIRUS.

AOL has already confirmed its dangerousness, and the antivirus Softs are not capable of destroying it. The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself "life owner", and who aims to destroying domestic PCs and who also fights Microsoft in court! That's why it comes disguised with extension pps. He fights in court for the Windows-XP patent.

MAKE A COPY OF THIS EMAIL TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS.

Origins: This warning about a Microsoft PowerPoint file named "Life is Beautiful" carrying a a computer-destroying virus is a hoax, one that has been with us since at least January 2002. It originally circulated in Portuguese but was later translated into English and a host of other languages.

Although this particular example is a hoax, PowerPoint presentations can contain viruses, so prudent computer users should always check downloaded or e-mailed PowerPoint presentations (and all other non-text attachments) before opening them.

In September 2002 this hoax was circulated anew as "Everything is Beautiful," and it popped up again in 2003 re-titled as "Life is Wonderful."

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