Internet hoaxes have been around almost as long as the Internet because the technology provides a perfect vehicle for spreading an urban legend. All you have to do is post a “tall tale” on a website or send it in an email and it seems that in no time everyone is chattering about it. See if you recognize any of these doozies:
Microsoft will give you money if you forward this email. This chain letter email claims that Microsoft wants to pay you for forwarding their email. The more you send, the more you earn. This hoax sometimes shows up with different companies or charities but the truth is no one will pay you just for forwarding an email. The check is not in the mail!
Neiman-Marcus $250 cookie recipe. A woman asks for the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies served in the Neiman-Marcus café. When she later sees the $250 dollar charge she decides to get even and send the recipe to everyone she knows. One of the many problems with this tale is that at the time the email started, Neiman-Marcus didn’t serve chocolate chip cookies. Variations of this story have been around for years. In response to this hoax, Neiman-Marcus now serves chocolate chip cookies. So this hoax has a sweet and happy ending!
Hercules, the world’s largest dog. A photo has been circulating around the Internet for several years showing a woman walking a horse and a man walking a dog. The dog, named Hercules is almost as large as the horse. He supposedly weighs 282 pounds and has a 38 inch neck. This is one case where seeing is not believing. It is remarkably easy to alter photos and you should be skeptical of any photo that looks unbelievable. Another great example of this type of hoax is a photo that shows a huge shark leaping out of the water to attack a soldier scrambling up a ladder into a helicopter. The photo claims it was taken in South Africa, but the scenery in the background looks suspiciously like the Golden Gate Bridge.
Kidney thieves are targeting tourists. Variations of this ghoulish story have been floating around for years. The city listed is often New Orleans or Las Vegas. 100% false. There are no actual reports of this happening anywhere in the United States and the National Kidney Foundation also verifies that this has never happened. So you and your kidneys can travel safely without worry.
A recent hoax featured a woman named Jenny who supposedly quit her job by using a whiteboard. She was photographed in a series of pictures of her holding the whiteboard with various messages to her boss. The story said that she then forwarded the messages to everyone in the office. This hoax spread via email and Facebook unbelievably fast and within a few days a second version came out explaining that it was just a hoax.