Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield  
Years before rumors and hoax messages began to appear on Mirabilis's ICQ, e-mail was, and still is, the most common means used to spread false information. On this page you will find examples of some of the most common e-mail hoax letters. Some are mildly amusing while others are just plain deceptive.

 We Do Chicken Genetically Manipulated Organisms Right

This is Very Disturbing - This was sent to me so I'm just sharing the information.

KFC has been a part of our American traditions for many years. Many people, day in and day out, eat at KFC religiously. Do they really know what they are eating? During a recent study of KFC done at the University of New Hampshire, they found some very upsetting facts.

First of all, has anybody noticed that just recently, the company has changed their name? Kentucky Fried Chicken has become KFC. Does anybody know why? We thought the real reason was because of the "FRIED" food issue. It's not. The reason why they call it KFC is because they can not use the word chicken anymore. Why? KFC does not use real chickens.

They actually use genetically manipulated organisms. These so called "chickens" are kept alive by tubes inserted into their bodies to pump blood and nutrients throughout their structure. They have no beaks, no feathers, and no feet. Their bone structure is dramatically shrunk to get more meat out of them. This is great for KFC because they do not have to pay so much for their production costs. There is no more plucking of the feathers or the removal of the beaks and feet.

The government has told them to change all of their menus so they do not say chicken anywhere. If you look closely you will notice this. Listen to their commercials, I guarantee you will not see or hear the word chicken. I find this matter to be very disturbing. I hope people will start to realize this and let other people know.

Please forward this message to as many people as you can. Together we make KFC start using real chicken again.

Why do we have to make KFC start using real chickens again? I had KFC for dinner tonight and those genetically manipulated organisms aren't bad. They "taste just like chicken" and if it keeps the price down then I'm all for it. There was a brief awkward moment when I ordered a "chicken sandwich" and the gal at the counter corrected me with "You mean a KFC sandwich, sir?" I winked and said "Oh, yes... I meant to say a KFC sandwich."

I included this hoax e-mail (you knew it was a hoax, right?) simply because it amused me. It has all the hallmarks of a hoax... the evil corporate conspiracy, the authoritative sounding reference to a university study and, of course, the plea for grassroots action by forwarding "this message to as many people as you can." It plays on the concerns that have been raised over genetically altered produce and from a theoretical standpoint is almost plausible. However, that is a very big "almost." Two things about this hoax jumped out at me immediately as I read it for the first time. The first was that if the University of New Hampshire had really done a study such as this I wouldn't be hearing about it for the first time in a forwarded e-mail... it would have made the front page of the newspaper and CNN's Headline News. This is true of many hoaxes, if they were real the media would jump all over them. That alone convinced me this was a hoax, but then when it went on to say "I guarantee you will not see or hear the word chicken" in KFC's advertising I thought "then what's that stuff they keep saying they do right?" One thing is for sure, the person who wrote this doesn't do rumors right... it fell apart from the start. However, as far as rumors go, it was amusing. Had the author implicated McDonalds' burgers I may have been inclined to believe it. *g*

Follow-up links:
The Official KFC Site
University of New Hampshire rebuttal

 Don't You Wish They Would Tax Rumors?

Subject: Government interference with e-mail

Very important please read...then write your congressman and senator. Or better yet email then too.
Please read the following and pass it on to everyone you know:

Dear Internet Subscriber:

Please read the following carefully if you intend to stay online and continue using email: The last few months have revealed an alarming trend in the Government of the United States attempting to quietly push through legislation that will affect your use of the Internet. Under proposed legislation the US Postal Service will be attempting to bilk email users out of "alternate postage fees". Bill 602P will permit the Federal Govt to charge a 5 cent surcharge on every email delivered, by billing Internet Service Providers at source. The consumer would then be billed in turn by the ISP. Washington DC lawyer Richard Stepp is working without pay to prevent this legislation from becoming law. The US Postal Service is claiming that lost revenue due to the proliferation of email is costing nearly $230,000,000 in revenue per year. You may have noticed their recent ad campaign "There is nothing like a letter." Since the average citizen received about 10 pieces of email per day in 1998, the cost to the typical individual would be an additional 50 cents per day, or over $180 dollars per year, above and beyond their regular Internet costs. Note that this would be money paid directly to the U.S. Postal Service for a service they do not even provide. The whole point of the Internet is democracy and non-interference. If the federal government is permitted to tamper with our liberties by adding a surcharge to email, who knows where it will end.

You are already paying an exorbitant price for snail mail because of bureaucratic efficiency. It currently takes up to 6 days for a letter to be delivered from New York to Buffalo. If the US Postal Service is allowed to tinker with email, it will mark the end of the "free" Internet in the United States.

One congressman, Tony Schnell (R) has even suggested a "twenty to forty dollar per month surcharge on all Internet service" above and beyond the government's proposed email charges. Note that most of the major newspapers have ignored the story, the only exception being the Washingtonian which called the idea of email surcharge "a useful concept who's time has come" March 6th 1999 Editorial) Don't sit by and watch your freedoms erode away!

Send this email to all Americans on your list and tell your friends and relatives to write to their congressman and say "No!" to Bill 602P.

Kate Turner Assistant to Richard Stepp, Berger, Stepp and Gorman
Attorneys at Law 216 Concorde Street, Vienna, Va.

It's the action, not the fruit of the action that's important. You have to do the right thing...You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result. (Gandhi)

I wonder what Gandhi would have said about passing false information to all your friends without checking the facts first. And what are the facts? Well...

  • The U.S. Postal Service has nothing to do with taxing or regulating the Internet.
  • There is no Congressman by the name of Tony Schnell.
  • Nor is there a "Bill 602P." In fact, a Senate bill would be called S. 602 and a House bill would be H.R. 602.
  • There is no law firm by the name of Richard Stepp, Berger, Stepp and Gorman.
  • The Washingtonian never wrote an editorial about e-mail taxes, they didn't even put out a March 6th issue.
  • This e-mail is almost identical to one claiming the Canadian government was proposing to tax e-mail (also a hoax).
I'll admit that at first glance this rumor almost looks plausible, which is why you should stop, think and research before you forward a chain e-mail. You say you don't have time to research all these chain letters? No problem, just use the delete key, that will take even less time than forwarding and I promise that you'll be doing the right thing at least nine out of ten times. So, don't sit by and watch your brain cells erode away... think before you forward!

The U.S. Postal Service denys this rumor:

"A completely false rumor concerning the U.S. Postal Service is being circulated over the Internet via e-mail."

"The e-mail message claims that a 'Congressman Schnell' has introduced 'Bill 602P' to allow the federal government to impose a 5-cent surcharge on each e-mail message delivered over the Internet. The money would be collected by Internet Service Providers and then turned over to the Postal Service."

"No such proposed legislation exists. In fact, no 'Congressman Schnell' exists."

The Washingtonian responds.

 A Modem Tax? Not Even Close


This is something that should be of concern to all of you.

Please read and repost as much as you can everywhere to try and stop this as it will be a death blow to freedom in America as the Internet is America's connection of the common people and we will have none if we can't afford long distance charges... CNN stated that the Government would in two weeks time decide to allow or not allow a Charge to your phone bill equal to a long distance call each time you access the internet.

The address is http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Please visit the address above and fill out the necessary form!

If EACH one of us, forward this message on to others in a hurry, we may be able to prevent this injustice from happening!

New website where you can contact ALL the Congressmen and Representatives

Fill out the form and you just press "send." Put this in your bookmarks for future reference. Let the people be heard!!!

http://www.in-search-of.com/frames/government/files/ mail_by_demand.hts?6

Please send this to everyone you know and post to all lists as soon as possible! Time is running out!!! Adding long distance charges to the internet would interfere with our right to free speech, as a great mass of people could no longer afford it.

A little investigation reveals that while CNN did run a story about this and in fact the FCC has been looking into a "reciprocal compensation" plan for local telephone companies, this does not mean consumers would be paying long distance charges for accessing local ISPs. You can read the FCC's Fact sheet on this matter at:


The real danger of spreading false rumors such as these (besides creating needless worry) is that they cloud the real issues facing the future of the Internet. If the first 99 "warnings" you receive are false then what are the chances that you will believe the 100th... the one that turns out to be true? It is a case of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" in the Information Age. Sadly, our ability to choose an ISP (Internet Service Provider) is at risk. Click here for details about a threat that is all too real.

 Big Brother Bill Will Pay To Track Your E-mail

Subject: Please forward this!

This is no joke. Forward this to everyone you know ASAP I had to clean up a lot of junk just to pass it on.


FROM: GatesBeta@microsoft.com
ATTACH: Tracklog@microsoft.com/Track883432/~TraceActive/On.html

Hello Everyone,

And thank you for signing up for my Beta Email Tracking Application or (BETA) for short. My name is Bill Gates. Here at Microsoft we have just compiled an e-mail tracing program that tracks everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. It does this through an unique IP (Internet Protocol) address log book database.

We are experimenting with this and need your help. Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 1000 people everyone on the list you will receive $1000 and a copy of Windows98 at my expense. Enjoy.

Note: Duplicate entries will not be counted. You will be notified by email with further instructions once this email has reached 1000 people. Windows98 will not be shipped until it has been released to the general public.

Your friend,
Bill Gates & The Microsoft Development Team.

Bill Gates wants to track our e-mail? Am I the only person on the net unwilling to exchange my right to privacy for a quick grand and a second rate operating system? Never mind that this is, to use Bill's word, a bunch of "hooey"... I'm really shocked that so many people have forwarded this e-mail without even thinking about what the consequences would be if it were true. Would you really like Bill Gates or anyone else tracking who you communicate with? Do you realize how many good men and women have died in wars to protect you from just this sort of thing, and you would trade their sacrifice for some cash and software? For two grand would you let him install cameras in your bedroom? How about loudspeakers blaring out propaganda messages like "Microsoft will set you free?" I know you just wanted to take a long shot at a quick $1,000... but people, you really scare me sometimes when you don't think these things through. Oh alright, I'll get off my soap box now.

The good news is no one has ever signed-up to test any e-mail tracking software because it doesn't exist. The bad news is Bill isn't gonna give you one cent of his billions no matter how many people you forward this to.

 A Goofy Offer From The Son Who Never Was

Did I hear someone say they are going to Disney World? Being a Floridian, I love that place. But don't start packing your bags just yet (unless you just won the Super Bowl).

Disney message & $5,000.00

Apparently this is true and worth a shot!!!



I called Disney my damn self. It's no lie. GET IT DONE!
    owe me.


If you read below you will see the note from Walt Disney Jr. & Management at Disney World. Basically if this messages reaches 13,000 people, everyone will receive $5,000.00 or a free, all expenses paid, trip to Disney World in anytime during the summer of 1999.

See the note below - its worth it!!!!

Everyone is to resend to 15 individuals. Please read and forward to as many friends as possible...we've checked up on this and this is no joke of a chain letter or something if this reaches 13,000 people...duplicate entries don't count, though...So, please help & pass on... thank you, and here you go!!!

Hello Disney fans,
And thank you for signing up for Bill Gates' Beta Email Tracking. My name is Walt Disney Jr. Here at Disney we are working with Microsoft which has just compiled an e-mail tracing program that tracks everyone to whom this message is forwarded to. It does this through an unique IP (Internet Protocol) address log book database. We are experimenting with this and need your help. Forward this to everyone you know and if it reaches 13,000 people, 1,300 of the people on the list will receive $5,000, and the rest will receive a free trip for two to Disney World for one week during the summer of 1999 at our expense. Enjoy.

Note: Duplicate entries will not be counted. You will be notified by email with further instructions once this email has reached 13,000 people.

Your friends,
Walt Disney Jr., Disney, Bill Gates, & The Microsoft Development Team.

Woo hoo! We're all going to Disney World, compliments of Bill Gates and Walt Disney's son. Wait a second, Walt Disney's son? Old Walt didn't have any sons, only daughters. You don't suppose he named one of them Walt, Jr., do you? Naaa... that would be a pretty Mickey Mouse thing to do, even for Walt. But what about the person who called Disney his "damn self" and claims "It's no lie"? Here's a clue for you, 99.9% of the time when you see words to the effect of "this is not a lie"... it's a lie.

Well, so what if it is a lie, what harm can it do to forward it to all your friends? Okay, imagine one of the people you send it to thinks it is true because they trust your judgment, and as a result they tell their kids that they are going to Disney World. Can you picture the tears in those kids' eyes when they find out they aren't going anywhere? Are you prepared to fork over five grand so their little hearts won't be broken? In other words, will you take responsibility for your actions?

And to the person who wrote "we've checked up on this and this is no joke of a chain letter" I can only say I hope you fall face down in a big pile of Goofy droppings, because this chain letter doesn't have a single word of truth in it and you knew it.

 No Wonder You Never Win Anything


If you receive an email titled "WIN A HOLIDAY" DO NOT open it. It will erase everything on your hard drive. Forward this letter out to as many people as you can. This is a new, very malicious virus and not many people know about it.

This information was announced yesterday morning from Microsoft; please share it with everyone that might access the Internet. Once again, pass this along to EVERYONE in your address book so that this may be stopped.

But what if you really did win a holiday? Maybe I was wrong and Walt did name one of his daughters "junior." Okay, so you probably didn't win a holiday, but it is just as unlikely you are going to get a virus just from "opening" an e-mail. Note, I said "opening" an e-mail, not "running" an attached file. There is a big difference and the contents of your hard drive could be at risk if you don't understand what the difference is. A virus is just a program, which is a set of instructions telling your computer what to do. Before those instructions are carried out, the program must be allowed to run (ie. executed, launched, etc.). So if you get a program sent to you and you're not sure what it is, don't run it. I've described viruses and trojans elsewhere on this website and I don't want to repeat myself here. I also don't want to hear from people who, despite having no clue how computers or viruses work, will try to argue with me that they "heard" somewhere that warnings like this one are true. Instead at the end of this page I will provide you with links to some excellent virus myth sites that are maintained by experts who will basically tell you the same things I would. I won't send you to any site that is trying to scare you into buying their anti-virus software. Be a little wary of places like that. Fortunately there are some very knowledgeable people out there who will share their wisdom with you without trying to stick their hand in your pocket. But before moving on, let me assure you that "Win A Holiday" and its many variants are all hoaxes. Microsoft (or in another variation IBM) has never announced info about this virus. In fact, they and many others have pages up denying that this is a real treat. We'll get to those later.

 Tim Has A Severe Case Of Bad Temperament

Hello, my name is Timothy Flyte. I have severe ostriopliosis of the liver. (My liver is extremely inflamed). Modern Science has yet to find a cure. Valley Childrens hospital has agreed to donate 7 cents to the National Diesese Society for every name on this letter. Please send it around as much as you can.

Thank you,

PS: For those of you who dont take 5 minutes to do this, what goes around comes around. You can help sick people, and it costs you nothing, yet you are too lazy to do it? You will get what you deserve.

Gee Tim, I was really beginning to feel for ya until you started in on me about being lazy and getting what I deserve. That's when it occurred to me that there is no "National Diesese Society." In fact, there is no National Disease Society either. And if there were, wouldn't they be the ones donating to the children's hospital, not the other way around? Not only that, but I did a little checking around and found out no one has ever heard of you or your inflamed liver. Turns out that "Timothy Flyte" is the name of a character from a movie called "Phantoms"... which was playing at about the same time this hoax surfaced.

Apparently modern science has also yet to find a cure for gullibility, because this e-mail has been forwarded endlessly by good Samaritans under the impression that someone would really donate seven cents each time they pass it on. The trouble with that is real organizations trying to help people can't compete with fake schemes like this one. Usually when a big corporation offers to donate a portion of their proceeds to a charity it comes out of the money they are bringing in. But that can't be done with forwarded e-mails because as we've seen, Bill Gates' e-mail tracking program is a myth and no money is being brought in when you forward an e-mail. So no one gets helped and people who mistakenly think they did their good deed for the day may be less inclined to donate to a real charity.

 The Squirrel Monkey Who Flunked Out Of UCSF

I need your HELP !!!! Humans at the University of California are taking me and my friends and bombarding us 145 decibel noise for up to FOUR HOURS at a time to see why loud rock music makes you humans deaf ...what it will do to us it will blow out our eardrums and will eventually kill us . I weigh less than a bag of sugar. I will wake up (if I am lucky enough) to a bizarre world of total silence and suffer the agonising pain of constant ringing in my ears.and not hear my on voice on the calls of my fellow monkeys....."PLEASE HELP ME " you can reach the humans that are doing this to me at......
The University, The Chancellor. Chancellor's office, University of California, box 0402, 513 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco 94143, United States (Tel 001 415 476 2401; fax 001 415 476 9634 OR Email him at jmbish-op@chanoff.ucsf.edu
Dr Cheung can be reached at.... cheung@phy.unsf.edu
Dr Fong can be reached at.... mfong@itsa.ucsf.edu

Send this on to as many humans that you can from a Squirrel Monkey

Opps. Originally I wrote that this one sounded more like a disgruntled UCSF student looking to get revenge on a couple of profs. At the time I searched for any collaborating evidence on the net and couldn't find anything. Since then I've been sent a link to PETA where they refer to a San Francisco Examiner editorial that quotes a local audio store owner who claims that Cheung and Fong attempted to purchase a loudspeaker intended to blast monkeys with 145 decibel sounds. A search of the Examiner turned up this editorial. So I guess I'll have to eat crow (no wait, better make that asparagus). My apologies to the Squirrel monkeys.

This chain does demonstrate the need to link to corroborating evidence. The e-mail addresses given for Cheung and Fong are (understandable) no longer working. While it is a heart-touching story, forwarding it serves little purpose if a source of updated information is not provided.

 Take Two Clues And Call Me In The Morning

This e-mail only verifies what i saw on our local news a few weeks back! This memo was forwarded to me and verified by two GTE employees. Please be aware of this not only from your office but from your residence.


I received a telephone call from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service Technician who was conducting a test on our telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test we should touch nine (9), zero (0), the pound sign (#) and then hang up. Luckily, we were suspicious and refused. Upon contacting the telephone company we were informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which allows them to place a long distance telephone call billed to your home phone number. We were further informed that this scam has been originating from many of the local jails and prisons. I have also verified this information with UCB Telecomm. Please beware. This sounds like an Urban Legend - IT IS NOT!!! I further called GTE Security this morning and verified that this is definitely possible. DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE. The GTE Security department requested that I share this information with EVERYONE I KNOW!!! Could you PLEASE pass this on? If you have mailing lists and/or newsletters from organizations you are connected with, I encourage you to pass on this information.

Yes, do forward this valuable info to everyone you know who runs a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system. You know, all those people who have hundreds of telephone lines in their house. What's that you say? You don't know anyone running a PBX out of their home? Funny, neither do I. A PBX is like a phone system within a phone system, usually only found in large corporations, hospitals, universities, etc. Unless you live in Buckingham Palace, you probably don't have a separate extension for each of your hundreds of phones, in which case the 90# "scam" will have no affect on you. Repeat: 90# doesn't work on residential telephones. Take a look at this page on AT&T's site if you don't believe me.

With that in mind, let's see how many flaws we can find in this "warning."
  • It is highly doubtful anyone heard about this on the local news, they usually check their sources.
  • "Two GTE employees" would not verify a false rumor.
  • Pressing 90# will NOT allow anyone to place a long distance call billed to your home number.
  • It sounds like an "Urban Legend" because that is exactly what it is.
  • "GTE Security" will tell you it definitely ISN'T possible with a residential phone line. So will anyone else with a knowledge of PBX systems.
  • Please don't pass this hoax on to your friends or mailing lists, you will only cause unnecessary worry.
So the next time you see this hoax, please take a moment to write back and dazzle the sender with your technical sophistication by informing them that residential (ie. non-PBX) phones are not affected by 90#. Or just send them here and (hopefully) avoid getting all the false chains mentioned on this page.

 Oh My God, They Stole Kenny's Kidneys

Warning: Don't read this if you have a full stomach.

Dear Friends:

I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans. The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day. A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bath tub, their body submerged to their neck in ice, is sipping that drink. There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911. A phone is on a small table next to the bathtub for them to call. The business traveler calls 911 who have become quite familiar with this crime. The business traveler is instructed by the 911 operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their lower back. The business traveler finds the tube and answers, "Yes." The 911 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help. The operator knows that both of the business traveler's kidneys have been harvested. This is not a scam or out of a science fiction novel, it is real. It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful.

Jerry Mayfield
Austin Ops Engineering Manager
Telephone: 512-433-6855
Pager: 512-613-3710

From: Patty Radford@Desktop@PCPD Hou, on 12/16/96 10:33 AM:

Yes, this does happen. My sister-in-law works with a lady that this happened to her son's neighbor who lives in Houston. The only "good" thing to his whole story is the fact that the people doing this horrible crime are very in tune to what complications can happen afterwards because of the details precautions they take the time to set up before leaving the room. The word from my sister-in-law is that the hospital in Las Vegas (yes, Vegas) prior to transferring him back to Houston stated that these people know exactly what they are doing. The incision, etc. was exact and clean. They use sterile equipment etc. and the hospital stated that other than the fact that the victim looses a kidney there has not been any reports of other complications due to non-sterile, etc. tactics that were used.

Please be careful.

From: Kathy White@OS Dev@Sys Hou, on 12/13/96 3:25 PM:

Sadly, this is very true. My husband is a Houston Firefighter/EMT and they have received alerts regarding this crime ring. It is to be taken very seriously. The daughter of a friend of a fellow firefighter had this happen to her. Skilled doctor's are performing these crimes! (which, by the way have been highly noted in the Las Vegas area). Additionally, the military has received alerts regarding this.

This story came from the "Daily Texan" - the University of Texas newspaper. Apparently it occured during Fall Premier - a UT tradition that is a celebration of the end of midterms.

"Reason to not party anymore"

This guy went out last Saturday night to a party. He was having a good time, had a couple of beers and some girl seemed to like him and invited him to go to another party. He quickly agreed and decided to go along with her. She took him to a party in some apartment and they continued to drink, and even got involved with some other drugs (unknown which).

The next thing he knew, he woke up completely naked in a bathtub filled with ice. He was still feeling the effects of the drugs, but looked around to see he was alone. He looked down at his chest, which had "CALL 911 OR YOU WILL DIE" written on it in lipstick.

He saw a phone was on a stand next to the tub, so he picked it up and dialed. He explained to the EMS operator what the situation was and that he didn't know where he was, what he took, or why he was really calling.

She advised him to get out of the tub. He did, and she asked him to look himself over in the mirror. He did, and appeared normal, so she told him to check his back. He did, only to find two 9 inch slits on his lower back. She told him to get back in the tub immediately, and they sent a rescue team over.

Apparently, after being examined, he found out more of what had happened. His kidneys were stolen. They are worth 10,000 dollars each on the black market. (I was unaware this even existed.) Several guesses are in order: The second party was a sham, the people involved had to be at least medical students, and it was not just recreational drugs he was given.

Regardless, he is currently in the hospital on life support, awaiting a spare kidney. The University of Texas in conjunction with Baylor University Medical Center is conducting tissue research to match the sophomore student with a donor.

I wish to warn you about a new crime ring that is targeting business travelers. This ring is well organized, well funded, has very skilled personnel, and is currently in most major cities and recently very active in New Orleans. The crime begins when a business traveler goes to a lounge for a drink at the end of the work day. A person in the bar walks up as they sit alone and offers to buy them a drink. The last thing the traveler remembers until they wake up in a hotel room bath tub, their body submerged to their neck in ice, is sipping that drink.

There is a note taped to the wall instructing them not to move and to call 911. A phone is on a small table next to the bathtub for them to call. The business traveler calls 911 who have become quite familiar with this crime. The business traveler is instructed by the 911 operator to very slowly and carefully reach behind them and feel if there is a tube protruding from their lower back. The business traveler finds the tube and answers, "Yes." The 911 operator tells them to remain still, having already sent paramedics to help.

The operator knows that both of the business traveler's kidneys have been harvested.

This is not a scam or out of a science fiction novel, it is real. It is documented and confirmable. If you travel or someone close to you travels, please be careful. Sadly, this is very true. My husband is a Houston firefighter/EMT and they have received alerts regarding this crime ring. It is to be taken very seriously. The daughter of a friend of a fellow firefighter had this happen to her. Skilled doctor's are performing these crimes! (which, by the way have been highly noted in the Las Vegas area). Additionally, the military has received alerts regarding this. This story blew me away. I really want as many people to see this as possible so please bounce this to whoever you can.

If this is the first time you've read this story you are probably experiencing a mild case of shock right about now. And now you are waiting for me to tell you it's not true so you can relax, right? I wonder how long I should make you wait? I mean, it does sound pretty believable with the personal notes attached at the beginning and the story quoted from the "Daily Texan." Could it really be true? Does someone want to steal YOUR kidneys? Can't you just IMAGINE waking up in that tub full of ice? With a tube sticking out of your back? (Hey, I warned you not to read this on a full stomach. *g*)

Okay, I'll stop "kidneying" around and let you know the truth... no one is running around stealing kidneys, so relax. This is a classic Urban Legend and has been well researched, plus there are a number of reasons why it would be impractical to harvest Kenny's kidneys.

The main reason that kidneys could not be harvested in the manner described in this Urban Legend is that kidneys must be matched between the donor and recipient. This is a very involved process requiring tissue matching and genetic comparisons. You can't just yank out one person's kidneys and transplant them into someone else (and have a reasonable hope of the recipient surviving). Nor can you walk into a hospital with a bucket of kidneys and offer them for sale. Extensive record keeping is done to insure both a viable match and the source of the organs. Here is a quote from the UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) on this subject:
A "black market" organ trade could never in fact take place in the United States as organ procurement is a complex surgery that can only be performed successfully within a qualified and certified medical institution. A vast network of transplant personnel must work together to evaluate the organs before they are removed to ensure their viability, find suitable recipients, perform the surgery and preserve the organs. Organs derived under makeshift or secret operating facilities would never survive.
For more reasons why this form of kidney "stealing" is absurd, see the M.O.R.E. (Multiple Organ Retrieval and Exchange Program of Ontario) site.

Are you beginning to calm down now? Good. Let's check some of the sources mentioned and see if there is anything that is "documented and confirmable."

The Daily Texan has published a Viewpoint editorial where they plainly state that the kidney story "certainly WAS NOT reported by The Daily Texan." They ask that you help to stop the spread of this hoax by setting the "jokers" who send it to you straight.

The New Orleans Police Department has released an "official statement" about allegations of a ring of kidney thieves operating out of their city:
After an investigation into these allegations, the New Orleans Police Department has found them to be COMPLETELY WITHOUT MERIT AND WITHOUT FOUNDATION. The warnings that are being disseminated through the Internet are FICTITIOUS and may (be) in violation of criminal statutes concerning the issuance of erroneous and misleading information.
Sounds like they mean business and who can blame them? The real victims aren't the fictitious business travelers and students, but people in places like Texas and New Orleans who get a bad reputation. And what about the 50,000 Americans who are awaiting life-saving organ transplants and the nine to 10 people on the waiting list who die each day? As the National Kidney Foundation points out, this "unfortunate hoax will affect the public's willingness to become organ donors." And finally there are the people who read and believe this hoax when it shows up in their e-mail. What if they have a spouse off on a business trip or a son or daughter away at college, how do you think it will make them feel? By forwarding this hoax you haven't done anyone a favor, you have only helped to spread unnecessary anxiety. So if at some point you have seen and forwarded this "warning," please take a moment to send another e-mail to those same people letting them know that there are no kidney thieves. Include the URL for this page if you don't wish to explain your faux pas in detail, that's why I wrote this section.

 At Least This Hoax Tastes Good

Absolutely true story- THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

As I checked my e-mail today I found this story and couldn't resist sending it to everybody I knew and didn't know…even worse than she expected!!

Here goes… the woman wrote: My daughter and I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus café in Dallas, and decided to have a small desert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie" Neiman-Marcus is a very expensive department store. It was so excellent, that I asked for the recipe, and the waitress said with a frown, "I'm afraid not". Well, I said, then can you sell it to me? With a cute smile, the waitress said "yes" I asked how much, and the waitress said, "only two-fifty, it's a great deal!". I said with approval, just put it on my tab.. Thirty days later, I received my visa statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again, and remembered that I had spent about $20.00 for a scarf, and $9.95 for two salads. As I looked at the bottom of the bill, it said, cookie recipe $250.00. That's outrageous. I CALLED Neiman-Marcus and spoke to someone in the billing dept., and told them the waitress had told me two fifty, not two hundred fifty. Two fifty does not by any means suggest two hundred fifty dollars. Well, they refused to refund my money, because according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem." You have already seen our recipe, and we will absolutely not refund your money at this point. I explained to her the criminal statutes that govern fraud in Texas, and I threatened to report them to the Better Business Bureau, and the states Attorney General, for fraud, and I was in so many words, told "do what you have to do we don't give a crap, and we will not refund your money." Well, then I told the lady that I was going to send the recipe to everyone and anyone who has E-mail.

Well I thought I'd give her a hand, and do the ICQ blanket thing and this way we all can share it with all of our friends. POST IT ALL OVER TEXAS!!!!!! HELP THIS WOMAN GET EVEN!!! Here's the recipe. Make sure you try it, and pass it on to everyone you can think of!!!! And thanks!!!

This recipe may be halved.

2 cups of butter
4 cups of flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal
24 oz. Choclate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 eight oz. Hershey bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. Vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.

Enjoy cooking the most expensive cookies in the world - FREE!! This is true. Please take the time to read this and send it to everyone you know!!!

Though the true origin of this hoax may never be known, it has been circulating in some form for nearly 50 years... a classic Urban Legend if there ever was one. A 1948 cookbook includes a recipe for a "$25 Fudge Cake." In the 1960s it was a $350 "Red Velvet Cake" from the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The 1970s had Mrs. Fields selling a $250 chocolate chip cookie recipe. And today we have the ever popular $250 "Neiman-Marcus Cookie." Could it be true? Hardly... and here are a few of those pesky facts that demonstrate why this is a hoax:
  • Neiman Marcus does not sell cookies (that sure puts a damper on this legend, doesn't it?).
  • Neiman Marcus does not sell any recipes, they are free for the asking.
  • There is no "Neiman-Marcus café in Dallas," their restaurants are named the Zodiac, Zodiac at North Park, and The Woods.
  • The last time I checked, Neiman Marcus did not take Visa.
  • A $20 scarf from Neiman Marcus? Yeah, right. Check their prices sometime, a $200 scarf would be more believable.
So there you have it, yet another hoax... though the recipe does sound yummy, doesn't it? If any of you decide to bake a batch of these cookies, would you mind sending a few my way? Trashing all these rumors and hoaxes has made me hungry. J

One final note: if you are really disappointed to find out this recipe story is a hoax, maybe I can help you out. Just send me $250 and I'll sell you my secret recipe for DB's Famous Potato Salad. Then you can start your own chain mail divulging the recipe and it will be the first one that is actually true. Is $250 really too much to pay for the fame that awaits you? *g*

 Final Thoughts

You might ask "what's the harm in forwarding an e-mail to my friends?" The answer is that some of the latest hoaxes are intended to do more than just deceive you. I recently saw a web page saying if it gets "a million hits" then some poor sick little girl's grandparents would donate money for her treatment. Think about it, if her grandparents had the money and their grand-daughter was really sick, do you think they would wait for a web page to get a million hits? No, the only thing that is sick is the scumbag who put that site up. Was it just a prank to get a million hits? Absolutely not. The page had a revenue generating ad banner on it. Everytime someone visited that page the guy made money, even more if the visitor clicked on the ad banner. The danger of a scam like this is that as people begin to catch on, they will be less trusting of legitimate sites that have a honest message.

It gets even worse. Con artists on the net are finding better ways to make money off the gullibility of well meaning people. The latest scam is online petitions. You are presented with some legitimate sounding cause and told that when a million people sign the petition, it will be presented to some organization or perhaps an elected official. Note: some of these petitions are real, but lately there have been petitions popping-up on the web with a more sinister purpose... they are collecting e-mail addresses to sell to spammers, often porn sites. So while you think you are being a good Netizen by sending all your friends to sign an important petition, in fact you are helping some low life make a buck while getting your unsuspecting friends signed-up for a ton of unwanted junk e-mail, much of it of an adult nature. And once you are on those lists you can't get off, responding with a "remove" message only informs them that they have a warm body at that e-mail address reading the spam, which increases the value of their list. A list of people who will actually open spam e-mail and respond to it is a valuable commodity which will be sold from spammer to spammer. The "fresher" the list is the more it's worth. Hence the fake "petition" pages.

The Warning Signs

Legitimate e-mails and web sites provide ways to contact the author or webmaster. At the bottom of this page you will find my e-mail address. I will stand behind what I publish on my website and will make corrections if an error is pointed out. Scam artists hide their identities, they fear being tracked down. Just having an e-mail address doesn't guarantee the writer is honest, free e-mail addresses are easy to come by, but if you find a site that offers no hint of the author or way to contact him/her, then be very suspicious.

If an e-mail or web site claims to represent some large, well known institution, then is it clearly associated with them? For example, if an e-mail claims to be on the behalf of the American Cancer Society, does the return address reflect that? Most of the large institutions now have web sites and their own domain names. Likewise, if you see a web page that claims to speak on behalf of the ACS, is it hosted as part of ACS's web domain (in this case: www.cancer.org)? If instead it is hosted by a free service like GeoCities or Xoom, or if the e-mail is from Hotmail or Yahoo, then watch out, because it probably isn't from who it claims to be.

Does the e-mail claim that it is being "tracked?" This is a sure sign of a hoax since e-mail can not be reliably tracked. Rather than helping some poor soul when you forward one of these message, you are in reality wasting precious Internet bandwidth, which in the long run COSTS all of us.

 Related Links

These are but a few of the e-mail hoaxes floating around on the net. Occasionally I may add more to this page, but it is not intended to be a complete collection (the ICQ rumors keep me busy enough as it is). If you would like to further explore the world of hoaxes, myths, rumors and urban legends, I have provided a few links to my favorite sites. From these sites you can find links to many other sites, so I have not included them all here (less broken links to check).

Have fun and remember, before you forward that next chain, take a moment to see if it is true. Most are hoaxes and some are even hurtful. The Internet is a powerful tool for spreading information, but like any tool, it can cause damage if not used responsibly. So check before you forward, it only takes a few minutes.

Urban Legends and Folklore
One of the best UL sites on the web, very extensive.

Urban Legends Reference Pages
Another large UL archive.

Don't Spread that Hoax!
Very good advice.

The Gullibility Virus
Humorous page that makes a point.

Computer Virus Myths Homepage
Excellent virus myth site, I check it often for the latest updates.

The Truth About "E-Mail Viruses"
Forget about "Join The Crew" and get a clue.

The ultimate way to check for a hoax... search for it!

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