Consumer Fraud Reporting

Reporting on the Latest Frauds, Scams, Fake Lotteries, Spams and Hoaxes

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Email Chain Letters and Hoaxes

Have you receive an email warning you that your plastic water bottle could cause cancer?  The email probably looked like this:

"Many are unaware of poisoning caused by re-using plastic bottles. Some of you may be in the habit of using and re-using your disposable mineral water bottles (eg. Evian, Aqua, Ice Mountain, Vita, etc), keeping them in your car or at work. Not a good idea. In a nutshell, the plastic (called polyethylene terephthalate or PET) used in these bottles contains a potentially carcinogenic element (something called diethylhydroxylamine or DEHA). The bottles are safe for one-time use only; if you must keep them longer, it should be or no more than a few days, a week max, and keep them away from heat as well. Repeated washing and rinsing can cause the plastic to break down and the carcinogens (cancer-causing chemical agents) can leach into the water that YOU are drinking. Better to invest in water bottles that are really meant for multiple uses. This is not something we should be scrimping on. Those of you with family - to please advise them, especially children."

If you are the type who likes conspiracy theories, or believes that anything man-made must be bad...well, then you probably believed this hoax as well.

There is no scientific evidence that reusing plastic bottles can lead to cancer. The type of plastic (PET) used in water bottles has been used for years in drinking bottles, and has been tested, reviewed and approved by health agencies, research institutions and others worldwide.

The chemical referred to in the email, DEHA, is not even considered to be a human carcinogen and is not considered to pose any significant health risk to humans.

Apparently, this hoax originated with a real Master's thesis from a student at the University of Idaho.  Of course, the media, published and hyped the students paper... but that's all it was: a students paper: not bona fide, credible research. 

Of course, if you reuse a plastic bottle, you have to be careful to clean it out because bacteria could grown in there.  This is true whether the bottle is made from plastic, glass, aluminum, or whatever!

And to those conspiracy theorists nuts, if you doubt our word, you probably wouldn't believe the American Cancer Society, either, who also agrees that this is nonsense (see this article on their website).

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

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Names used by scammers in the examples on this page and others often belong to real people and businesses who often have no knowledge of nor connection to the scammer's use of their name and information.  Sample scam emails and other documents are copies of the scam to help potential victims recognize and avoid it.  You should presume that any names used and presented here in a scam are either fictitious or used without their legitimate owner's permission.
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