by Mark Tarses

I get so many hoax e mails, that I decided to make up this list of the ones I get most often.

1. The Hoax: Have you ever received an e mail like this: "Warning! If you get an e mail message containing the words "Free Software" in the title, don't read it! It contains a virus. If you read that e mail, it will wreck your computer!"

The Truth: There are a lot of computer viruses around, and new ones keep popping up all the time, but your computer cannot get a virus just by reading an E Mail. There has never been a documented case of a computer that got a virus solely by opening or reading an E Mail.

However, you can get a virus by opening an attachment to an E Mail. I trash all e mail attachments unless I know who they came from AND what they contain. Even then, I trash most of them unopened anyway. Also, never run a program or open a link from someone you don't know.

2. The Hoax: "Little Matilda Yakobovsky (age 10) is dying from leukemia. She would like to receive 1,000,000 sympathy e mail messages before she dies."

The Truth: Dying children do not need or want sympathy chain letters from strangers, clogging up their mailboxes and crippling their computers!

3. The Hoax: "Forward this message to everyone you know!"

The Truth: There is no reason to forward any message to everyone you know. If you get an E Mail that advises you to "forward this message to everyone you know", no matter what the message says, it is a hoax, and someone is trying to make a fool out of you.

4. The Coca Cola Hoax: "Don't drink Coca Cola in cans! There are rat droppings on the lids that can kill you!"

The Truth: Many E mail hoaxes claim that people have died from drinking canned soft drinks with rat droppings on the lids. These stories are all hoaxes. Cans of all major brands of soft drinks are boxed or shrink wrapped in plastic film as soon as they are made.

5. The Proctor & Gamble Hoax: "Proctor & Gamble is run by The Church of Satan. The P&G logo containing a crescent moon and stars is proof of their Satanic connection."

The Truth. Proctor & Gamble is NOT run by The Church of Satan, and P&G sues people who spread this hoax. The P&G logo contains 13 stars and the Man in the Moon. This is not a Satanic symbol. The Man in the Moon was a very popular advertising image in the U.S. in the late 1800's when P&G started business. There are 13 stars because the first U.S. flag contained 13 stars.

6. The Kidney Theft Hoax: According to this old legend, a man is drugged and wakes up many hours later in a bathtub of ice with one of both of his kidneys stolen.

The Truth: Removing a kidney for transplant is a complex operation requiring a team of surgeons and a large medical staff. It cannot be done by just cutting a open someone's side and pulling out a kidney. Besides, even if someone did steal a kidney, what would he do with it? There is no black market for stolen kidneys, and no hospital is going to put a kidney from an unknown source into a patient.

7. The Microsoft Hoax: "Forward this e mail message to 1,000 people, and Microsoft will send you a free computer! Wow!"

The Truth: Bill Gates didn't get where he is by giving away computers! You won't get a free computer, computer software, cash rebates, product discounts, or anything else by forwarding E Mail. There is no way for anyone to count the number of times that an e mail message has been forwarded.

8. The Hoax: Forwarding E Mail messages for charity:

The Truth: No one will get anything by forwarding e mail.

  • No charity will get any money by forwarding E mail messages.
  • No dying child will get money, drugs, or a free operation by forwarding E Mail.
  • Communist revolutionaries in Peru are not going to release Catholic nuns whom they have kidnapped and plan to murder unless they get 1,000,000 E Mail messages pleading for mercy.
  • Islamic terrorists are not going to stop suicide bombings in Israel by forwarding them E Mail messages asking them to 'cool it.'
  • PBS (public television) will not get money or matching funds from any corporation, government agency, or wealthy individual by forwarding E Mail.

    9. The E Mail Tax Hoax. "Congress plans to tax E Mail messages! Write to your congressman (or forward this e mail), telling him that you oppose this tax!

    The Truth: The Federal government has no plan to tax E Mail and never has had any such plan. Don't forward mesasges to the FCC, the Post Office, or your congressman opposing such a tax.

    For a list of vastly more common E Mail hoaxes, go to "Puportal."

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