The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Email Hoaxes
Rectoscalar Wave — Here's a strange email hoax that reportedly is spreading around India: Tonight a rectoscalar wave is passing at 10.25 pm, Indian Standard Time.... This causes damage in mobiles and computers..... So switch off your mobiles and computers at the specified time... This has been published in todays The Hindu paper also.... Keep fwd this message to your friends and loved ones..... Is there even such a thing as a rectoscalar wave? I did a google search and didn't pull up anything.…
Posted: Wed Nov 03, 2004.   Comments (19)

Safe and Secure — Here's an amusing email that's making the rounds: I want to thank all of you! To all my friends and family, Thank you for making me safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy by sending me your chain letters over the last year. Because of your concern: I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains. I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans. I no longer drink anything out of a can…
Posted: Fri Oct 08, 2004.   Comments (18)

Simpsons House Hoax — According to News.com.au an email has been circulating around Australia claiming that the town of South Morang has built a replica of the house where the Simpsons live. On the cartoon, Homer and Marge live on 742 Evergreen Terrace, and South Morang does have an Evergreen Drive. Apparently many Simpsons' fans have been spotted driving aimlessly around South Morang searching for the house. Unfortunately for these fans, the replica house doesn't exist. The email is a hoax. But if you're a…
Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2004.   Comments (16)

Hoax and Virus Card Game — Computer Beast is the name of the first ever card game based on computer viruses, worms, and hoaxes. I'm not quite sure how you play, but it involves cards that depict famous viruses such as the Sasser virus, or hoaxes such as Bonsai Kitten or the Bill Gates Fortune hoax. The game has been out in Germany for a while, but the English version is set to debut later this year. I'll definitely have to try to get my hands on one of these.
Posted: Thu Sep 30, 2004.   Comments (1)


Irish Personal Ads — A collection of Irish personal ads, supposedly culled from the Dublin News, is doing the email rounds. They're in the genre of Brutally Honest Personal Ads (I've reported on examples of this genre before). In this case, I'm guessing that the ads, if they really did appear in the Dublin News, were meant to be tongue-in-cheek (though I haven't seen the paper, so I can't really tell). But whatever the case may be, they're definitely quite funny. Here they are: Heavy drinker, 35, Cork…
Posted: Tue Aug 17, 2004.   Comments (5)

Test Your Phishing IQ — MailFrontier offers a short test that allows you to determine how easily you would fall for a phishing scam. I only got a score of 70%, so evidently I'm not as fraudproof as I thought.
Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2004.   Comments (13)

PayPal Class Action Suit — A study by an anti-spam firm called MailFrontier found that, on average, 28% of computer users are fooled by email scams. But intriguingly, 20% of users misidentify legitimate emails from companies such as PayPal as scams. This becomes relevant because a lot of people recently received an email informing them of the possibility of joining a class-action suit against PayPal (I got one of these emails in my inbox this morning). The suit is real. The email is legitimate. But quite a few…
Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2004.   Comments (5)

Origin of the Bill Gates Email Hoax — Displaying some very impressive sleuthing skills, Jonathon Keats has apparently solved the mystery of the origin of the ubiquitous Bill-Gates-will-pay-you-to-forward-this-email hoax. He writes about it in an article in Wired. He traced the origin of the hoax back to November 18, 1997 when Iowa State student Bryan Mack was sitting in a campus computer lab and created the first version of the email as a joke that he sent to a friend sitting beside him. It read: "My name is Bill Gates.…
Posted: Wed Jun 30, 2004.   Comments (29)

Hoax Warning — Here's the latest hoax warning that's going around via email. Actually, it may be quite old, but I've only come across it recently. So here it is: I hate those hoax warnings, but this one is important! Send this warning to everyone on your e-mail list. If someone comes to your front door saying they are conducting a survey and asks you to take your clothes off, do not do it.!!! This is a scam; they only want to see you naked. I wish I'd gotten this yesterday. I feel so stupid and…
Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004.   Comments (5)

Terror Email Hoax — A lot of people in New York have been getting an email warning them not to ride the subways this Friday because terrorists may be planning a big attack. It's your typical I-heard-it-from-a-friend-of-a-friend nonsense, laced with a liberal helping of numerology (Friday being 6/11, WTC attack 9/11, Madrid bombing 3/11), plus bogus information (the city hasn't ordered a couple thousand extra body bags). You can read the full email over at Gawker. The New York City Police insist that they…
Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004.   Comments (0)

Phishing Scam Example — A Phishing scam is... well, I'll just let the webopedia define it because I'm too lazy to write a definition myself. Phishing is "the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security,…
Posted: Fri Jun 04, 2004.   Comments (2)

UPS Uniform Hoax — Mark wrote to let me know that the UPS Uniform Email Hoax is making the rounds again (the corporate security at his office thoughtfully forwarded it to everyone he works with). This hoax is an old one, going back almost two years. Basically the email claims that terrorists managed to purchase $32,000 worth of UPS uniforms on eBay, so everyone should have their eyes out for phony UPS employees delivering packages. The latest version of the message has the fake signature of a Homeland…
Posted: Thu May 20, 2004.   Comments (3)

Strunkenwhite or Pluperfect Virus Hoax — This particularly nasty virus will infect your computer and not allow you to send out any emails that contain grammatical or spelling mistakes. The scary thing is imagining that someone would receive this and not recognize it as a joke.
Posted: Thu May 13, 2004.   Comments (2)

Swiffer Wet Jet Pet Rumor — Teresa wrote in to ask about the truth of that email rumor going around alleging that the Swiffer Wet Jet cleaning fluid contains antifreeze and can be fatal to pets (you can read the full text of that email rumor here). Swiffer itself addresses this rumor on its corporate website, so it can be pretty easily debunked. It's totally false. But since I'm on the subject of Swiffers, I've got to note something about them that I find incredibly annoying... how you can only use Swiffer brand…
Posted: Mon May 10, 2004.   Comments (124)

Will the real Ella Schultz please stand up? — Ella Schultz, an elderly black woman living in Kentwood, Michigan, is quite the emailer. Over the past year she's been shooting off emails to teachers, school administrators, and even a few journalists. But it turns out that Ella isn't actually real. The person actually sending those emails was Edward Kape, a Kentwood Board of Education member (who has now resigned). Or at least, he was one of the people using 'Ella Schultz' as their nom de plume. He insists there were others, though…
Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2004.   Comments (5)

Ground Control to Major Abacha Tunde — The Register has posted a great Nigerian Bank Scam email that it received. I get these emails all the time, and typically they come from people claiming to be either relatives of (or bankers of) deposed third world leaders who have huge amounts of money trapped in a bank account somewhere. They need your help to move the money out of the country. But this email that the Register received claims to come from a relative of a Nigerian astronaut trapped in space. He has a huge amount of…
Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2004.   Comments (0)

New Retirement Plan — My wife received this note in an email at work. Sadly, even though it's a joke, the advice it offers seems quite sensible: New Retirement Plan: If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00. With Enron, you would have $16.50 left of the original $1,000.00. With WorldCom, you would have less than $5.00 left. But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of Beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling…
Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2004.   Comments (2)

Google Launches Gmail — Google has announced a new email service called Gmail, that will give each user one gigabyte of free storage. Strangely, the press release is dated April 1, leading many to speculate that it's an April Fool's Day joke. Maybe it is, but if so it would seem a very odd one. Usually April Fool's Day jokes involve a certain minimum level of wit, and you should feel foolish for believing them once you find out they're a joke. But if someone were to tell me that Gmail is a joke, I wouldn't…
Posted: Thu Apr 01, 2004.   Comments (11)

More Spam on April 1st — Makers of network security software are warning that there may be an increase in spam leading up to April Fool's Day. "Spammers are expected to use subject lines such as "great joke," "free jokes," "prank," or "April fools" to entice users into opening attachments that carry viruses or objectionable content, potentially putting company networks at risk."
Posted: Tue Mar 30, 2004.   Comments (0)

The Irish Virus hoax — This is just dumb. You receive an email with the following message: Greetings, You have just received the "IRISH VIRUS". As we don't have any programming experience, this Virus works on the honour system. Please delete all the files on your hard drive manually and forward this Virus to everyone on your mailing list. Thank you for your cooperation. I think I've seen other versions of it that attribute it to other ethnicities/social groups. There's more info about it over at symantec.com.…
Posted: Sat Feb 21, 2004.   Comments (5)

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