Fun_People Archive
26 Feb
Hoaxes Update

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 98 12:10:19 -0800
To: Fun_People
Precedence: bulk
Subject: Hoaxes Update

Forwarded-by: Bob Rankin <bobrankin@MHV.NET>
Excerpted-from: TOURBUS - 26 Feb 1998 -

If you have been a passenger on our little bus of Internet happiness for
any amount of time, you will probably remember our recent squishing of the
Bill Gates' email tracing hoax (see the 11 December 1997 and 12 February
1998 TOURBUS posts at for more information).  Well,
David Emery, a David Copperfield lookalike who debunks urban legends for
the Mining Company, informed me earlier today that the Bill Gates email
tracing hoax has morphed ... AGAIN!

The new hoax has a return address of "" and says that
athletic shoe and apparel maker Nike is

     offering free Nike shoes and clothing as part of a contest
     that all of you are invited to participate in.  Microsoft
     Corp. has developed a new e-mail tracing system and is
     currly [sic] offering us the opportunity to help test their
     system.  With the use of this new technology, we bring a
     contest to you. We ask that you forward this e-mail to your
     fellow students.

     After one month of testing the tracing software, we will
     randomly select 500 names from the list of recipients and
     each will be given their choice of a gift certificate for
     $120.00 toward any purchase of Nike shoes or apparel. Thank
     you and good luck.

As with all of the Bill Gates' email tracing stories clogging up the
Information Superhighway, the Nike/Microsoft email tracing story is -- brace
yourself -- not true (GASP!).  David Emery goes on to report that Nike has
officially stated that

     "" is NOT a valid Nike address.  You have been the
     unfortunate victim of a hoax -- reports of a Nike 'software
     testing' promotion are false. Nike does not send unsolicited
     email to anyone.

Stephanie Vardavas of Nike also told me a few moments ago that

     There are also a couple of other hoaxes that emerged within a few
     days of this one, and we don't know if they're related.  Both are
     "new shoes for old." One tells consumers to call our 800 number
     to have their old shoes exchanged for new ones, and one tells
     consumers to just mail their old shoes to a facility of ours with
     their name and address, to get new shoes in exchange. Both have
     been circulating in email and both are of course totally false.

I often hear people ask "who do these Internet hoaxes actually hurt?"
Well, the answer is two-fold:

     1. It hurts the people who are gullible enough to fall for
        these hoaxes (and, until we add a little more chlorine to
        the gene pool, there will always be gullible people out
        there) ; and

     2. It hurts the companies "targeted" by the hoaxes.  The Make
        A Wish Foundation was so overwhelmed with email from people
        responding to the "Craig Shergold Brain Tumor Boy" hoax
        that, for a time, they were having difficulties carrying
        out their regular mission: granting the dying wishes of
        children with terminal diseases.

You might not agree with Nike's or Microsoft's business practices, but ask
yourself this: what if _you_ (or your business) were a victim of one of
these hoax attacks?  Would your system be able to withstand the volume of
email that the hoax would generate? Would your phone be able to handle the
volume of calls from people who, believing the hoax was true, contacted you
for more information?

Like it or not, email hoaxes are _everyone's_ problem.  Because until we
_all_ stand up and do what is necessary to stop these hoaxes outright, there
is no telling which one of us will be the next victim.


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