Beware of Warnings, or Check before You Forward

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Have you received an email like this?

Police Warning (Send to Everyone): A man came over and offered his services as a painter to a female putting gas in her car and left his card. She said no, but accepted his card out of kindness and got in the car…Almost immediately, she started to feel dizzy and could not catch her breath. She tried to open the window and realized that the odor was on her hand… Apparently, there was a substance on the card that could have seriously injured her. This drug is called ‘BURUNDANGA’ and it is used by people who wish to incapacitate a victim in order to steal from or take advantage of them… So take heed and make sure you don’t accept cards at any given time you are alone or from someone on the streets.


What about this?

RAPIST TRICK: Know what money you are carrying… I stopped at the station to get gas… I took into the store two $5 bills and one $1 bill (just enough to get my stuff). As I pulled away from the store, a man approached my truck from the back side of the store (an unlit area). He was an “approachable-looking” man (clean cut, clean shaven, dressed well, etc.)… Since I’m very paranoid and ‘always looking for the rapist or killer,’ I didn’t open the window. I just asked what he wanted. He raised a $5 bill to my window and said, “You dropped this.” … When I told him it wasn’t mine, he began hitting the window and door, screaming at me to open my door, and insisting that I had dropped the money! At that point, I just drove away as fast as I could. After talking to the Internal Affairs Department and describing the man I saw, and the way he escalated from calm and polite to angry and volatile … it was determined that I could have possibly encountered the serial killer myself. Up to this point, it had been unclear as to how he had gained access to his victims, since there has been no evidence of forced entry into victim’s homes, cars, etc. … How many times would you have opened your window (or door) to get your money and say thank you …Because if the person is kind enough to return something to you, then he can’t really be a threat … can he???? Please be cautious! This might not have been the serial killer… But what might have happened if I had opened my door.

These are not true and should not be forwarded.

As security professionals, we often receive quite a few of these “warnings”, cautionary tales, or similar information via email. Other subjects have included information about cell phones, cautionary tales about diseases contracted in a strange fashion, warnings about dangerous household products, stories about terrorist activities, and scams involving money. Any email that states “forward this to everyone you know” should be more closely evaluated.

Before forwarding the email, check the validity of the story. The best source is usually Snopes.com, and their interface is easy to use. To use their search feature, choose a term that is unique to the email. For example, “burundanga” in the first story and “rapist trick” in the second story would produce results. As stated above, both of these stories are false.

The next time you see a story that sounds too scary to be true, check out Snopes.com before forwarding. To do otherwise is simply contributing to the rampant spread of urban legends and lessening the likelihood that a real warning will be read.


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Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.

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