Date:         Tue, 20 Jul 1999 21:34:15 -0400
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From:         Bob Rankin 
Subject:      TOURBUS - 20 Jul 1999 - Cheezie Goldfish!
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            TODAY'S TOURBUS STOP: Cheezie Goldfish
Hi, and welcome to another week on the World's Biggest Bus.  Today
we'll look into those "send spam, get free stuff" chain letters that
are floating about in cyberspace.  But first, please drop by and
thank the sponsors who made today's tour possible.  Tell them you
found them on the Bus!
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Have you seen those stupid chain letters promising you free clothing,
beer, computers, and M&M candies in return for spamming all your
friends?  Here's an edited version of the "Free Clothes From The Gap"
letter, of which I've received about 100 copies:
> Subject: FREE CLOTHES!!!
> Abercrombie & Fitch have recently merged to form the largest hottie
> outfitter company in the world! In an effort to remain at pace with
> this giant, the GAP has introduced a new email tracking system to
> determine who has the most loyal followers.  For each person you
> send this e-mail to, you will be given a pair of cargo pants. For
> every person they give it to, you will be given a Hawaiian print
> T-shirt, for every person they send it to, you will recieve a
> fishermans hat!  A week ago, I got an email from the GAP asking me
> for my address. I gave it to them yesterday and I got a box load of
> mechandise in the mail from the GAP!!!!!
If you've been reading Tourbus for a few months, you know the idea
of an "email tracking system" is pure hogwash.  And aside from that,
it's ridiculous to think that The Gap would actually mail out millions
of packages of free clothing to people who forward a chain letter. Oh,
and never mind that "Abercrombie & Fitch" has existed for 100 years...
This hoax is clearly a spinoff of the "Netscape/AOL Merger" letter
which circulated in May, in which Microsoft promises to pay you $5
for every person you send it to.  Scads of people wrote to me asking
if this was legit.  I advised them to buy one of those "5 Million
Email Addresses for $49" CD's and then wait patiently for Bill Gates
to send them a check for $25 million.
These things tend to morph and propagate quickly, so you may have
seen one of these variants in the last few months:
  - Abercrombie & Fitch Giveaway
  - Free Beer from Miller
  - Free Y2K M&M's
You can find the text of these chain letter hoaxes, along with
thorough a debunking for each, at David "Magic" Emery's Urban
Legends website here: 
The most recent in this spate of "spam for free stuff" hoaxes is "Free
Computers from IBM!"  This letter claims that "Hewlett-Packard and
Gateway have just merged to form the biggest computer supplier in the
world" and that in response, IBM will reward it's "most loyal and
trusted customers" by sending 250,000 free computers to people who
forward the letter to 15 friends.
Again, people are writing and asking me if this is legit.  Sigh...
What is it about email that makes some people put their brains in
neutral?  Aside from the fact that Hewlett-Packard and Gateway have
NOT merged, why would IBM consider you a "loyal and trusted customer"
just because you forward a chain letter?
Instead of trying to explain why these hoaxes are so silly, I've
changed my approach when replying to people who ask me about them.
>From now on, I'm telling people the letter is absolutely true, and
that the following letter (which I made up) is also 100% legit:
> Dear Friend,
> Astonishing news!  Company X and Company Y have merged to form
> company XY.  As CEO of arch-rival Company Z, I have no choice but
> to send a truckload of Cheezie Goldfish Crackers (retail value of
> approximately USD $50,000) to the first 100,000 people who forward
> this message to 25 friends.  At Company Z, we honestly believe that
> spamming millions of people and sending billions of dollars of free
> stuff to total strangers (who most likely will never buy our
> products anyway) is a fantastic way to boost corporate profits.
> How will we know that you really sent this message to 25 friends?
> Easy!  We have invented an "email tracking program" that allows us
> to spy on every message you send, whether it's over the Internet,
> or on your company's private internal network.  (This basically
> means that we've taken control of every communications company on
> the planet, and brainwashed every network administrator in the
> world, but don't think much about that...)
> Don't believe me?  Listen to what Ima Lyer, who lives on a small
> remote island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, has to say: "Although
> I was a bit skeptical, I sent Company Z's chain letter to 25
> friends, and the VERY NEXT DAY, a truckload of Cheezie Goldfish
> Crackers apppeared on my doorstep!"
> So don't miss this fantastic opportunity to get literally tons of
> Cheezie Goldfish Crackers at our expense.  Don't question whether
> this is legitimate or not.  In fact, don't think too much at all.
> It just tends to use up valuable brain cells that you could use to
> reply to chain letters.  Just get out there and start spamming!
> Regards,
> Zebig Cheeze - CEO, Company Z
My hope is that this will cause a few synapses to fire, a few light
bulbs to flicker, and elicit few thousand "Wait a minute... Oh, I get
it!" responses.  So far, the results are mixed.  One person wrote
and said: "Was that tongue in cheek?"
"Find Patrick's Face" and Warp The Busdrivers
This week there's a new POLL on the Tourbus website.  Pop in and see
if you can find the Real Patrick Crispen.  When you're done, play
"Warp the Busdrivers".  Guaranteed laughs and minutes of fun!
That's all for now, see you next time!   --Bob Rankin
The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
=====================[ Tourbus Rider Information ]===================

   The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2238
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TOURBUS - 20 Jul 1999 - Cheezie Goldfish!, viruses, hoaxes, urban legends, search engines, cookies, cool sites
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