hoaxes, email rumors and urban legends
Current Urban Myths and Legends - A to K
= False, deliberately deceptive information|
Urban Legend – a popularly believed narrative, typically false
= Anecdotal claims – may be true, false, or in between
= Flotsam and jetsam of the Net
Code Phone Scam Alert [Rumor]
More or less true! This email alert originated in a reputable newsletter and
warns of a known telephone scam.
Phone Scam Alert [Rumor]
A half dozen or so variations of this alert have been in wide circulation since
1998. The scam is real, but it does not affect typical residential
Steinmetz: Missing Child [Junk]
Another defunct alert. Andrew Steinmetz was kidnapped by his father, then
recovered safe and sound by authorities.
to Viewer Complaint About Gays
When Jim Neugent sent an email to ABC complaining about an episode of The
Practice, he got more in response than he bargained for.
& Fitch Giveaway [Hoax]
A prank, basically a sequel to the "free clothes from The Gap" chain
Al Gore vs.
The U.S. Vice President allegedly calls Christians "a blight on the
Airlines Flight 261 [UL]
Did a crashing airliner unaccountably remain aloft for nine minutes while a
pastor's wife led fellow passengers in prayer?
The Good Neighbor
The text of this supposedly "recent" Canadian tribute to the U.S. is
authentic, but was originally authored in 1973.
In which we are told that a pregnant girl's boyfriend has agreed to let her to
bear the child if 500 people sign this petition. Sheesh.
Women's Rights Petition [Junk]
Not a hoax, but a sincere effort gone astray.
Chain Letter [Hoax]
Yet another opportunity to save a dying child who doesn't exist.
Cause Breast Cancer [Hoax]
This false rumor has been thoroughly trounced by medical professionals.
to Charge for Instant Messages [Hoax]
Age-old false rumor targeting America Online members.
Merger Giveaway [Hoax]
Just forward this message, sit back, and wait for your check to arrive! And
wait. And wait. And wait.
Merger Giveaway [Hoax]
Another bogus "email tracking" offer.
Merger Giveaway [Hoax]
Sorry, folks. Microsoft will not be handing out cash to everyone who
forwards this message.
in Crayons [Rumor]
The email rumors are based on an actual news story in the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer. (Coverage by About.com's Art for Kids Guide.)
A valid email alert which unfortunately contains no contact
"Rabidly inaccurate" email flyer dating from 1995, alleging that
NutraSweet causes just about every malady known to humankind. Scientists balk.
May Collide with Earth [Rumor]
Internet postings say a newly-discovered object may be on a devastating
collision course with our planet.
False rumor declares that a bank customer died after licking a cyanide-coated
Child Abduction at Sam's Club [UL]
Three email versions are now circulating of this decades-old (and false) urban
Killers & Ankle-Slashing Gangs [UL]
Two more well-known urban legends show up as an email warning.
Spread Flesh-Eating Disease [Hoax]
Necrotizing fasciitis, a rare and deadly disease, allegedly infects an entire
crop of Costa Rican fruit.
& Body Works Giveaway [Hoax]
And free stuff from J. Crew, as well! Two more "email tracking"
pranks to add to the ever-growing list.
Bears' in China (Petition) [Junk]
This is a well-intended e-petition containing fairly accurate information, but
"signing" it is a waste of time.
Bill 602P - a
5-Cent Tax on Email [Hoax]
They're at it again! The post office, we're told, wants to place a tax on every
Gates is the Antichrist! [Hoax]
It all adds up... to 666.
[Gates] Sux' Etched on Pentium Chip [Hoax]
Who would dare invite Satan's wrath in this way?
FLASH! Woman Shot in Head by Pillsbury Dough Boy!
Suicide of Ronald Opus [UL]
Circulating on the Internet since 1995 and still going strong.
Heritage Stamps to Be Discontinued [Rumor]
This rumor returns year after year, even though the U.S. Postal Service
continues to issue new African American Heritage stamps annually.
Voting Rights to Expire in 2007 [Rumor]
This email alert, bouncing around the Internet since January 1997, has just
about all of the facts wrong.
Packages w/Sponges Containing 'Lethal Substance' [Hoax]
A variant of 2000's "Klingerman Virus" alert. Pay it no heed.
Star' LSD Tattoo [UL]
Email alert claims that colorful cartoon stickers laced with LSD pose a threat
to children everywhere.
"What follows may be hard to believe. Please bare in mind that Dr. Mengele,
the Nazi war criminal, once said: 'The more we do, the less you seem to believe
Hembree Prayer Request
This call for prayers for a young boy who was very ill has been outdated for
quite some time.
Cancer Awareness Stamp
This email rumor circulating since 1998 is true: the U.S. Postal Service is
selling special stamps and donating part of the proceeds to breast cancer
Donation Websites [Junk]
True, but outdated. The Yahoo Health and NFL for Her sites offered one-click
donation pages in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Ogling Makes Men Live Longer [Rumor]
Tabloid journalism and email rumormongering intersect once again.
Spears: Dead at 19 [Hoax]
A radio prank aided and abetted by Internet hoaxers circumnavigates the globe.
Leads a Teenager to Christ [Hoax]
For G.W. Bush, the new President of the U.S., there's always time to save souls
— even at public banquets attended by thousands.
Soup / NFL Food Donations [Junk]
The "Click for Cans" donation drive co-sponsored by Chunky Soup and
the NFL has surpassed its goal and is now over.
Canadian's Tribute to Americans
Also circulating under the title "America: The Good Neighbor," this
text is authentic but was originally authored in 1973, not "recently"
as some versions suggest.
Vigil to Be Photographed from Space [Hoax]
Several emails erroneously claim that an official nationwide vigil to
commemorate victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will be held
"tonight" and photographed by satellite.
Canola Oil Is
Hazardous to Your Health! [Rumor]
Here we go again! Internet rumormongers claim that canola, usually touted
as one of the healthier food oils, is in fact very toxic to human beings.
Phone Giveaway - Nokia and Ericsson [Hoax]
Hoax messages say Nokia and Ericsson are giving away mobile phones.
Phones Cause Gas Station Explosions [Rumor]
Still unsubstantiated, but 'tis better to be safe than sorry.
Freebie Chain Letter [Hoax]
Forward this message and Veuve Clicquot will send you a free case of French
Char-Broiled Scuba Diver [UL]
As featured in the recent film "Magnolia," as well as a currently
Chicken Cannon [UL]
Yankee engineers prove themselves superior once again.
Eat BBQ Fetuses [UL]
Photos circulated on the Internet seem to prove that human infants are eaten in
China. Are they real? (Not for the faint of heart!)
John Mineo Jr.: Missing Child [Rumor]
An AOL chain letter that has no basis in fact, so far as we can tell.
Against Breast-Feeding [Hoax]
Sign this petition if you want to ban this "incestuous perversion"
from the United States.
Project' Chain Letters [Junk]
Don't bother responding to Mr. Blevins' 5th grade class – their email address
has been canceled.
Make Secret Service Pay Their Mortgage [Rumor]
The tale is that Bill and Hillary are charging their Secret Service guards in
their new Chappaqua, NY house an amount of rent equal to their mortgage.
Cloning of Jesus Christ [Hoax]
Our About colleague, Greg Hartman, investigates a Website devoted to "The
Second Coming Project," the purported cloning of Jesus Christ.
Eggs on Envelopes [UL/Hoax]
Postal Service worker's tongue gives birth to live cockroach!
Egg Tacos at Taco Bell [UL]
A fast-food horror story, as told in six different locations around the U.S.
Sniffing Scam [Rumor]
You all know not to take candy from strangers. Well... it's not safe to sniff
their perfume, either.
High School Shootings [Rumors]
Americans attempt to share their grief over the Littleton massacre through email
Pensions vs. Social Security [Rumor]
Members of the U.S. Senate and Congress enjoy lavish pensions at taxpayer
of Children Used to Traffic Drugs [UL]
An old urban legend (c. 1973) dressed up in new clothes for the Internet.
'Cough CPR' Can
Save Your Life [Rumor]
According to the American Heart Association, the "live-saving"
technique advocated in this email is not recommended in the absence of medical
Barrel Gift Certificate Chain Letter [Hoax]
Free gift certificates for forwarding a chain letter. Sound familiar?
Shergold Chain Letter [UL]
Story of the little boy whose life was saved by a chain letter that won't die.
Just stopped for a little snack between the fifth and sixth holes...
Bureaus to Release Private Info [Rumor]
But that is nothing new. What's new is that consumers now have the ability to
opt out of certain kinds of information sharing.
Scott's Columbine Testimony [Rumor]
TRUE: Darrell Scott, father of a victim of the Columbine shootings, delivered an
impassioned speech before Congress which has since been widely distributed by
Matthews Chain Letter [Hoax]
Rock star philanthropist offers up his email address to help sick & dying
Allen Prayer Request [Junk]
This document is almost four years old. Missionary David Allen is just fine and
no longer needs your prayers for his survival.
'Darren' Bucklew Chain Letter [Hoax]
This one's a rewrite of the old "Timothy Flyte" chain letter (below)
– just as bogus, just as annoying.
Lawitts Chain Letter [Hoax]
Supposedly dying of lung cancer due to secondhand smoke.
Cheney to Be Dumped by Republicans [Rumor]
Is the Republican Party planning to substitute a vice-presidential ringer in the
final hours of the campaign?
Slaughter in Japan (Petition) [Junk]
However worthy you may feel this cause is, the email petition is useless. Just
Murphy/Michael Jordan Mistaken for Muggers [UL]
New email versions of this old urban legend have Eddie Murphy and Michael Jordan
scaring the heck out of white people on elevators.
Day Switch [Hoax]
Email alleges that this year's U.S. presidential election will take place over
two days instead of one.
a Funny Thing [UL]
In case you needed it, proof that urine and electricity don't mix.
Warner Merger Giveaway [Hoax]
Another "email tracking" hoax promising money and vouchers for free
in a Car Crash [Hoax]
A phony "CNN" article claims that Eminem, drunk and on drugs, died
recently in a horrible automobile accident.
Exploding Toilet [UL]
Our hapless protagonist tosses a lit cigarette into the selfsame toilet where
his wife recently dumped gasoline.
The email variant of this very old horror story warns of what can happen when a
mother doesn't wash her child's braids.
Chain Letter [Hoax]
Practically a carbon copy of the "Kalin Relek" hoax below.
An email warning in circulation since January warns that the fabric deodorizer
Febreze is toxic to pets.
Stock' Chain Letters [Junk]
Internet start-ups offer shares of nonexistent stocks for free.
Yet another "email tracking" prank. Forward this message and get a
free Hawaiian shirt from Gap. (Not!)
Part II [Hoax]
A sequel to the original Gap chain letter purportedly authored by the company's
Out' 2000 [Junk]
Forwarded email incites Americans to protest high gasoline prices by skipping 3
days at the pumps.
Boycott 2001 [Junk]
Chain letter urges recipients to protest high gasoline prices by refusing to
patronize Exxon/Mobil service stations. Shades of the "Great Gas Out!"
Jesus' Film [UL]
Email petition incites Christians to protest the making of a film depicting
Jesus and the disciples as gay.
Candles Pose Fire Hazard [Rumor]
OVERBLOWN: Consumers report that gel candles have caused fires and serious
burns. Please note, however, that this is true of all candles.
Is Closing Down! [Hoax]
Yahoo plans on deleting all GeoCities Websites without notice — or so the
email rumor goes.
Savings Bond Giveaway [Rumor]
Fax and email alerts falsely claim that Gerber Products Co. lost a class action
suit and now must pay out restitution to millions of American children.
Mishap Injures Two [Hoax/UL]
Not counting the gerbil, that is.
Arabic/Bin Laden Connection [Rumor]
Various emails advocate a boycott of soft drinks and other products containing
gum arabic because it allegedly puts money in the pockets of terrorists.
Mr. Gorsky [UL]
What Neil Armstrong really said when he first set foot on the moon.
Samaritan' Killer at the Mall [UL]
A murderous, well-dressed "good samaritan" supposedly lurks in the
parking lots of shopping malls just about everywhere.
Garden Snake Terrorizes Household [UL]
New, hilarious email version of a classic urban legend.
of Records' Chain Letter [Hoax]
Just forward this message and get your name listed in Guinness – along
with a million or so other folks.
Virus Warning [Hoax/Joke]
Send this to everyone you know! Hurry!
Bush's IQ (or Lack Thereof) [Joke]
A new but hardly original specimen of Bush-bashing by email.
Bush Quote [Rumor]
Did he really say "I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10
empty tent and hit a camel in the butt"?
Testicle-Snatching Ring [Hoax/Joke]
Funded by the Chinese Communist Party!
Tax - Senate Bill S. 2099 [Rumor]
The premise here is that a secret "backdoor bill" in Congress will
require listing every gun you own on your federal income tax forms.
Jane' Fonda [Rumor]
Allegations about Fonda's activities as an anti-war activist are partly fact and
Potter Turns Kids to Satanism [Rumor]
Chain letter contains alleged quotes from 10-year-olds who say they hate Jesus
and love Satan.
Flashing 'Gang Initiation Rite' [UL]
Urban legend from the early '90s re-emerges as a frightening email alert.
Kills Child in McDonald's Ball Pit [UL/Hoax]
The "Kevin Archer" story, curiously similar to 1998's tall tale about
snakes in a Burger King ball pit.
Clinton and the Black Panthers [Rumor]
This email alleges that Hillary Clinton was a "defender" of murderers
in the Black Panther Party 30 years ago.
Needles on Gas Pumps [UL]
More needle-stick incidents, this time centered in Jacksonville, Florida.
Needles in Movie Theater Seats [UL]
"Welcome to the world of AIDS." The latest round of needle-stick
Needles in Pay Phone Coin Slots [UL]
Are drug addicts everywhere trying to kill us all with their dirty syringes?
Needles in Vending Machines - Canada [UL]
Is a bizarre cult in western Canada booby-trapping the coin slots of Coke
machines with HIV-tainted needles?
Find out right here how to get a brand spanking new Honda Civic just for
forwarding a chain letter.
Hotmail users who do not forward this chain letter are in danger of losing their
How to Avoid
Speeding Ticket Penalties [Rumor]
Email touts a too-good-to-be-true scheme for preventing points from being
assessed against your driving record.
How to Detect
a Two-Way Mirror [Rumor]
Is there a simple way to tell whether or not that mirror in the public restroom
Beer Explosion [Hoax/Joke]
Japanese man suffers serious burns while belching blue fire in karaoke bar!
I Am a
Bad American [Hoax]
Email rant on behalf of political incorrectness is falsely attributed to
comedian George Carlin and other celebrities.
Latest entry in the "email tracking" hall of fame.
Cleaning Day [Hoax]
It's time for the annual Internet shutdown for cleaning and maintenance!
Forward this message and make big bucks!!!
Chain Letter [Hoax]
Here's the logical question: Why would a billionaire use a chain letter to help
save a dying child?
Defines 'Cultist' [Hoax]
This utterly bogus quote attributed to Janet Reno several years ago is still
Religion' Census Campaign [Hoax]
An email now circulating in Australia and England claims that if enough people
enter "Jedi" as their religion on census forms, it will become an
officially recognized faith.
Beerman Chain Letter [Hoax]
Yet another "dying child" hoax, debunked by About.com's Charleston, SC
Koopmans: Missing Child [Outdated]
This email alert was valid, but the child's body was discovered on May
11, 2001. Police say she was murdered.
Mydek Chain Letter [Hoax]
Jessica Mydek, a 7-year-old girl supposedly dying of cancer, does not
exist, nor will the American Cancer Society contribute money for every time this
chain letter is forwarded.
Lesbian-Friendly Olympics Commercial [Rumor]
Yes, the TV ad described in this email will run during the Olympics – but its
controversial content has already been toned down in re-editing.
It was their first date... and, inevitably, their last.
Relek Chain Letter [Hoax]
Katie Relek says her son is dying. Problem is, as far as we can tell she doesn't
exist and neither does he.
Jones: Missing Child [Junk]
The latest word is that this apparent hoax may have been a valid alert
after all. Briefly.
Uses Mutant Chickens [UL/Hoax]
Ever wonder why it's not called Kentucky Fried Chicken anymore?
Thieves in New Orleans [UL]
The venerable organ snatching legend erupts again in 1996.
in Las Vegas & New Orleans [UL]
A 1997 variant. This hysterical warning is a hodgepodge of various mutations of
the legend cut-and-pasted together.
Thieves in Austin [UL]
This 1997 variant is a hodgepodge of various mutations of the legend
cut-and-pasted together and attributed to The Daily Texan.
Klingerman Virus [Hoax]
Not your ordinary bogus virus alert. This one's about a (supposedly) real, live
bug that is fatal to human beings!
Patients Schmidt: Missing Child [Junk]
A message still circulating more than a year after the fact pleads for help
finding a missing child, but the youngster has been safe and sound all this
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