Timeline of Internet myths, hoaxes, and scams.
Created by eric on Apr 28, 2008
Last updated: 07/02/12 at 01:33 PM
The e-mail below was sent to a large number of people, indicating that the DOE was going to send you a refund on your energy bill. Well, guess what, it is not going to happen. The link takes you to a site where you input your credit/debit card information so the refund can be put directly into your account. You can guess what really happens.
This is all true.
This message is just a new variant of the pyramid scheme. The variation, of course, is that now you use PayPal to send payments to the prople on the list. Like all pyramid schemes, it is illegal.
Here is another one like the two above
Most of the information in this one is true, but it was in 2003 not 2005. Someone apparently found an old e-mail about the closest approach of Mars in 2003 and sent it around again, not realizing that the event was over with two years ago.
Here is another spider in the toilet hoax that is almost identical to the original but that has switched spiders. It also includes a picture of the little bugger. The picture is a real female Telamonia dimidiata spider taken from
This story about the origin of taps pops up every so often and while the seitiment of the writer is right on, it is just that, a nice story. The known history of TAPS is well laid out by Jari A. Villanueva, the former curator of the Taps Bugle Exhibit http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/tapsproj.htm at Arlington National Cemetery. Taps was apparently a modification of an earlier melody borrowed from the French. It was modified by General Butterfield of the Union army after the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsular Campaign of 1862.
While there are some new viruses that do attack some cellular products, this is not one of them. According to the
This story about Neil Armstrong saying, "Good Luck Mr. Gorsky," just before he stepped onto the surface of the moon has been around for many years. It is a cute story but if you check the transcripts of what was actually said, you will see that it never happened.
We originally listed this one as a hoax but as was pointed out by a reader (thanks for the info) it either was real or has become real. The newspaper articles below describe real situations where this method was used to steal cars. Hopefully, these cases will give the car dealers a heads-up about making a key for someone without demanding proof of ownership.
Here is a variant of the #77 story. It is the same story but has been moved to Canada where *677 does work in Ontario. However, most people should use 911 which works just about everywhere in both the US and Canada.
I keep seeing messages on the net with "Andy Roony said this," and "Andy Rooney said that," many of which kind of sound like his brand of sarcastic humor. However, none of them were actually said by him. All these messages were actually created by the commedian Sean Morley as part of his stand-up comedy act and on Saturday Night Live.
A quick look at the link in the message should give you a hint that this is a joke. Go ahead, click it, it doesn't bite (much).
While you should always be careful when you are out at night, we can find no indication that this specific event has ever happened. I think the heading of the second paragraph "Imagine:" says it all. This is just something out of someone's imagination.
Helium causes death??? Come on; get real. Helium is an inert gas (if you don't know what inert means, look it up). It is not a poison and it cannot hurt you by breathing it. Divers use a mixture of helium and oxygen when they go deep because pressurized nitrogen is poisoness. The only way that helium could hurt you is if you were breathing pure helium (no oxygen). You would pass out and eventually die from a lack of oxygen not from any property of helium. This is true of any gas that you might breath that does not contain oxygen.
This is a nice story that may bring a tear to your eye but is totally fabricated. The Stoddard of the Stoddard Cancer Wing at Iowa Methodist is Dr. John Stoddard not Teddy Stoddard.
This one comes in your mail and threatens your bank accounts. It then wants you to connect to the FDIC website and verify your account information. If you check the link carefully, it actually goes to,
This rumor originally started in 2002 and I hoped it would go away but lately, it has come back with additional comments. A well balanced account of this rumor is available on Snopes, including a retraction by the author of the original writer. You can also read a response by the Vietnam Veterans of America and a reply from Target about this rumor.
So you want to be a supermodel? Someone has access to Photoshop or a similar picture editing program and way too much time on their hands.
This hoax message is trying to make it appear that the Qur'an predicted the attack on 9/11. I asked a friend of mine to look up the verse for me and they are totally unrelated. The real verse 9:11 is about repentance.
How about some free Champagne along with your free McDonald's salad???? --- Not!
There are a lot of lottery scams floating around the net that are similar to the one below. They all claim that you have won a lottery that you did not enter and that you are going to receive a lot of money if you just follow the directions. Come on people; no one is going to send you millions of dollars from a lottery or sweepstakes that you did not enter either by paying for a ticket or by giving up some of your personal information.
Come on people. No one is going to give you a free flight on an airline for forwarding an e-mail to 5 people.
I guess someone got tired of the "little Girl Dying" hoax and recreated it with the mother dying. As with all the others, no charity is going to give you 10 cents for forwarding an e-mail.
This message is supposed to be a warning that your account at BestBuy is being used by someone. The website you are taken to, www.digitalgamma.com, looks like the real thing but is not. It asks for a lot of personal information you should not give out.
And this e-mail is for E-Bay users. Filling it out and submitting it does not send your data to e-bay but to 126.96.36.199. Which happens to be a shared webhosting pool in Dallas, TX.
No one is tracking e-mails and giving away money. Forget it! If you check this one closely, you will note that the picture was swiped off of www.babypics.com and is actually a photo of Megan Cronce, not someone named Natalie.
This one is essentially true. Theobromine is a chemical in cocoa that is much like the caffine in coffee. Dogs don't metabolize it quickly so it is lethal to them in quantities of about 100 to 150 Milligrams per pound of body weight. For Milk Chocolate, which contains 44 to 60 mg/oz this works out to about 33 to 68 ounces of Milk Chocolate for a 20 pound dog. Other kinds of chocolate contain different amounts of Theobromine. A good article on Theobromine is on about.com.
This particular hoax has been going around for years and years though for some reason I never included it here. It is pretty obviously a hoax as it has lots of errors. Consider, the writer would have to sign her VISA credit receipt. Don't you think whe would have noticed the $250? Also, her VISA statement would only list Nieman-Marcus and a total. It does not list the items.
Similar to the Paypal scam above, this scam goes after your Bank of America login and personal information. The link in the message appears to go to bankofamerica.com but actually goes to a website in Colorado.
I have been seeing this one for several months now but can find no information one way or the other. I don't believe it because if such an incident happened, there would be lots of media coverage describing the event. Most likely it is just another one of those scare the ladies kind of message.
Another chain with an interesting psychological game included. Play the game but don't pass it on.
The last line of this message is an AOL buddylist link. Having it work has nothing to do with sending out this chain letter. The link can't do what the message says and who knows who you have just given access to your screen name.
This is so sad... but it never happened. Someone with a sick imagination made this up to get you to send on the chain.
I wasn't too sure where to put this one as it isn't really "hacked history" but totally invented history. If you search on the people mentioned in the message you turn up multiple websites with information about the assassination of Bill Gates in 1999 by a Alek Hidell and a supposed police cover-up. The pages include book reviews of a biography of the supposed killer, a fake Amazon.com page describing the book, a Movie page, copies of the incident report and others.
I guess I should have expected it. There is some sick person out there who seems to think that faking pictures of the shuttle explosion is fun. These pictures were most likely swiped out of a recent movie.
This photo was actually taken by Michael Clancy, a photojournalist. You can read his description of the picture at his website.
This message describes a
This is a standard chain with a threat. Send it out or you die. I think Amy's Ghost needs to be buried so send it to the trash.
I have see an e-mail with these pictures going around the net for some months now. The flags were donated by the Colonial Flag company in Sandy, Utah. and placed in front of the city hall. Only the top of the message is shown here. Use this link to see the whole message.
And, here is a Yahoo version of the Instant Messanger Hoax.
This one has been going around since the middle of the summer. If this really happened, don't you think the story would have been on every network and every newspaper, especially if it was occurring "with amazing regularity"?
This one is true. It and a lot of other commentaries by Charlie Daniels can be read in the soapbox area of his website.
This one is a revision of the Dr. Pepper Drops God Alert above except Pepsi is now the offending drink. According to the Pepsi website, Pepsi has never even had a can with any part of the Pledge of Allegiance on it.
The test described in this message would only tell you that you have a front surface mirror, not a two-way mirror. Front surface mirrors are normally used in telescopes so finding one in a bathroom would be extremely odd. Two-way mirrors are normal mirrors without the backing paint and this test won't tell you if the backing is missing.
Or, How to light a barbecue in less than 3 seconds. I just couldn't resist including this one. It has been making the rounds for many years. You can visit George Goble's web page and see video and pictures of the lighting.
Here is another one that I cannot resist including. The exploding whale story has also been going around for years and has its own website. The actual event occurred in 1970 in Oregon. Video of the event is available on the Exploding Whale website.
This image was supposed to have been taken in Africa but why is the Golden Gate bridge in the background. This whole picture is a fake.
I've seen this one alone and combined with the cell phone warning. There really is a Petroleum Equipment Institute and it really is working on a safety campaign about static electricity at gas pumps. Static electric sparks and gas fumes are a known problem. This is why the nozzles of gas pumps are grounded, to remove any static charge from a car while it is being refueled. This is a very successful setup as evidenced by the statistics presented by the Petroleum Equipment Institute. According to their report, Americans fill their cars 16 to 18 billion times a year and they have evidence of about 150 ignitions due to static a year. That's a risk of 150/16,000,000,000 = 0.000000009 per fill up or one fire per 107,000,000 fill ups per year.