Internet hoaxes, email
rumors and urban legends
Current Urban Myths and Legends - L to Z
= 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
Ellison's Yale Commencement Address [Satire]
Did Oracle's CEO, Larry Ellison, really call the Yale Class of 2000 a pack of
Photo' from atop the World Trade Center [Hoax]
A wayward jetliner is clearly visible in the background of this purported
September 11, 2001 tourist snapshot.
Firm Memo on Replacing Murdered Secretary [Hoax]
Callous memo stipulating schedule changes after an employee's murder turns out
to be a prank.
at the End of the Tunnel [Hoax/Joke]
From the "odd things inserted into orifices" file.
Distance Toll Charge for Internet Access [Rumor]
A "new" old rumor – the U.S. government is going to make us pay long
distance rates for dial-up access.
Lou Reed Is
Not really, but this email hoax fooled several radio stations into reporting
Reed's "death" as hard news.
& Strychnine on Pay Phone Buttons [Rumor]
More pay phone hysteria, courtesy of the Internet.
You are invited to help solve the problem of teenage drunken driving by reading
a sappy poem and "signing" an email petition to be sent off to any
number of destinations.
Pregnancy Website [Hoax]
Wherein it is claimed that Taiwanese-born Mingwei Lee is the first human male to
be artificially impregnated and will soon give birth to a child.
Scams on 'Inside Edition' [Rumor]
This "warning to women" claims that elaborate scams are being used by
abductors to lure female shoppers out of malls and into waiting vans.
- 'Human Meat' for Sale [Hoax]
Calling all cannibals! Here's an e-commerce site just for you!
Intentionally Dishonored Bill Clinton [Rumor]
Is the president's Marine helicopter crew treating G.W. Bush with more respect
than it treated Bill Clinton?
Donations to Palestinians Injured in Uprising [Rumor]
A good example of what happens when a grain of truth is fed into the rumor mill
in the midst of political discord.
Gibson - The Man Without a Face [Hoax]
Film about a disfigured teacher was allegedly based on Mel Gibson's own life.
Novenche Prayer Request
A sincere and authentic request for prayers for an ill 2-year-old boy, in
circulation since April 2000.
Water Explodes in Man's Face [Rumor]
Email warns of a little-known hazard of using microwave ovens.
Hutchinson, Missionary in Peril [Rumor]
Email rumor that a Christian missionary in Africa is in danger of being lynched
Arkansas woman mistakes the driver of a pickup truck for Jesus and dies while
trying to ascend to heaven through the sun roof of her car.
for the Millennium [Hoax]
Just for forwarding a chain letter? I think not.
Lewinsky Quote [Hoax]
Here's what the former White House intern supposedly said on Larry King Live...
and evidence that she didn't.
Messenger Petition [Hoax]
Is MSN planning to start charging for instant messages? Can you stop them
by circulating this chain letter? No and no.
Conducted 'Sex Experiments' in Space [UL/Hoax]
So says a brand new book based on a bogus text floating around the Net since
Marcus (Mrs. Fields) Cookie Recipe [UL]
Posh department store charges $250 for a cookie recipe; victim gets even by
sharing it with the world. All the ingredients of a legend!
Company 'Email Tracker' Giveaway [Hoax]
More money for nothing!
Business Offer [Scam]
Beware of messages from Nigerians offering you a million dollars or more for
agreeing to be their "business partner."
'Sweatshop' Not Allowed on Personalized Shoes [Rumor]
Nike has confirmed that this email exchange between the company and a customer
with an agenda really occurred.
Fear' Bumper Stickers Are Racist [Rumor]
Email rumor charges that the stickers promote David Duke's National Organization
for European American Rights.
Predicted Outcome of U.S. Election [Hoax]
Republicans balk; Democrats wonder how Nostradamus could have been so spookily
accurate 450 years ago.
Predicted Terrorist Attack on World Trade Center [Hoax]
Believe it or not, Nostradamus was able to compose this prophetic verse a
century after his own death!
- 'No Urban Dictate' [Rumor]
From David Spalding's 'Hoax du Jour' – Do some corporations apply racist
criteria when deciding where to advertise?
Worker Dead 5 Days Before Coworkers Realize [UL]
The strange story of George Turklebaum, proofreader.
Old Navy Gift
Cards Giveaway [Hoax]
Latest version of the same tired prank.
Steakhouse Chain Letter [Hoax]
Further adventures in "email tracking"
Cancer and CA-125 Screening [Rumor]
Rumor makes misleading claims about "primary peritoneal cancer" and
the value of the CA-125 tumor marker as a screen.
Disease of the Nipple
The information in this forwarded email warning of a rare but real form of
breast cancer is mostly accurate.
NPR / NEA Petition [Junk]
"The Case of the Pointless Petition" – a cautionary tale.
Shark Attack - The Untold Story [Rumor]
A cynical, unsubstantiated account of events surrounding the July 6 shark attack
on 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast of Pensacola, Florida.
Heartwarming story of a talented young man who overcame a tragic christening to
become a rich and famous television star.
Sniffing (Knock-Out Perfume) Scam [UL]
It seems bands of thieves in major cities around the world are having
spectacular success getting women to sniff ether-tainted perfume samples.
(PPA) Health Warnings [Rumor]
TRUE: The FDA has issued a health alert about the dangers of PPA, an ingredient
commonly found in cold remedies and appetite suppressants.
Email contends that the origin of the word "picnic" is connected with
lynchings of blacks by white people in America.
Unbelievable archaeological discovery!
& Gamble is Run by Satanists! [UL]
An oldie hits the charts again due to P&G's recent lawsuits against Amway
for allegedly spreading false rumors.
- New Date Rape Drug [Hoax]
According to this false email alert, there's a new date rape drug that
permanently sterilizes female victims.
Snatchings Result in Near-Decapitation [Hoax]
This email tells us that female victims are suffering broken necks,
near-decapitation and even death in the course of purse snatching crimes.
Arlington Chain Letter [Hoax]
Your chance to save another "dying child" who doesn't exist.
Indicators in Social Security Numbers [Rumor]
Did the government secretly "color-code" your SSN? Plus, alleged
racism in Microsoft software.
Forest Petition [Junk]
This petition to oppose a deforestation measure before Brazilian Congress is
outdated and useless.
Droppings/Urine Cause Hawaiian Man's Death [Rumor]
A plausible scenario, but did this incident really happen?
Rat Urine on
Soda Pop Cans Is Lethal [Rumor]
Three variations of a cautionary tale making the email rounds since 1998.
Revocation of Independence [Joke]
One of the funnier bits of Net satire poking fun at the interminable U.S.
presidential election of 2000.
Chain Letter [Hoax]
"David Lawitts" (or "Tamara Martin") by any other name.
Military Dog (Petition) [Junk]
A sincere but misinformed effort to save a Marine Corps attack and detector dog
and the Piano Teacher [Hoax]
A "musically challenged" piano student overcomes his lack of talent to
play a brilliant recital in hopes that his recently deceased mother, born deaf,
will "hear." But wait till you see the punchline...
Another email-driven protest, this one advocating power conservation through a
voluntary blackout on June 21, 2001.
Forward this message and save a puppy's life... or make a buck, it's unclear
Cancer Warning [Rumor]
This chain letter falsely claims that sodium laureth sulfate, an ingredient
found in some brand-name shampoos, is carcinogenic.
Reparations' Tax Credits [Rumor/Scam]
Con artists are taking advantage of "slave reparations" rumors to bilk
black senior citizens of money and personal information.
2001 variant of a year-old rumor based partly on fact about a Net
stalker/murderer who called himself "Slavemaster."
Dance' Chain Letter [Hoax]
Smarmy poetry and another opportunity to help save the life of a dying child who
Swallows Man! [UL]
Series of photos purports to show a full-grown man being digested by a large
Child in Burger King Ball Pit [UL]
Email warns of baby rattlesnakes hiding in restaurant playgrounds.
the Giant Mutant Cat [Hoax]
Photo of an Ontario man showing off his 87-pound housecat born near a nuclear
Teenagers across America, we're told, are tossing firebombs into randomly
of Liberty Is a Tribute to Black Slaves [Rumor]
Internet rumor prompts new research into Lady Liberty's past.
The Story of
History and folklore collide in this email tale about the origin of this
touching and famous bugle call.
Chain Letter [Hoax]
A rip-off of the "David Lawitts" chain letter above.
Flyte Chain Letter [Hoax]
A fictional (quite literally) character is dying of the dread disease "Ostriopliosis."
Forward this chain letter to save his life.
McVeigh Book Boycott [Junk]
Email urges recipients not to make a "hero" of the Oklahoma City
bomber by buying a book about him.
Spiders' Kill 5 in Chicago Airport [Hoax]
The deadly "arachnius gluteus" rears its ugly head across the U.S.
Hilfiger Made Racist Statements on Oprah [Rumor]
That's what the email rumor claims, at any rate. This outright lie dates back
by an Angel' Religious Broadcasting Petition [Junk]
This petition, alleging that the FCC is under the spell of atheist Madalyn
Murray O'Hair, is just as false now as it was 25 years ago.
Sponges from P&G [Hoax]
A new email alert claims that "pot scrubbers" from P&G contain a
Two versions of this email alert are circulating, one more fraudulent than the
about the IRS [Hoax/Joke]
Hey, this one's kind of plausible!
Clorox is Dangerous to Pets & Children [Rumor]
It contains lye, says the email rumor, and therefore is more hazardous than
The man who took out fire insurance... on his rare cigars.
Government to Monitor Employee Email in April [Hoax]
It either happened already on April 2 or will continue all month long, depending
on which version of the email rumor you read.
Bogus offer to U.S. veterans involving alleged dividends on insurance policies.
Clicquot Champagne Freebie [Hoax]
Forward this message and Veuve Clicquot will send you a free case of French
Secret Giveaway [Hoax]
Forward this message and get a free gift certificate for silk undies!
Chain Letter [Hoax]
The "coolest chain letter ever" claims that a funny video will appear
on your screen if you forward it to 11 people.
Sunscreen Causes Blindness in Children [Rumor]
Recycled 1998 warning alleges that children have gone blind due to exposure to
The most outrageous college application essay ever written.
Wingdings Prophecies [Hoax]
Microsoft's "Wingdings" font contains secretly encoded predictions of
the World Trade Center terrorist attack.
Messenger Petition [Hoax]
It was only a matter of time...