Hey did you hear? It looks like Microsoft has teamed up with AOL and they are going to give $245 to you every time you forward this email to another person. Oh and there is a horrible file probably on your Windows based machine”¦ It is called PAGEFILE.SYS!
I see these horrible emails flying around my servers on a daily basis. They not only clog up mail servers and cause people to be spammed – they also cause damage to computers and propagated just like a virus.
I would say that 99 out of 100 of these emails are fake with no sustainable claims in the real world. Joe Shmoe gets an email from his mother telling him that we can end world hunger by forwarding this message to everyone in your address book and urge them to do them same. If we do this every email will generate $1000 for hungry children”¦ How can people think these things are real? People are very gullible. Heck, I told my assistant that they took the word gullible out of the dictionary, and she went to look it up!
Long story short – we should always verify a story before sending it on to our friends and co-workers. And that is why I am going to show you how to verify Urban Legends and Email Scams.You do not want to be the dude who sent out the email that caused the entire company’s network to go down.
There are a few sites that I use to verify (or usually disprove) these hoax emails that flood my inbox daily. Tina wrote about a few back in March. The most famous and widely used one is Snopes.com.
Snopes.com is set up in a way that you can search for a block of text from the message or entertain yourself by browsing through known hoaxes. Simply go to www.snopes.com and type in something from the hoax. If we were trying to disprove the Microsoft story, we might type in Microsoft.
And sure enough, there it is at the top.The hoax email we were looking for is number 1. So, let’s click on it and see what it has to say.
Right at the top, we see a red dot that says FALSE. Then, below it are variations of the message that have gone out. This one started in 2004 but it is still alive and kicking due to people not knowing what hoaxes and email scams are.
Snopes normally has everything listed but we will also give you a few backup sites to check your facts against.
www.truthorfiction.com is another great site for de-bunking hoaxes. It works the same way as Snopes does. Let’s try it out:
I searched for the great American hoax that Barrack Obama could not run for President because he was not a US citizen. Check out what TruthOrFiction returned on this page http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/l/lawyersues.htm
Questions About Barack Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen” – Truth! Fiction! & Unproven!
Obama’s Occidental College Transcripts released – Fiction! Possible April Fools Joke!
Summary of the eRumor:
A variety of articles, lawsuits rumors that question whether Barack Obama is eligible to be President of the United States base on his citizenship.
Update May 5 2009: A new Obama citizenship story story claiming to be from the Associated Press saying that a group called “Americans for Freedom of Information” released copies of Occidental College transcripts showing that the “Fulbright Foundation” had awarded Barack Obama, under the name of Barry Soetoro, financial aid to attend Occidental College. This claims to be the “Smoking Gun” to the rumor about his natural born citizen status. The eRumor began circulating in April 2009 and by the end of the month reached critical mass. There is no such story by the Associated press and looking at the dateline this appears to be an April Fools joke.
An Occidental College spokesperson told TruthorFiction.com that President Obama’s records are still sealed and no such transcripts have been released. When asked if the future President used the Obama or Soetoro name at the college, the spokesperson said that although he had not seen the sealed transcripts he had seen a 1981 photo book that was handed out to students and faculty at the beginning of the college year with student photos, names and hometown information. The 1981 photo book had “Barack Obama” under the student’s photo and indicated a home state as Hawaii.
And they go on and on, to let you know a little bit of the back story behind it. But right off the bat, we see it is not true and we should not forward it to the board of directors!
And just in case you can not find what you are looking for there, you can also check out http://www.breakthechain.org/ and http://www.vmyths.com/. Some of the anti-virus companies list hoaxes as well — like Sophos and Symantec but they tend to be a little bit outdated. But between these four resources and your own anti-virus’ website, you should be able to determine if it is a hoax or not. And when in doubt, post them in the comments and we will debunk them for ya! And that is how we Verify Urban Legends and Email Scams. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
Do you have another favorite website or database for sniffing out hoaxes? Aware of any faster or better way to verify urban legends and email scams? If you do, let us know in the comments!