December 19, 2009

As the risk of sounding like your mom -- look it up

Any time an e-mail starts with something like "IT IS FOR REAL..." you can be pretty sure it's not. The capital letters are the major tip-off.

Someone actually sent me this oldie that's not a goodie recently:
"...I do not usually forward messages, But this is from my friend ... and she really is an attorney. If she says that this will work - It will work. After all, what have you got to lose?"

"I'm an attorney, And I know the law. This thing is for real. … Bill Gates sharing his fortune. … Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it..."

And make you a billionaire without your having to spend years building a business that produces software used by millions of people every day.

Bill Gates is sharing his fortune, all right, but he's sharing it with genuinely needy people who don't have, like, a roof over their head and food to eat, OK? Not lazy Americans who haven't figured out that if you Google "Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test," you'll find a bunch of pages telling you it's a hoax.

I wrote about this in OBJ back in 2003, and bunches of people wrote about it before me, including the venerable, under the brilliant heading of "Thousand Dollar Bill."

So here we go again, kids. Do us all a favor: When you get one of these e-mails, visit and look for it. You will be amazed at how many of these things are complete fabrications.

I should say you may be amazed. If you're a jaded journalist, you won't be amazed at all, just sad. Not only sad that so many people pull these hoaxes, but that so many people fall for them.

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