Hoaxes are becoming commonplace among internet mail, spam and phishing. While they are convincing, it will take network users working together to adequately inform those who are still emotionally responsive to these hoaxes. Hoaxes waste our time, emotional response and takes up an enormous amount of bandwith. How many times have relatives, coworkers, or friend’s forward seemingly helpful information? You may have recently received some of these most common hoaxes, now taking on legendary status:
* If you don't disinfect canned goods before opening them, you can get poisoned by residue from deadly rat droppings.
* A gang of kidnappers at malls and amusement parks (Disneyland used often) are abducting children, taking them into bathrooms, drugging them, dyeing their hair, changing their clothing, and smuggling them through exits disguised as the opposite sex. (This story was featured on episode of Law & Order, which helps keep this hoax alive.)
* If you use pancake mix beyond its expiration date, you and your family members risk a life-threatening allergic reaction from mold that can grow in it.
* Beware of car thieves in parking lots who render their victims unconscious with ether-laced perfume.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of earning “free” money by forwarding email. A recent twist was earning a $25 gift card from Applebee’s if you forwarded the email. The claim stated that after forwarding the particular message to multiple internet users, Appleby’s will present you with a gift card when you visit their restaurant. Now, what a absurd presentation to be face to face with an Applebee’s manager trying to explain how you earned a “free” gift card just by forwarding mail.
Some of the emotional “lost children- help find them” hoaxes are the most difficult to know if they are legitimate or just a fraud. This is a parent’s worst nightmare to have a missing child so the emotional plea draws many into believing the hoax. A fraudulent site will lack necessary information such as no mention of child’s height, eye color, or clothing description when they disappeared. Warning: Do not forward without doing your homework.
There are plenty of sites online that are simple to use to determine whether a missing child story is the truth. First an online search using a search engine with the child’s missing name, or subject line will be sufficient. An alternative is to use sites set up to combat these grand missing children hoaxes. Some of these sites are: Vmyths.com, Don’t Spread the Hoax, Hoax-Slayer, Breakthechain.com and Snopes.com (McAffey 2008, Goldsborough, 2006). When mail you are receiving is suspect, research it by going to Symantecs ComprehensiveList of Hoaxes at
This site lists the popular hoaxes including legends and dire warnings which continue to make their rounds online every day.
McAfee: How to avoid hoax emails. Retrieved February 7., 2008, from http://us.mcafee.com/root/identitytheft.asp?id=spam_hoax
Reid Goldsborough (2006, September). What to Do About Internet Hoaxes. Information Today, 23(8), 41-42.
Viruses, Spams Prevention,Uurban Legends, Hoaxes, Frauds. (2008). Retrieved February 7, 2008, from http://www.starr.net/is/hoax.html