'Delete' button buzzes with power
July 02, 2008
While I hate to take up space discussing some pretty disgusting things, I feel that I must in order to do my part to thwart the dispicable attempts by some to take advantage of others via the Internet.
Last week's column covered the bogus email I received from the 'customer service department' of a fake credit card company—an attempt to get me to provide all the information needed to get ripped off.
Thursday, assistant editor Maria Brown tells me she thought of the column when she received an email—the impetus for which just ended up boggling her mind.
The official looking email—which was forwarded to her by a good and caring person—stated that the Make-A-Wish Foundation would contribute seven cents toward the wish of a child for every seven people the email was forwarded to.
It even went so far as to give information about the child which was vague but descriptive enough to seem real.
As an experienced reporter, Maria's interest was piqued. She wondered about the authenticity of the email so she checked into it. And she found out it's a big huge hoax. A recycled version of an old one, at that. The Make-A-Wish Foundation—the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, etc.—does not take part in any sort of chain email fundraising. When you think about it for a moment, how would such organizations know how many times the email was forwarded? It is not possible to track these things unless the reader is asked to also send it to a specific email address which "keeps track of how many are sent." In that instance, it's easy to surmise why someone would want to perpetuate such a hoax. Absent that, it's pretty hard to figure out and Maria was truly scratching her head. What's the point, she wonders. Are people really that cold hearted?
Like me, she does not like to think so. But every day in more ways than bogus emails we're reminded that yes, some really are.
So along those lines prepare yourself for yet another cruel Internet hoax that I was made aware of by Paula Parisot, a longtime contributing writer and columnist. She sent me the following:
"Cat, here is the latest hoax out there. I just filed a complaint with the FBI, not sure if you want to address this in the newspaper but I thought if someone is not Internet savvy, they could be really scared about receiving something like this."
SUBJECT; SOMEONE YOU CALL YOUR FRIEND, WANTS YOU DEAD.
I felt very sorry and bad for you, that your life is going to end like this if you don't comply, i was paid to eliminate you and I have to do it within 10 days.
Someone you call your friend wants you dead by all means, and the person have spent a lot of money on this, the person also came to us and told us that he wants you dead and he provided us your names, photograph and other necessary information we needed about you. If you are in doubt with this I will send you your name and where you are residing in my next mail.
Meanwhile, I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation, but I ordered them to stop for a while and not to strike immediately because I just felt something good and sympathetic about you. I decided to contact you first and know why somebody will want you dead by all means. Right now my men are monitoring you, their eyes are on you, and even the place you think is safer for you to hide might not be.
Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? It is up to you. Get back to me now if you are ready to enter deal with me, I mean life trade, who knows, and I might just spear your life, $8,000 is all you need to spend. You will first of all pay $3,000 then I will send the tape of the person that want you dead to you and when the tape gets to you, you will pay the remaining $5,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will have no choice but to carry on the assignment after all I have already being paid before now.
Warning: do not think of contacting the police or even tell anyone because I will extend it to any member of your family since you are aware that somebody want you dead, and the person knows some members of your family as well.
For your own good I will advise you not to go out once is 7pm until I make out time to see you and give you the tape of my discussion with the person who want you dead then you can use it to take any legal action. Good luck as I await your reply to this e-mail contact: email@example.com
Paula says the FBI confirmed that is the latest hoax for trying to get money out of people.
"It came from an address in Poland, but asks me to contact a gmail account, which is Google's e-mail system. So apparently they are from Poland, not sure how they would want the money sent, probably wire them the money," Paula writes in an email to me.
The absurdity of the email itself almost—almost—outweighs the cruelty. Whatever.
Hopefully this will help stop some of this nonsense and tip the scales where they belong. Hit the delete button and send out a positive thought or affirmation. That's where the real power is.
Email Catherine at