Internet Urban Legends Surface Again

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Internet urban legends surface all the time.  Its up to us to determine if they facebook-iconare true or not.  These popped up again on Facebook and are once again making their rounds.  No one should go through life being afraid because of a lie. They can be disregarded.  Doing a quick search on the internet and you can find that your fears are for not.

PLEASE share this with all that you know on your social media sites so we can stop these lies.

This post below surfaced again on Facebook on 02/20/2014 and has been shared 143 THOUSAND times and its all a lie.

A True Story Serve as a Warning

To the men: warn your loved ones!

To the women: remember this!

About a month ago there was a woman standing by the Mega Mall entrance passing out flyers to all the women going in. The woman had written the flyer herself to tell about an experience she had, so that she might warn other women. The previous day, this woman had finished shopping, went out to her car and discovered that she had a flat. She got the jack out of the trunk and began to change the flat. A nice man dressed in business suit and carrying a briefcase walked up to her and said, “I notice you’re changing a flat tire. Would you like me to take care of it for you?” The woman was grateful for his offer and accepted his help. They chatted amiably while the man changed the flat, and then put the flat tire and the jack in the trunk, shut it and dusted his hands off. The woman thanked him profusely, and as she was about to get in her car, the man told her that he left his car around on the other side of the mall, and asked if she would mind giving him a lift to his car. She was a little surprised and asked him why his car was on other side. He explained that he had seen an old friend in the mall that he hadn’t seen for some time and they had a bite to eat and visited for a while; he got turned around in the mall and left through the wrong exit, and now he was running late and his car was clear around on the other side of the mall. The woman hated to tell him “no” because he had just rescued her from having to change her flat tire all by herself, but she felt uneasy. Then she remembered seeing the man put his briefcase in her trunk before shutting it and before he asked her for a ride to his car. She told him that she’d be happy to drive him to his car, but she just remembered one last thing she needed to buy. She said she would only be a few minutes; he could sit down in her car and wait for her; she would be as quick as she could be. She hurried into the mall, and told a security guard what had happened; the guard came out to her car with her, but the man had left. They opened the trunk, took out his locked briefcase and took it down to the police station. The police opened it (ostensibly to look for ID so they could return it to the man)… What they found was rope, duct tape and knives. When the police checked her “flat” tire, there was nothing wrong with it; the air had simply been let out. It was obvious what the man’s motive was, and obvious that he had carefully thought it out in advance. The woman was blessed to have escaped harm. How much worse it would have been had she waited in the car while the man fixed the tire, or if she had a baby strapped into a car seat. Or if she’d gone against her judgment and given him a lift. I’d like you to forward/share this to all the women you know. It may save a life. I was going to send this to the ladies only; but guys, if you love your mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, etc., you may want to pass this messages to them, as well. REMEMBER and make it a HABIT to PRAY! and PRAY! and PRAY!!!

A sobering story, if true. But is it true?  It seems to be missing all the crucial details that would characterize an incident report in the mainstream press. Consider:

1. There is no date or location given. In what city and state did this occur?  There is a reference to “the Mega Mall.”  But that could refer to any large mall, or to a place called The Mega Mall in Lansing Michigan; or to The Mall of America; or to Bert’s Mega Mall in California; or to the SM MegaMall in the Philippines. It’s hard to verify a story that could have happened anywhere in the world. That’s why newspaper reports of crimes or attempted crimes always begin with the dateline; a notation at the beginning of an article giving the date and location.  Granted, the writer says “about a month ago,”, but would be more meaningful if I hadn’t first heard this tale over ten years ago.  In the version I first heard, it was duffel bag in the back seat, not a briefcase in the trunk, and it was a mall local to me, but it was identical in all other respects.

2. There are no names. The would-be victim is not given a name. Even Robin “last name withheld” or Suzy “named change to protect her privacy” would be more typical of a real news item than simply “the woman.”  And what is the name of the security guard who was involved?  Surely he was interviewed. And to what police station was this reported?  Their records would corroborate this story. Perhaps they could provide information on whether there had been similar occurrences in the area before or since.  And wouldn’t the police have tried a “lost and found” ruse to get the owner of the briefcase to come claim it? I’m no expert on the legalities of their opening the locked briefcase under the circumstances. But given that they did, and found suspicious contents, would they not have dusted the case and its contents for fingerprints, along with the wheel and jack in the woman’s trunk? Someone reporting on an incident from “about a month ago” could easily include information like this.

3.  There are security cameras everywhere these days. Were there none at the mall?  What, if anything, did they show? Was the woman interviewed by her local media?  If so, there’s probably a newspaper report or a You tube video of it somewhere.

In the absence of all the aforementioned information, this story might as well begin “Once upon a time.”  Now there is nothing wrong with a good piece of fiction that is clearly labeled as such. But to peddle fiction as fact is wrong. And do we really need to make up a scary story in order to encourage people to pray?  Finally, if people are easily convinced that these undying Internet stories are true, it suggests they might be easy prey for con artists. And in the financial world, there are plenty of those.   That’s next.

Description: Viral alert / Forwarded email
Circulating since: Nov. 2009
Status: False (see details below)

2012 example:
As posted on Facebook, Sep. 16, 2012:

A MESSAGE FROM THE OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL STATE OF MICHIGAN:SITUATION… While driving on a rural end of the roadway on Thursday morning, I saw an infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it. For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But when I got to my destination, I called the Canton PD and they were going to check it out. But, this is what the Police advised even before they went out there to check….“There are several things to be aware of … gangs and thieves are now plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women) to stop their vehicle and get out of the car.“There is a gang initiation reported by the local Police Department where gangs are placing a car seat by the road… with a fake baby in it…. waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the abandoned baby. “Note that the location of this car seat is usually beside a wooded or grassy (field) area and the person — woman — will be dragged into the woods, beaten and raped, and usually left for dead. If it’s a man, they’re usually beaten and robbed and maybe left for dead, too.DO NOT STOP FOR ANY REASON!!! DIAL 9-1-1 AND REPORT WHAT YOU SAW, BUT DON ‘T EVEN SLOW DOWN.“IF YOU ARE DRIVING AT NIGHT AND EGGS ARE THROWN AT YOUR WINDSHIELD, DO NOT STOP TO CHECK THE CAR, DO NOT OPERATE THE WIPER AND DO NOT SPRAY ANY WATER BECAUSE EGGS MIXED WITH WATER BECOME MILKY AND BLOCK YOUR VISION UP TO 92.5%, AND YOU ARE THEN FORCED TO STOP BESIDE THE ROAD AND BECOME A VICTIM OF THESE CRIMINALS.THIS IS A NEW TECHNIQUE USED BY GANGS, SO PLEASE INFORM YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES.THESE ARE DESPERATE TIMES AND THESE ARE UNSAVORY INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL TAKE DESPERATE MEASURES TO GET WHAT THEY WANT.” Please talk to your loved ones about this. This is a new tactic used. Please be safe. Get started NOW — SEND THIS MESSAGE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES TO BE CAREFUL AND AWARE OF EVERYTHING AROUND THEM SO AS NOT TO BECOME A VICTIM.

2010 example:
Email contributed by Denise C., March 12, 2010:

New WarningsFYI, passed along from personnel at the Paulding County Courthouse, in Georgia. Several things to be aware of this year… as gangs and robbers are now plotting different ways to get a person to “stop” their vehicle.Please note:
There is a gang initiation reported by the local police department that gangs are placing a car seat by the road … with a fake baby in it… waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the baby. Note that the location of this car seat will usually be beside a wooded or grassy (field) area …and the person – woman – will be dragged into the woods – beaten and raped – usually left for dead. DO NOT STOP. DIAL 9-1-1 AND INFORM THEM…

2009 example:
Email contributed by Steven K., Nov. 18, 2009:

Fwd: NEW TRICK TO ROB YOU…If you are driving at night and eggs are thrown at your windshield.Do not operate the wiper and spray any water because eggs mixed with water become milky and block your vision up to 92.5% so you are forced to stop at the roadside and become a victim of robbers.This is a new technique used by robbers.Please inform your friends and relatives.

Analysis: These warnings originated as separate messages that were eventually combined into one. We don’t know by whom. As you can see from the older examples above, the eggs-on-windshields alert first began circulating, with no mention of babies in car seats, in late 2009. A few months later it was merged with a separate alert (also circulating since 2009) claiming that wannabe gangsters are leaving infant car seats on roadsides to trick drivers into stopping as part of a “gang initiation” rite.

Both warnings were, and are, hoaxes. I’ve searched for police reports and news stories documenting the use of such tactics by criminals anywhere in the U.S. and found none. Moreover, law enforcement agencies across North America have issued statements dismissing these warnings as fictitious and urging citizens to ignore them (see examples below).

See also: ‘National Gang Week’ Crime Alert – Nov. 2009


Here Is Yet Another

Dear Friends:I know not all of you are women that I am sending this to, but am hoping you will share this with your wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, etc. Our world seems to be getting crazier by the day. Pipe bombs in mailboxes and sickos in parking lots with perfume. Be careful. I was approached yesterday afternoon around 5:30 PM in the Walmart parking lot by two males asking what kind of perfume I was wearing.Then they asked if I’d like to sample some fabulous scent they were willing to sell me at a very reasonable rate. I probably would have agreed had I not received an e-mail warning of a “Wanna smell this neat perfume?” scam.The men continued to stand between parked cars, I guess to wait for someone else to hit on. I stopped a lady going towards them, pointing at them and told her about how I was sent an e-mail at work about someone walking up to you at the malls or in parking lots and asking you to SNIFF PERFUME that they are selling at a cheap price.THIS IS NOT PERFUME…IT IS ETHER!When you sniff it, you’ll pass out. They’ll take your wallet, your valuables and heaven knows what else.If it were not for this e-mail, I probably would have sniffed the ‘perfume’ but thanks to the generosity of an e-mailing friend, I was spared whatever might have happened to me.I wanted to do the same for you.PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO ALL YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS AND PLEASE BE ALERT AND BE AWARE. IF YOU ARE A MAN AND RECEIVE THIS, PASS IT ON TO YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS.Ladies, this happened to me yesterday and I didn’t smell the perfume either, thanks to this email. This is true. Believe me, I know. I was over by Big Lots in the parking lot at lunch time when I was approached. So either day or night, it does not matter. There were 3 guys together when I was approached. I called the police when I got back to my desk. Like the email says above, LET EVERYONE KNOW ABOUT THIS – YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, CO-WORKERS, whomever. It helped me. The first thing that popped into my head was this e-mail warning.