Email Hoaxes: How to tell if that email is real or a fake

Email Chain Letters and Hoaxes

The utter gullibility of many people never ceases to amaze our staff. The range of hoax emails stretches from innocuous jokes that hurt nothing but the pride of the sucker who responds, to nasty-grams that contain computer viruses and worms.

Click on the links at the left for information about chain letters, fake emails that contain viruses and more.  For current cases, see below:

  • 90# Turns your telephone over to someone else. This is a hoax, verified by BellSouth and AT&T. 90# does not allow someone to make charges to your telephone.
  • Bill Gates: This $1,000 or "send you to DisneyWorld Microsoft" for a  "test of email" is one of the longest running hoaxes we have seen. It is being sent with comments, those that tried it, a list of people who are participating on some of them Bill Gates is not going to give you $1000 and a free copy of Windows 98 to "test it." or send the first 1,000 people who forward the emails to all their friends to DisneyWorld. Please tell us you're not THAT stupid to believe this!!!!
  • How Budweiser handles those who laughed at those who died on 11 Sept 2001 - It starts out with "Thought you'd like to know what happened in a town north of Bakersfield California. Let others in our nation and people around the world will know about those who laughed when they found out about the tragic events in New York, PA and the Pentagon."  And it's another fake.
  • Budweiser Frog
    This has been floating around in various versions. Here are three versions. There are many others and to see them all and learn more about hoaxes and myths, go to:
  • Chain Emails-Many come from "The Netherlands." We never, ever forward them, and oddly, everyone at ConsumerFraudReporting is doing very well!
  • FCC is going to raise the local internet rates!!!!! No, they're not. Similarly, there is no plan to tax email: The U. S. Postal service has published a disclaimer on their website. This one includes a disclaimer by 'The Washingtonian' . If you search the U. S. House of Representatives Web site you get hundreds of links addressing this hoax.
  • Girl with Cancer - There is no Jessica Mydek. There is no Jean Ann Linney. Or ANY OTHER NAME.  Get over it people.  REAL agencies and real people don't send out emails to the world begging for help. The telephone and fax numbers are inoperable. There have been so many inquiries the American Cancer Society has made this statement regarding the fraudulent Jessica Mydek Chain Letter and other emails. This statement may be copied or reprinted by online users The American Cancer Society is greatly disturbed by reports of fraudulent chain letters.
  • Neil Armstrong: Good night, Mr. Grosky  - A great story, a great joke, but not true at all. This one has been floating around so long people are starting to believe it is true. It is not true. Here it is, completely false but reprinted for your entertainment:
  • Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe - Boy, you are really gullible if you believe this one. It has been floating around the internet for over five years. The department store never had a cookie recipe, no one was ever charged $250 in error, and Visa may make mistakes, but this certainly isn't one of them.
  • Plastic drinking water bottles cause cancer hoax - Gullible or ignorant, it doesn't matter, some people will believe anything they hear, especially if it involves cancer. 

  • Pen Pal Greeting or Join the Crew - It used to be true that you cannot get a virus from reading email. Now they can embed viruses into images and especially with links that take you back to a website.  You can definitely get a virus from downloading an executable file, such as one with a .exe or .dll at the end of its title. So DON'T download any file with any executable nature, unless you know who it is from. This particular virus warning, Pen Pal Greeting or Join the Crew, is a hoax.  However, if you do not keep your browser (Netscape, Firefox or Internet Explorer) up to date, a virus can enter your system.

  • How Stanford Started
    This one has been really circulating, making the rounds. It seems everyone who sends it to me believes it is true. It is another hoax.
  • Make-a-Wish Foundation: send business cards to Craig Sheford Hoax
    This was actually often received by snail mail. A client of a major computer company requested this be sent not only by email, but U.S.Mail. So they did. They mailed the letter to all their clients to send their business cards so the dying boy could get into the Guinness Book of Records. There never was a Craig Sheford. Don't be fooled if it is another name, it is the same chain letter hoax.
  • Correct Your Email Address
    Wrong. This is a method to "confirm your email address", so the Spammers can sell it to others as "confirmed." You add your name, rather than "remove" it.
  • "Nutra Sweet" gives you cancer
  • Missing Children, tsunami and hurricane victims: Christine Schmidt and others - Missing Child. I confirmed with the police department that the girl was found ( July 11, 1997 ) one day after she was lost . This has been circulating for almost two years. The police would really be delighted if this were no longer being circulating. I recived this on March 25, 1999 with more than five hundred email address before this message. Before you pass on anything on the Internet, please verify it. Especially if it is almost two years old.
  • Needle in Movie Theater Chair - This has been around as long as I can remember. While it sounds plausible, it is made up.
  • Elf Bowl - A very popular Christmas game making the rounds. It does not contain a virus that pops up at Christmas. It is a very good game. Don't be afraid of it. Send the person who sent you the hoax a piece of coal for Christmas.

And if you want to see the humorous side of hoax emails, read the spoof of the bubble-boy scams.

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