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The "Hoax du Jour" is a recurring column providing updated
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by Jan Harold Brunvand
May 25, 1998
Many users wrote to me in answer to my page on the 90# Phone Scam. I thought I had made it pretty clear to begin with, but some clarification is in order. YES, there is a possibility that the series of keys 9-0-#, or something similar, might work on certain PBX and other business phone systems to enable a savvy con artist to get an outside phone at a business' expense. But NO, it will not work on every system with the same success. And NO, it will not work on residential phone exchanges.
Much of the confusion apparently resulted from the omission of one line of the original account, which detailed the specific PBX function needed at a New Orleans military base to give a caller an outside line. The omission may've occurred when an Air Force non-com forwarded the warning far and wide.
Again, it was my stated contention that, though certain phone systems
are vulnerable to social engineering, the fear that the precise same codes
(90#) will work anywhere is ... absurd.
It's that time of year again. Schools are wrapping up, Memorial Day has come and gone, and some dang fool has decided to again put the bugaboo bamboozle over on AOL users of dubious BS-filtering abilities.
The idea is, of course, absurd. Last year's Valentine's Day "riot" amounted to little more than inept amateurs disrupting some chat rooms using "basic tricks of the trade: scrolling text too fast to read, kicking out chatters, and using macros that spewed out text like 'RIOT!!! RIOT!!! RIOT!!!' and 'Get Ready to Corrupt.'" [WIRED]
This year's announcement seems as pedestrian. Spamming e-mail is easy, and making assertions of elite hacker status is just as easy. And confer no more credibility. (Note the brilliant use of ALL CAPS text, usually a good sign of BS.)
This year's variant introduces the added hysteria of an overt threat that the senders will close your account, ruin your computer, ruin your credit, yada yada,... unless you continue spamming the message to your friends. (And your friends will love you for it, right?)
I don't think so.
Like most other Internet chain letters, this one contains a hook, a threat, and (of course) a request. [CIAC Internet Chain Letter alert] The threat this time is a little more preposterous: the sender claims omnipotence over your account, ability to track your e-mail (and do so for hundreds or thousands of other users?), and threatens various forms of remote mayhem on your system (including involuntarily receiving and executing a virus).
It's a slightly new hoax (the "direct-threat chain letter" [Computer Virus Myths]), but it doesn't even use an original motif. Delete it upon receipt. Do not forward it. Have a happy Memorial Day.