Email hoaxes are rife on the web, but with 30 percent of internet users claiming to have purchased something from a spam email, maybe the scams aren't as obvious as we first thought. Here's our round-up of the eight wackiest email scams that people really did fall for.
Sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide
Email alerts outlining the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide swept the internet in the late 1990s and still pop up today. Many ask that you sign and forward a petition to ban the chemical, which contributes to global warming, is a major ingredient in acid rain, causes metals to rust more quickly, and has been found in cancerous tumours.
The chemical also contributes to the greenhouse effect and to erosion of our natural landscapes. It's even in food. Sounds pretty dangerous. You're ready to sign right now, aren't you?
Well, let us tell you one more thing about dihydrogen monoxide: it's more commonly known as water. You know, the substance that every single living being relies on to survive? The origins of this item are multifold, from flyers circulated at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1989 (so 20th century!) to a junior high school student who surveyed 50 classmates in 1997 and got 43 of them to sign his petition to ban the chemical. He then won a prize at his science fair for his project, called 'How gullible are we?'
Several web pages touting the chemical's dangers are still live. Don't feel too bad if you've ever fallen victim to this hoax; even a government official in New Zealand took the bait last year.
Extreme technophobia: pop popcorn with mobile phones
With all the talk of mobile phone dangers, the idea of radiation from them being powerful enough to pop popcorn doesn't seem that far-fetched, at least on the surface. So, why wouldn't you believe the swarm of emails telling you to look at the incredible video of friends popping kernels of corn with their mobile phones?
The group allegedly did it by placing the kernels inside a ring of mobile phones that then rang at the same time. The result - the kernels popped wildly as the mobile phone owners shrieked in delight. It must be true - it was on the internet, and the video was fun to watch. The event set off a wave of imitators attempting to film themselves re-creating it or trying to disprove it.
Unfortunately, as you might expect, it was all fake. A company called Cardo Systems made the video to promote its mobile phone headsets. Cardo's CEO Abraham Glezerman later admitted that the phones were real and the popping popcorn was real, but the video was a composite, with the footage of the popcorn heated over a kitchen stove digitally dropped into the video of the folks with their phones. Guess the email about mobile phones that can cook eggs isn't accurate either.
NEXT PAGE: Money from Microsoft
- They may seem crazy but millions fell for them
- Sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide
- Money from Microsoft
- Start a nuclear war
- Even more scams and tips to spot a hoax email