An e-mail claiming to be raising money to save a kid dying of brain cancer claims you don't have a heart if you delete the message (no doubt it will have been stolen by a rampaging band of kidney thieves looking to branch out into new markets). Updated with a mutated version in December 2002.
When I was a kid, I told an outrageous lie: that my grade school principal was going to pay me .25 cents for each piece of garbage I picked up at the school. My parents immediately saw it for the fiction that it was.
Unfortunately, people on the net aren't quite so observant when it comes to heart-pulling e-mail scams such as this one, which promises that AOL will donate 5 cents for every email forwarded to treat an infant with brain cancer.
"Mommy ... it hurts!" Those words struck fear into the heart of Kevin Archer's mother ... but that fear was nothing compared to the horror she felt the next day when she found her son dead of a heroin overdose. The child had been playing in a McDonald's ball pit when a heroin-filled syringe had pierced his bottom, sending the deadly drug coursing through his veins.
It's a horrifying tale ... but it isn't real.
An e-mail claiming that a new patriotic Pepsi soda can had the words "Under God" striken from its design is a hoax.
Here's the set-up: a helicopter is raising a diver up out of the ocean when suddenly an immense great white shark jumps out of the water for a quick (and fatal) bite. It sounds like a scene from a movie (say Jaws II or Deep Blue Sea, and it seems to unbelievable to be real.
Fortunately for the diver and the helicopter, the photo is fake, and so is the story behind it.
An e-mail circulating the net claims that McDonald's has announced they are going to start importing most of their beef from South America.
It's a claim that's not true, although it is true that Mickey D's is testing the importation of small amounts of beef from Australia and New Zealand.
Here's the original e-mail:
Date Collected: June 19, 2002
Subject: FW: American Beef
An e-mail hoax is urging folks to find and delete the harmless "jdbgmgr.exe" file from their Windows-based computers. This self-induced minor labatomy kills the Java Debugger Manager -- which really is represenated by a teddy bear icon -- can cause certain Java applets (small programs in their own right) -- to act buggy.
An well-meaning email circulating on the net claims that coughing might just save your life if you're suffering a heart attack. The science behind it is questionable, and some sources say it could actually kill you.
An e-mail promising free Applebees gift certificates for forwarding it to your friends is a hoax. The e-mail is similar in spirit and syntax to a Cracker Barrel hoax that's also circulating.
And like that piece, the only thing this bit of annoying net-flotsam is good for is annoying your friends.
They're out there. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting to strike at a moments notice. They're renegade medical students, and they're hell bent on stealing your kidneys and selling them on the blackmarket! Or not. The infamous kidney thieves are a classic urban legend, transported on to the net and given new life in the 21st century.