It allows pranksters to get their message out to potentially millions of people. It has staying power because these claims seem to get passed on and on, sometimes the same one for years. And apparently the Internet carries a high degree of believability, because people will respond to some outrageous claims.
As a public service for those of us, I mean those of you, who may be tempted to respond to such messages, the following are some hoaxes to avoid:
In order to help our readers more quickly identify an Internet hoax, the following is the full text of a typical hoax. No matter how clever and tempting, you should not respond to such a message.
All of the stocks you own will increase seven-fold and will split, ensuring you millions. The price of gas will go down by $.32 a gallon. (This sentence alone should signal that it’s a hoax.) Service technicians will appear out of nowhere and will ask to work for your contracting firm in the exact numbers that you need.
All of your customers will experience perfect heating, cooling, ventilating, and refrigerating with no complaints µ not even from the jerks. And all customers will sign perpetual service contracts that make sure they, and their heirs, get proper service.
Seriously, though, hoaxes are a colossal waste of time and energy. It’s a waste of your time sending out numerous e-mails and/or making phone calls to the hoax’s target company. And it’s a waste of the target company’s time having to respond over and over to untrue claims.
When reading amazing claims in unsolicited e-mail, two bits of age-old advice still apply:
1. There’s no such thing as a free lunch (or free money, free trips, free beer, etc.).
2. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.