Yet Another Lame E-mail Hoax

I recieved some e-mail from a well-meaning friend today (Sun, 18 Jul 1999), and well - it hacked me off (I'm hacked off at humanity - not my friend...)

I thought I would share this with anyone who cared to read it. Even if I help just one person... who the hell am I kidding? This transcript will help no one but me.

It is worth noting that when I recieved this message it had been forwarded so much there were lines with only one word of content. It was very difficult to read. You can take a look at (most of) the original if you like.

And now to the dissection table!
Enjoy.


> PLEASE READ THIS, VERY VERY IMPORTANT
> Hello, my name is Katie Relek, and I live in Alabama.
> Well, this is an important for you to read, bcuz I really
> need your cooperation.  It is so imporant for you to
> know about what I want to tell you.
> Ok, let me start. Ok, a couple of days ago, my son, he's 7 years
> old, his name is Kalin.
> Well, he was playing on the street, infront of our House, and then
> from out of no where, this car came out and crashed into him!
> I was sooo frightened and angered at the driver, but it ended out
> to be, that the drivers brakes had been shot, and he wasn't able to
> stop.

Ok. A kid somewhere in Alabama gets hit by a car. That happens. The 1st problem is that 'Katie Relek' is not anyone's real name as far as I can tell.
It doesn't look like Relek is anyone's name (at least no one in Alabama has that name according to Yahoo and Switchboard)...
Activity Number 1: Try finding someone with the last name 'Relek' - it's fun!

> Luckily, my son, was able to avoid death, but he is in very
> serious condition. Right now, as I speak, he's in the hospital, but
> the thing is, he has the serious injury to himself. It's internal
> bleeding, and it's bad to say, but we don't have any health insurance,
> and we don't have enough money to pay for the operation. So I made a
> deal with a company, BCC inc.

Now this starts getting bad. "Right now, as I speak" is when? This could've happened 3 years ago for all we know.
I think the name of the company is a joke. BCC. Blind Carbon Copy. Its a standard email thing.
Activity Number 2: Try finding a 'BCC Inc.' anywhere in Alabama. (I realize 'Katie' didn't specifically say BCC was located in Alabama - but I would think it likely)

And exactly how would that meeting have gone?

 BCC  : Hello, BCC Incorporated.
 Katie: Yes. Hello, my name is Katie and my son got hit by a car.
 BCC  : Do you need to call for emergency assistance?
 Katie: No, he's already in the hospital and he has internal bleeding
        and needs surgery. He's in serious condition.
 BCC  : Ok?
 Katie: I'd like to know if you'd pay for the surgery.
 BCC  : I think you would need to take that up with our insurance provider.
 Katie: No, you didn't cause the accident - I was just wondering if you'd
          help out. We don't have insurance.
 BCC  : Well, in that case sure. We'll pay for little Tommy's surgery.
 Katie: Kalin.
 BCC  : ...little Kalin's surgery...
 Katie: He's seven.
 BCC  : Ok. You understand that we are a business and can't just help
        people without getting something back. Many companies donate to
        get their names on United Way fliers, and things like that...
        What we'll need you to do is write up an email and send it to
        everyone you know. You do have email?
 Katie: I guess...
 BCC  : Good. Now in this email - explain your situation and mention our
        name, BCC Inc. Instruct people to forward it along to everyone
        and we'll give you five cents every time that's done.
 Katie: Wow BCC! Thanks! What do I need to mention again?
 BCC  : Just our name. No phone number, no web site, no street address -
        You don't even need to mention what city we're in. Everyone in
        the world knows who we are. We're as ubiquitous as McDonalds.
 Katie: U-What-rituss?
 BCC  : [oops. I forgot I was in Alabama] Um... Goodbye. Good luck!
> And they told me, for every person that will foward this email,
> he'll donate 5 cents To the operation. THIS IS NO JOKE. We attached
> this type of encoding, that tracked how many times this messages
> was fowarded.

Wow, either they're getting technically uppity in Alabama, or someone is lying through their teeth. There is no encoding type that will track anything. Encoding tells your email program how to behave with the data it is getting. For example this message you're reading is set to a kind of text encoding. There are many, many different types of encoding but none of them are capable of tracking anything, much less reporting that data back to anyone.
Activity Number 3: Locate an encoding type capable of such feats.

> SO PLEASE, FOWARD THIS LETTER TO EVERY PERSON ON YOUR LIST.
> IT WILL BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!! THANK YOU SOO MUCH
>
> Katie

Katie! What's your email address!?? I want to send you some money! I know its only $5, but that's like 100 emails! Damn you Katie! Damn you and your anonymity!!

As a rule of thumb: Anything that says "forward this to everyone" should not be forwarded to anyone. I have never heard of any of these not being a hoax.

Well, If someone can prove to me that any of the technical stuff is possible, I'll reconsider my sarcasm. Of course, someone would also need to prove that these people exist, and that the company exists, and that the events described really happened. A url of this story in the web site of a reputable newspaper would be a good start.

I think my cynicism and hatred of humanity will win out. I would like to congratulate the originators of this message on a successful hoax.
Sadly - it didn't take much.

Activity Number 4: Forward this message to everyone you know.


I just got this version. Pretty much only the names have been changed. I think it would be better if instead of the driver's brakes being shot - the driver could have been shot, like by some punk gang members. I think operating a dangerous vehicle could be considered criminal neglegence. Oh well.

Hello, my name is Tariq Hafeez,and I live in Chicago. Well, this is an important for you to read, because I really need your cooperation. It is so imporant for you to know about what I want to tell you. Ok, let me start. Ok, a couple of days ago, my daughter, she's 6 years old, her name is Fatima. Well, she was playing on the street, infront of our house, and then from out of no where, this car came out and crashed into her! I was sooo frightened and angered at the driver, but it ended out to be, that the drivers brakes had been shot, and he wasn't able to stop.

Luckily, my daughter, was able to avoid death, but she is in very serious condition. Right now, as I speak, she's in the hospital, but the thing is, she has a serious injury. It's internal bleeding, and it's bad to say, but we don't have any health insurance, and we don't have enough money to pay for the operation. So I made a deal with a company, BCC inc. And they told me,for every person that will foward this email, they will donate 3 cents To the operation.

THIS IS NO JOKE. We attached encoding, that tracks how many times this message is fowarded.

SO PLEASE, FOWARD THIS LETTER TO EVERY PERSON ON YOUR LIST. IT WILL BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!