Thursday, January 31, 2008

Niggardly Canadians

National Post [Canada]
24 January 2008

In the U.S. south, is Canadian a new racial slur?

Graeme Hamilton, National Post

[...] "Canadian" has apparently become a code word for blacks among American racists. [...]

National Post [Canada]
30 January 2008


The 'N' & 'C' words

While visiting in Florida last spring, our niece informed us that people in the service industry there don't like Canadians because they are known as bad tippers. It is possible that someone had made a comment about a niggardly tip from a Canadian customer and, since Southerners can be assumed to meet the North American average as poor spellers, "Canadian" became a code for the N-word.

Bruce R. Barlow, Nanaimo, B.C.

Super Bowl Flush

Chatham Daily News [ON]
31 January 2008

Super flush Sunday an urban myth?; Claims of annual sewage surge debated


Microwaved Baby

Associated Press
31 January 2008

Woman on Trial in Baby's Microwave Death


DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - A woman accused of killing her month-old daughter by burning her in a microwave confessed to the crime, saying the baby "fit right in" the oven, a prosecutor said Thursday.

"'I killed my baby.' Those are the words of the defendant," prosecutor Daniel Brandt said during opening statements in the death penalty trial of mother China Arnold. [...]

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Impromptu IDs

Daily Mail [Charleston, West Virginia]
28 January 2008

Mayor without license uses magazine as ID

by Matthew Thompson
Daily Mail staff

A recent trip to California turned into a tense situation for Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.

Jones was detained for a short time at John Wayne Airport in Orange County after trying to use an expired driver's license to board the plane.

He had to flip open a copy of a locally produced magazine, with his picture inside identifying him as the mayor of Charleston, before officials would finally let Jones fly back home. [...]

[The above report belongs to the category of Impromptu IDs. Here are some similar items. -- bc]

John Train, True Remarkable Occurrences. NY: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1978, p. 56.

NEW YORK -- Sharon Mitchell, heroine of the X-rated Captain Lust, was having trouble cashing a check in a New York bank because she was not carrying a driver's license or any other identification.

She was carrying a magazine in which she appeared in the nude. She handed over the magazine, hitched her sweater up to her chin, and arranged herself in the same pose.

They cashed her check. -- London Sunday Telegraph Magazine.

[See also <>.]

Times of London
18 June 2002

Letters to the Editor

Proof positive

Sir, In 1903 Caruso made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. One story goes that in trying to cash a cheque at a nearby bank he was frustrated by the teller's insistence on proof of identity (letters, May 22, 23 and 25; June 1 and 8).

Irritated, Caruso sang at him. He got his money.

Yours faithfully,
Bancroft Park,
Little Abington, Cambridge CB1 6BQ.
June 14.


Post-Courier [Papua New Guinea]
29 July 2002


CHIEF Somare has an ID problem in PNG. He can't go anywhere without being recognised. But when he strolled into a bank in Brisbane recently, it was the opposite. The teller wanted to see some ID. The Chief dug out a K50 note, the one with his whiskered features on it. Bank teller slumps back in his little cubicle and relents. It was possibly the first time he had come face to face with a man whose own face was on the money he was exchanging.

Sydney Morning Herald
31 July 2002

Column 8

Mal Booth, ex-Cremorne, now of Palo Alto, is not so sure about the story of Michael Somare identifying himself with a PNG K50 note bearing his face (Column 8, Tuesday). "When I worked in Brunei, a similar story was told about the Sultan of Brunei on a visit to London. He tried to use a credit card in a shop, but they wanted photo ID. A minder produced a Brunei dollar with the Sultan's face on it, and the card was accepted. An urban legend?"

Sydney Morning Herald
1 Aug 2002

Column 8

The Somare/Brunei story in which the subject uses his face on his country's currency to identify himself (Column 8, yesterday) may be an urban myth (or, as Gordon Pelletier, of Artarmon, suggests for the Sultan of Brunei, a turban myth). But some of this is as true as when we ran it in 1995, and thanks to Rob McCusker, of Balmain for reminding us about it.

Alex Stanimirovitch, of Wangaratta, at Copenhagen Airport, tried to make a purchase with a new Australian $20 note, but the vendor was suspicious and called police. Then from behind Alex came a voice (he says): "Excuse me, that's real, and see the signature here." The stranger matched the signature on the note with his passport signature - Bernie Fraser, then governor of the Reserve Bank. So Bernie reckons he was there but didn't intervene - but heck, it's a great story, isn't it?

Sydney Morning Herald
2 Aug 2002

Column 8

We have another urban myth. There was some doubt expressed when we told the story of Michael Somare identifying himself in a Brisbane bank, using a PNG 50 kina note bearing his face (Column 8, Tuesday), and then a similar story came about the Sultan of Brunei. Then it was Bernie Fraser, governor of the Reserve Bank (Column 8, yesterday) identifying his signature on a $20 note. And since then we've heard of Nugget Coombs, also governor, using a currency note bearing his signature to cash a cheque, and the same story was told about the secretary to the Treasury, Sir Roland Wilson, only he was stopped for speeding in the ACT. His identity was challenged, so he whipped out a 10 shilling note with his signature. We also hear that Sir Edmund Hillary was stopped in New Zealand while driving, and showed the traffic policeman a $5 note bearing his picture. Yet to come - Mary Reibey flashing a $20 note?


The Sun [UK]
2 Sept 2002

Face on record says Paul

PASSENGER Paul Lynch stunned airport security staff when he proved his identity by showing them the cover of a Guinness Book of Records.

Paul, 39, did not have any photo ID with him when he checked in at Stansted for a no-frills Go flight to Edinburgh.

But he is the record holder for single-figure press-ups. And the cover of the 1996 edition of the famous book clearly shows him doing his amazing feat. He is named inside.

Paul from Northern Ireland, who now lives in Balham, South West London, said last night: "The check-in girl laughed when I opened the book and showed her the reference to my record.

"She agreed it was me and contacted a supervisor who said I could fly." [...]

Peter Hay, The Book of Business Anecdotes. New York: Wings Books, 1993 [1988], p. 27.

In the nineteenth century, an American bank cashier named Foster was presented with a check by a strange man.

"I wished him to be identified," the teller recounted, "and he said it was impossible, as he had no acquaintances in the city, and the man seemed quite disappointed. Suddenly a happy thought presented itself to him, and he began to unbutton his vest and pull up his shirt, remarking that it was all right, he had got his name on his shirt flap. It was such a novel idea, and the check being for a small amount, I concluded to pay, and he went away happy."


The Dispatch [Gilroy, CA]
7 March 2006

Man uses Most Wanted photo as ID

Gilroy - A man loitering outside D-Mart pulled out the Dispatch's Most Wanted section when police asked him for identification Sunday.

Cesar Montoya, 19, who was captured by Gilroy Police on a $15,000 warrant for possession of a controlled substance last month - but was released on bail - was standing outside D-Mart with a two other men when police approached.

According to Sgt. Wes Stanford, after an officer questioned who they were Montoya pulled out an old Dispatch Most Wanted list he had cut out.

"I'm Cesar Montoya," he said, pointing to his mug shot, police said. "'See, that's me.'"

According to police, Montoya was using the information from the Most Wanted list as his form of identification since he does not have one.

The New Yorker, 15 March 1952, p. 26.


A Princeton lady shopper at Macy's, short of money in the late afternoon, asked a clerk if he would cash a small check for her so she could take the 5:05 home. He called the section manager, who asked her if she had any identification. After rummaging in her bag, she said no. Then she had a thought. She pulled a book from under her arm and said, "But look, I'm reading Trollope. Will that do?" The section manager was a Princeton man. He reached for his wallet and cashed the check, which did not bounce.

The New Yorker, 18 Feb 1961, p. 33.

The Test

A young woman we know who teaches English at a college upstate was in town recently on a shopping mission. Having made a large purchase of books at a local store, she reached for her checkbook to pay for it. The clerk informed her that he could not accept a check from an unfamiliar customer. Then, seeing that she was deeply disappointed, the clerk asked her what she did. "I teach college English," she answered, with new hope. "Where was T. S. Eliot born?" the clerk asked. "In St. Louis, Missouri," our friend answered immediately. He took her check.

The New Yorker, 30 July 1979, p. 50.


Anthony Bailey

[Henry Geldzahler, New York City Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, is one of painter David Hockney's best friends.] Once, in London, when Geldzahler wanted to cash a check, Hockney drew a sketch of him to introduce him to the local bank manager, who took the drawing as evidence of good character and cashed the check. [...]


Time magazine
30 April 1979


[...] Talk about embarrassing moments. There was Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal in San Francisco's tony Beethoven's restaurant with a hefty dinner bill, an expired Visa card and a waiter demanding extra identification for an out-of-state bank check. Blumenthal solved his predicament uniquely: producing a dollar bill, he invited the waiter to match the check signature against the neat W M Blumenthal inscribed on the greenback's lower right-hand corner. [...]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Human Tongue Served Up In Hospital

Ananova [UK]
29 January 2008

Human tongue served up in hospital

Authorities in Slovenia are investigating after a piece of human tongue was served up in a hospital canteen.

A doctor at the town hospital in Izola in southern Slovenia complained about the strange looking piece of meat in his meal after he ordered a chicken risotto in the hospital canteen. [...]

The spokesman told the main Slovenian daily paper Delo: "I can say clearly that we have never used patients parts in any of our dishes."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Highway Sheila"

The Sunday Tribune [South Africa]
27 January 2008

Sheila's myth still haunts 'hell' highway

By Doreen Premdev

The saga of "Highway Sheila" continues to haunt residents of Chatsworth in KwaZulu-Natal, with some claiming that the horrific accident in December last year that took five lives was part of her annual "quota of lives" on Higginson Highway. [...]

[The article includes a "vanishing hitchhiker" story. Mirrored at:]

The Independent [South Africa]
27 January 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

South Korean Singer Denies Castration Rumors

25 January 2008

South Korea holds breath as singer drops trousers

SEOUL (Reuters) - An ageing South Korean crooner stunned a live, national TV audience on Friday by dropping his trousers and saying he was ready to prove he had not been castrated or dismembered in a love quarrel.

Na Hoon-a, who can still fill concert halls with legions of his middle-aged fans, spoke at a packed news conference to deny rumors he had been castrated or had his penis cut off by a Japanese "yakuza" gangster. [...]

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) [South Korea]
28 January 2008

Na Hoon-a and the Posion of Celebrity Rumor

Rumors about the Na Hoon-a started to die down on Friday, when the veteran pop singer in a press conference threatened to take drastic action to prove he was in one piece. But the saga revealed the collective voyeurism of the yellow press in dealing with rumors about celebrities' private lives, and the way such rumors ramify on the Internet. [...]

Gang Initiation Rumors, Alabama (2)

WKRG-TV [Mobile, AL]
24 January 2008

Double Murder Spreads Fear

By Jessica Taloney

[...] More than ten days have passed since the murders [of Meleah Griffin and Dominick Johnson], and with no arrest, rumors are starting to spread through town.

"We have spent, I couldn't even guess at the amount of hours trying to rundown rumors," said George County Sheriff Garry Welford.

An email and a cell phone text message are circulating, warning women about a new gang initiation. The only way to get in the gang, according to the message, is to rape and kill a woman. [...]

Stolen Penguin

The Evening Star [Auburn, IN]
26 January 2008

Penguins in Indiana?

Lindsay Brown

[The columnist's husband told her a story he had heard from a co-worker about a little boy who stole a penguin from Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.]

After I quit laughing and crying, I told my husband, "This is a story for the paper."

Well, his co-worker didn't come back with a name of the family, so I called Shedd Aquarium. The woman in marketing explained she hears this story once every few years. [...]

An Uneasy Question for the Tuskegee Airmen

St. Petersburg Times [FL]
26 January 2008

An uneasy question for the Tuskegee Airmen

The heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen is legendary, but some wonder if they really never lost a bomber. And that doesn't sit well.

By WILLIAM R. LEVESQUE, Times Staff Writer

It is an enduring legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, repeated by Hollywood, presidents and by the pioneering black pilots themselves:

They never lost a bomber they escorted in air-to-air combat during World War II.

In 2004, a black Navy veteran, history buff and longtime Tuskegee fan stood before the group and uttered the unforgiveable.

He called the record a myth. [...]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Super Bowl Halftime Flush

Frederick Kaufman, "Wasteland: A Journey Through the American Cloaca." Harper's Magazine, February, 2008, p. 50.

[Steve Askew, superintendent of New York's North River Wastewater Treatment Plant, gave a tour of the plant to the writer, who learned that the greatest increase in the amount of incoming waste water] occurs between eight and nine in the morning, when the city's output swells from 70 million to 150 million gallons per day. This is known as the big flush. Now it was 11:00 A.M., and in a few hours the circadian flow of biology en masse would begin to diminish, eventually bottoming out around four in the morning, at 68 million gallons per day. The rhythm is as steady as the tides. "The Super Bowl halftime surge is a myth," said Askew.

Singapore Legends, Rumors, Folk Beliefs

Tee Hun Ching, ed., Singapore Urban Legends[:] Myths & Mysteries. Singapore: SPH Magazine Pte Ltd, 2005. 92 pp. ISBN 981-05-4731-5

1-5 Rumour has it that to keep customers coming back for more, satay hawkers [at the Satay Club at the Old Esplanade] went to great lengths to spice up their gravy.

The story went that they borrowed from black magic rituals and added "special ingredients" like dirty underwear and soiled sanitary napkins.

"I'm not sure how it began," recalled bank officer Janice Chen, 32. "But when I was a kid, I heard from a friend who, as usual, heard from a friend's friend and so on, that someone had gone to the gravy pot for a second helping and fished out a soiled sanitary napkin."

6-10 An e-mail says that a 2km-wide asteroid will come crashing down in 2019 and take out a continent upon impact. [Asteroid 2002 NT7 will miss Earth, NASA assures us.]

11-17 A recruit who died during his Basic Military Training is said to haunt the barracks in Pulau Tekong. [Some say the recruit was discovered on the route march trail, his entrails laid alongside his body. In another version, the soldier was found impaled on an entrenching tool.]

18-22 Rodents crawl into vending machines and contaminate canned drinks, leading to sometimes fatal diseases for consumers[.] [...] An employee at a company which operates vending machines here revealed this after some persuasion: A few years back, some of the company's employees discovered a desiccated rat in one of its vending machines at a shipyard.

23-7 [A widely-circulated e-mail on how to identify a stroke victim could actually be "useful for the layman," a doctor suggests.]

28-32 [Breaking a mirror leads to seven years of bad luck.]

33-7 Some believe evil will befall anyone who steps on food offerings for hungry ghosts.

38-43 Buy pirated DVDs from Malaysia and you will find the police waiting for you back home in Singapore. [...] Circulated mostly by word of mouth from as early as the mid-1990s, it has become part of local folklore that plays on people's ignorance and fear of violating laws on video piracy.

44-8 An e-mail claims that a "mermaid" was found on a beach in India following the Dec 26, 2004 tsunami, and is now in a museum. [Mathavai Mohan, the education officer of the Government Museum in Chennai, denies the story. Juan Cabana, a Florida artist, claims the mermaid photo was taken from his website.]

49-52 [T]he Health Promotion Board [...] said there is little scientific evidence to support the belief that durian and alcohol make a lethal combination.

Most reports are anecdotal, said Dr Annie Ling, who heads the board's Nutrition Department. "There have been a very limited number of studies to verify the effects of mixing the two, and these have yielded findings that are contrary to common belief," she said.

53-7 Apparently, you can tell how long a man's penis is just by looking at other parts of his body, such as his hands and feet.

58-61 [A study supposedly published in the New England Journal of Medicine claims that staring at a woman's breasts is good for a man's health. The journal's media relations executive denies that any such research was published, anywhere.] The report also appeared in the Business Times in Singapore under a tongue-in-cheek column called Straws In The Winds on June 23, 2000. The journalist who picked the story had no memory of its source.

62-6 [W]hen we received an e-mail containing a health warning about cancer-causing disposable chopsticks which were made in China, we took it seriously. The e-mail came with a JPEG attachment which contained four paragraphs of text in Chinese, along with a badly translated English version.

Here is our translation of it: "This is a real case. If you want, you can try and soak a pair of disposable chopsticks in hot water for about three to five minutes. You will then see bleach dissolving in the water." [...]

[The e-mail quotes a Professor Chantal Chao Co-shi, who urges people not to use disposable chopsticks.] Unlike many other e-mail hoaxes which invariably use dreamt-up names to spin entertaining yarns, a quick check on the Internet found that Prof Chantal Chao Co-shi exists. [...]

When we called Prof Chao at the university, all we got was a recorded message saying she was not in.

67-71 A woman chances upon a lost child. The child has a slip of paper with an address and asks to be taken home. The woman decides to help the kid.

But when she rings the doorbell of the house, she gets an electric shock and faints. When she wakes up the next day, she finds herself in an empty house up on a hill -- naked. [...]

[T]he story disturbed Singaporean housewife Julia Gob enough for her to forward it to her friends, which was how we got hold of it.

When we rang her, she said she had received the e-mail from a friend. She sent it to others because "it reminds me of the Cantonese saying 'hou sum mou hou bou' (kindness does not beget kindness).

"If the story's true, then it's very chilling," the 38-year-old added.

[The writer asks an engineering professor and an electrician whether it would be feasible to rig up a doorbell to give an electric shock.]

72-8 What lurks in darkened cinemas? Plenty of ghost tales, including that of a little girl and the toys she leaves behind. [...]

Mr Charles Goh, the founder of Asia Paranormal Investigators (API), said another popular myth is of cinemas saving theatre seats for "hiah di".

"Hiah Di" is Hokkien for brothers, but can also be used as a term of respect for spirits.

"The ticket auntie at old theatres had floor plans and would mark out the seats we chose in blue crayon. But there would be seats marked in red," he said. "And when I sat close to these seats, I would find them chained up." [...]

Cinema operators explained that, yes, some seats are "reserved" in their multiplexes. But there is a simple, down-to-earth reason for it.

The seats are for last-minute emergencies, such as relocating patrons -- living ones -- who discover they have faulty seats, or when one seat has been assigned to two people.

This was especially common in the past when seat allocation was done using paper plans and pens instead of computers, as it is today.

79-83 Rumour has it that a female undergraduate drowned in a lake at the Nanyang Technological University and her spirit still haunts it. [Other campus ghosts are discussed.]

84-8 [Suntec City's Fountain of Wealth, listed as the world's largest fountain in The Guinness Book of Records, brings prosperity to visitors and nearby businesses.] Suntec City could not confirm if fengshui experts had a hand in the design, although it did not rule out the possibility.

89-92 It is late at night and you are on the last train.

It has been a long day. All you want is to head home, have a hot shower and hit the sack. The train, which is bound for Kranji, pulls into Bishan MRT station and you prepare to alight.

To your astonishment, it does not stop. Furious, you confront the driver and demand to know why. He asks you how many passengers you saw waiting on the platform. Ten to 15, you say.

He replies: "I saw more than 50 people and some were without faces. That's why I didn't stop."

Or so the story goes, according to an e-mail that landed in our computer inbox recently.

It claims that the last train that terminates at Kranji sometimes "does not stop and skips Bishan altogether," resulting in "a lot of people cursing, especially since it is the last train."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bus Driver to Goth: "No Dogs Allowed"

Daily Mail [UK]
22 January 2008

Goth who walks fiancée on a leash is banned by bus driver who told him: 'No dogs allowed'

A goth, who likes to take his fiancée out for a stroll on a leash, claims that a bus driver told them "no dogs allowed" and banned them from boarding. [...]

[The article reports that, although Dani Graves regularly took his girlfriend "round on a lead, they always took it off before getting on a bus as it could be dangerous." The bus driver allegedly told Tasha Maltby that "we don't let freaks and dogs like you on." It isn't clear that the more direct and succinct phrase, "No dogs allowed", was actually used, but expect it to occur in retellings, as well as the detail that the goth girl was still on a leash when she attempted to board the bus.]

Sunday, January 20, 2008

University of Kentucky Drops Holocaust Studies (2)

Herald-Leader [Lexington, Kentucky]
20 January 2008

Viral vicious rumor

By Art Jester

Be careful: There is more than one UK.

If you don't know this, you could start an international hoax on the Internet, just like the one that has bedeviled the University of Kentucky since last April.

UK officials say they have been overrun with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of e-mail inquiries in the past 10 months, after someone alleged on the Internet that UK was no longer teaching about the Holocaust because it might offend Muslims. [...]

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Deadly Phone Virus

AngolaPress [Luanda, Angola]
19 January 2008

Mobile Phone Operator Denies Virus Rumours

Luanda, 01/19 – Angolan privately owned mobile phone operator, UNITEL, Saturday in Luanda, considered as groundless and unreliable rumours circulating in the capital, Luanda, that a deadly computing virus has been introduced on the country’s telephone network.

The company`s official, Henrique da Silva, who considered the rumours as a “bad joke”, told ANGOP that this lacks scientific grounds.

"It’s a bad joke, and we are asking our customers to keep calm and we encourage you to handle your cellphones without any problems. There is no computing virus causing death to human beings", stressed the official. [...]

[Nigeria, 2004]
19 July 2004

'Killer' GSM Call Scare Spreads

Daily Champion (Lagos)
July 17, 2004

Chukwiemeka Okoro, Ken Nwogbo, Remi Nweke, and Nkiru Okeke Lagos and Enugu

PANIC over alleged "killer" GSM phone calls spread Thursday, with subscribers in Enugu fretting over which calls to take and which to ignore, for safety.

In the coal city, many subscribers rushed to hospitals to confirm the state of their health after news spread that certain GSM phone numbers were death knell once the receiver said, "Hello." [...]

BBC News
19 July 2004

Panic at Nigerian 'killer calls'

Nigerian mobile phone users have been anxiously checking who is calling them before answering them in recent days.

A rumour has spread rapidly in the commercial capital, Lagos, that if one answers calls from certain "killer numbers" then one will die immediately. [...]

The Age [Melbourne]
20 July 2004

'Killer numbers' hoax causes panic in Nigeria


A Nigerian mobile telephone firm is seeking to quash a widespread rumour that users answering calls from two "killer numbers" have been struck dead on the spot.

Over the weekend Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, was gripped by reports that calls from the numbers 0802 311 1999 and 0802 222 5999 had slain subscribers who answered them. [...]

The Independent [South Africa]
22 July 2004

Panic spreads over 'killer' cellphone numbers

By Dulue Mbachu

Lagos -- Oluchi Azubogu took no chances after receiving an ominous text message stirring fear in Nigeria.

The message warned that she would die if she took calls from two listed phone numbers.

"I switched off my mobile phone and took no calls at all," the 22-year-old university student said. Quickly she alerted her parents and six friends. [...]
23 July 2004

Lagos: Anxiety Over 'Satanic' GSM Phone Numbers

This Day (Lagos)

Strange claims of killer GSM phone numbers is causing panic among subscribers in Lagos, Yemi Akinsuyi reports

It remains a misery how it all began. The police have tried to dismiss it as hog wash, saying they have received no report so far of any victim.

So is one of the GSM network operators, V Mobile, but the claims persist, spreading all over and causing so much anxiety among GSM mobile phone subscribers. The situation is not being helped by some churches, who have repeatedly warned their followers on the consequences of answering calls of the purported 'satanic' numbers' or even being called on the numbers.

As the claim goes, receiving a call from any of the numbers results in the receiver vomiting blood to death. [...]
23 July 2004

Telecom Operators Count Losses From Killer Phone Rumours

Vanguard (Lagos)

Godfrey Ikhemuemhe

OPERATORS in the telecommunications industry yesterday recounted the damage which the rumour that some phone calls could cause instant death has done to their business in the past two weeks since it broke. This is following the reported mob attack on the owner of one of the numbers peddled as a death number.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators (ALTON) yesterday, Ogugua Chioke, chairman of the Regulatory Committee of the association contended that the rumour was an indication that some people wanted to damage the investment of telecommunications operators in the country. [...]

The Sun [Nigeria]
22 July 2004

Do you believe a man can be killed through GSM call?

By Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye

Nigerians have been having sleepless nights over the rumour that certain telephone numbers are allegedly killing people. The numbers, 08011123999, 08022225999, 08023111999, reports claimed have either killed or maimed their receivers.

Daily Sun went to town to get the opinion of people on the alleged killer phone-numbers. [...]
23 July 2004

GSM Death Knell: Subscriber's Life Under Threat

Daily Champion (Lagos)


THE Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has added voice in condemning the recent hoax story, that certain Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) numbers were killer numbers, saying it is "scientifically impossible".

This is coming as the continued threat on the life of one and only viable subscriber in the 'death knell' hoax, has earned him a new mobile phone free, while the hitherto GSM line reportedly involved has since been blocked. [...]

Daily Times [Lagos, Nigeria]
26 July 2004

Phantom phone calls?

Fear and confusion reigns over strange tales of harmful phone numbers. Operators insist the claims are unscientific and superstitious, probably the work of dupes. But fresh "evidences" appear to puncture puncture these arguments. . JULIUS OLOYEDE reports. [...]

The Vanguard [Nigeria]
26 July 2004

GSM :- The killer phone rumour ... operators cry foul

By Godfrey Ikhemuemhe

FOR those who started the killer phone rumour, they have hit the raw nerve of telecommunications operators. True or false, the issue of phone calls causing instant death of receivers of such call has gained intensity in the country.

From Abuja to Lagos, from PortHarcourt to Maiduguri, from Ijebu Ode to Sokoto, the message is the same: take a call and die. [...]

The Daily Independent [Lagos, Nigeria]
26 July 2004

Group proffers solution to alleged killer GSM numbers

By Victor Ebimomi
reporter, Lagos

If you are afraid of the alleged GSM killer numbers, what you need do is to put a solid rock otherwise known as Ako Okuta in Yoruba language in any pocket of the clothe you wear.

This seemingly simple therapy will not only protect you from the deadly effect of the so called killer numbers, but it might also lead to a boomerang effect on the evil callers. [...]

Vanguard [Lagos]
28 July 2004

Killer GSM calls: Hoax or reality?

The killer phone call began as a baseless rumour but it is now spreading like wild-fire as more and more Nigerians testify to how they became victims, report Okey Ndiribe and Mike Ebonugwo. [...]
29 July 2004

Why Nigerians Should Ignore 'Killer' Numbers

Remmy Nweke

Daily Champion (Lagos)

Nigeria has achieved over six million subscribers mark on its Global System for Mobile (GSM) alone within three years, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and is seen as the fastest growing telecom market in Africa.

This may not have gone down well with some people, who think they ought to benefit from the market.

These people, believed to have masterminded the unhealthy reports in the media recently, including the rumoured 'GSM killer numbers' which were nicknamed 'Evil numbers' by Lagosians. [...]
29 July 2004

Bus Stop Parliament :- Answer This Call And Die

Vanguard (Lagos)

July 28, 2004

Mike Ebonugwo

THE mini-van commercial bus left the Ikeja Bus-Stop and was heading for Mile Two. Suddenly there was a sweet melodious sound from the handbag of a lady sitting beside the conductor in the middle row seat. She quickly unzipped the bag and brought out a GSM handset. But instead of answering the call, the lady took one look at her set, frowned and quickly pressed the reject key.

However, after some seconds, the phone resumed its musical ringing. But this time the lady ignored it. Either puzzled or curious about the lady's attitude one of the passengers in the bus had drawn her attention to the phone. "My sister, answer your phone now," urged the man who gave his name as Osaro.

But the lady by name Agatha had quickly retorted with a vigorous shake of the head: "No-oo, I don't know who's calling. I'm seeing that number for the first time and I don't know anybody who can be calling me with it. With what is happening in this country now, one has to be careful before you answer any call from a strange number." [...]

Saturday Punch [Nigeria]
31 July 2004


Businesses suffer setback as rumour about evil GSM numbers spreads

People of the world will think we are mad

Vincent Akanmode and Ayodele Ale

These certainly are not the best of times for cell phone users across the country, particularly members of the business community. For the past two weeks the rumour of deadly GSM numbers has been spreading like a wild fire, setting many phone users on edge with regards to their safety.

Like most other rumours that have been peddled in recent times, it is one that has no scintilla of linkage with scientific thinking. In other words, it is a rumour that seeks to celebrate superstition. Its substance is that there is now a set of mobile phone numbers on parade and any subscriber who is unfortunate enough to answer calls that are made with those numbers is guaranteed instant death after vomitting some quantity of blood. [...]

The Guardian [Nigeria]
2 Aug 2004


Pandemonium over GSM killer numbers

SIR: The said killer/evil GSM telephone number that is causing so much havoc in the country now is nothing but a hype or farce.

The truth about the whole story is that some smart Nigerians with their foreign collaborators have been experimenting on some techniques to beat the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to their own game. They (the hackers) are trying to find a way to access the various available networks through an unauthorised frequency, and in so doing, there would be a violent reaction which is caused by radioactive or hyperactive (abnormally active) sound. This in turn causes a brainstorm (violent mental disturbance) which eventually will result to brain haemorrhage (profuse bleeding). [...]
2 Aug 2004

This Day (Lagos)

A Society And Its Beliefs

Uddin Ifeanyi

[…] And there is no argument but that the national psyche is pre-industrial. Or how else to interpret "killer phone" scare currently making the rounds in the country? The basic outline of the story is simple: some malefactor calls his/her intended victim across one of the global system for mobile communication (GSM-based) networks and any of several things happen to the one receiving the call: vertigo, haemorrhage, even death! Why would any one do this? Again, for material gain. Apparently, there are certain pre-Christian or fetish practices, which make it possible for practitioners to parlay the life essence of their victims into hard cash.
4 Aug 2004

Sketches :- The Mobile Phone Saga

Vanguard (Lagos)

Aig Imoukhuede

Things have come to a pretty pass, when a man jumps like a scared rabbit when his mobile phone rings. He takes the phone out of his pocket and stares at it, as if it was a cobra coiled to strike. Then, mumbling something that sounds like a last prayer, he presses the "OK" button and listens. In one recent case the call was from the man's daughter, and all she wanted to do was say hello. It was not, as he had feared, a call from a blood-sucking demonic agent intent on snuffing out his life by remote control. [...]
4 Aug 2004

Midweek Features :- Arrest Phone Scare Peddlers--Chris Uwaje

Vanguard (Lagos)

Mike Ebonugwo

One question that was repeatedly asked during the 11th edition of the Telecoms Consumers Parliament last week Wednesday bordered on the mystery surrounding the so-called killer phone calls that have been reported in Lagos and other parts of the country. Those who asked the question wanted representatives of operators present to explain what was happening and to give assurance that Nigerians are safe in using their phones, especially the global system for mobile communication (GSM). [...]
4 Aug 2004

Two Collapse in Calabar After Receiving GSM Phone Call

Vanguard (Lagos)

George Onah

THE GSM killer numbers may have got the first victims in Calabar, Cross River State after two members of a family collapsed last week after receiving a call. They were however revived only by their neighbours. Trouble started for the Ibor Ubi family of No. 99 Old Odukpani road, Calabar, when Samuel, 16, and his sister, Blessing, 28, got a call through Blessing's handset.

According to Samuel, who is an SS2 student in Calabar, "my sister's phone rang and because she was busy in one part of our room I had to carry the phone. When I looked at the screen, I saw a number and not a name, I hesitated before answering and when I put the phone to my ears, there was a background noise. I then said hello, after which a man coughed in the phone and I did not know anything again." [...]

The Sun [Nigeria]
4 Aug 2004

Killer phone calls: Fact or farce?

By Wale Sokunbi <>

Rumour mongers should devote their energies to looking for ways to move this country forward. We have the best brains in the world.

Sensationalising issues is more or less the common practice in this part of the world. Rumours spread like wild fires. Opportunists take advantage of the situation to create havoc, dupe or coerce people into parting with money.

I feel real bad because Nigeria once again is at the verge of public ridicule as a result of our actions and inactions. The news all over the place now is that a mere phone call can and has sent people to their graves. [...]

Vanguard [Lagos, Nigeria]
20 Aug 2004

SPEAKING OUT :- GSM and other bugs


[…] It is difficult to tell from where exactly that the widespread rumours (and they can safely be called that) came from, about the GSM phone bug which has been said to have hit a good number of Nigerians which patronize - to their supposed peril - GSM services in Nigeria. And so, though no one has met or seen anyone who has been bitten by the GSM bug, nearly everyone has heard of the aunt of someone's step brother or the colleague of the husband of someone's cousin, who has been struck.

Accounts of the details of how the bug strikes has shown it to be a rather versatile and imaginative bug, with variations ranging from mild headaches and strong concussions, to copious bleeding from the nose and ears, to instant madness to loss of consciousness and, in extreme cases, even death. [...]

Champion [Nigeria]
20 Aug 2004

From Indomie to GSM, which product is next?

[…] Then came the turn of the GSM killer calls. According to the reports, answering a call from some GSM numbers like 08011123999 or 08022225999 can result in death.

When the news erupted, GSM subscribers were sent scampering as many switched off their phones or even refused to take their calls.

The hoax was somehow lent credence when it was reported that a 33-year old mother of three, Mrs. Toyin Lasisi, who lives at 12 Balogun Street, Alapere Ketu, collapsed after reportedly receiving a call on her GSM phone. She was reported to have been in her shop at Ikosi-Ketu Motorpark when she received the call. The incident took place penultimate Thursday. [...]

[India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries, 2006-2007];_ylt=Avj2AHRA2o8QjeIGiQQ6t4ugOrgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--

Yahoo! News
28 March 2006

'Devil' mobile phone calls spark panic in east India

BHUBANESWAR, India (AFP) - Authorities moved to quash panic among mobile phone users in eastern India after a rumour that "devil calls" from certain numbers have led to death and illness.

People started turning off their handsets after a rumour swept Orissa state of phones exploding like bombs killing their owners when they answered the calls.

The random "devil calls" supposedly started Sunday from phones with 11 to 14 digit numbers instead of the regular 10, said an official from India's state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam phone company. [...]

New Kerala [India]
28 March 2006

Mobile calls create panic in Orissa

Bhubaneswar, Mar 27 : Panic struck mobile phone users in Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar after they got calls since morning today that told them they were being 'harmed' by receiving the calls.

Since early morning, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack police had been receiving hundreds of panic calls and most callers said they had been told that those receiving the calls were being "harmed". [...] [India]
28 March 2006

Mobile call rumours spread panic in Orissa

Sampad Mahapatra and Purushottam Thakur

In Orissa, there was panic across the state following rumours that people who received calls on their mobile phones from certain numbers died instantly.

The calls come from phones with 12 or 14 digit numbers and since Sunday night, hundreds of people across Orissa kept sending information about a set of three mobile numbers to their near and dear ones.

The imaginary numbers which were in circulation were 94115817683, 91891555343 and 949522242. [...]

The Statesman [India]
28 March 2006

Death call via mobiles

Statesman News Service

BHUBANESWAR, March 27. From Lord Ganesh drinking milk to a fatal virus transmitted through mobile phone calls, rumour mongers have apparently kept pace with developing technology.

Cell phone users across the state were subjected to the dangers of responding to a call from a 11 digit number as the rumour spread like wild fire. [...]

Chandigarh Newsline [India]
27 March 2007

Rumour mill at work again, this time against mobile calls

Kapil Trikha

Abohar, March 26: After rumours about the earthquake, the rumour mills have started working again. This time, people are being told not to respond to phone calls on their mobiles from a particular number or the mobile may explode or the respondent may get a cardiac arrest if one receives such calls.

Rajat, a local businessman, told ENS that his father received a call from a relative from Chandigarh yesterday, cautioning him not to respond to calls made by a particular number, as the moment one respond to such calls, the mobile will explode. Baljeet Kaur, a schoolteacher, said she got a telephone call that one of their relatives died of cardiac arrest the moment he responded to a call which he received on his mobile. Raminder Singh, a JBT teacher, had another story to tell. He said he received a call from a friend in Chandigarh, who warned him to throw his mobile the moment he notices digits of a particular phone number. [...]

Greater Kashmir
30 March 2007

Haunted phones!

'It's a hoax'


Srinagar, Mar 29: As if death was only a call away. This fear spread like wildfire across the state and beyond with mobile subscribers high on nerves exchanging ‘dreaded’ SMSs since Wednesday evening that warned not to receive calls from some specific cell numbers – feared to bring death for the receiver.

However, the authorities confirmed it was hoax and asked people not to give ear to such rumours.

“Please don’t pick calls from 0000888800, 0000111000, 0115500000, 0008888899, 00009999900, 0088880004, 0004400044. These are viruses which resulted in death of several people including 50 in India...,” the SMS reads. [...]

India eNews
29 March 2007

Mobile phone explosions rumour rocks Kashmir

From correspondents in Jammu and Kashmir, India

Panic and fear gripped thousands of mobile phone users in Kashmir after rumours spread here that two people had died in explosions when they answered calls from some mysterious numbers.

Dumping their cell phones, users began using traditional landline phones to call up the local service providers asking them about the 'mysterious cell phone explosions'. [...]

Daily Times [Lahore, Pakistan]
11 April 2007

Phones off in fear of virus

DASKA: Rumours of a ‘Red Virus’ that attacks mobile phones convinced thousands of phone users in Daska and Sambrial tehsils to switch off their mobiles on Tuesday. Several phone users told Daily Times that they had kept their phones switched off for the day after friends and relatives had warned them of the “deadly virus”. The virus was said to manifest in the form of a strange number, accompanied by a picture of a woman, calling mobile phones. Answering the phone was said to result in an explosion fatal to the person receiving the call. Residents of Daska and Sambrial said they had received such calls and immediately switched their phones off. A spokesman for a leading mobile phone operator dismissed the virus as a rumour. “No virus is attacking mobile phones,” said the spokesman. zawar hussain syed

13 April 2007

Deadly virus phone threat causes Pakistan panic

KARACHI (Reuters) - Mobile service providers in Pakistan have been inundated by calls from subscribers worried by a prank message that they could die of a deadly virus being transmitted via their phones.

The rumor was so effective that some mosques in the country's biggest city, Karachi, made announcements that people were being killed by a mobile virus and they should be aware of God's wrath. [...]

Gulf News [United Arab Emirates]
14 April 2007

Widespread panic over mobile phone death threat

By Imtiaz Shah, Correspondent

Karachi: Mobile phone providers have hurriedly moved to calm subscribers after a widespread prank warned a deadly virus was being transmitted from phone to phone across the country warning people they would die if they answered the call.

"Do not answer any call from a four digit number. It's a virus which has a frequency more than your ear can hear. It will affect your brain and put you to death, be careful please. The number is 0099149," the short service message warned. [...]

Daily Times [Lahore, Pakistan]
14 April 2007

No cell virus: PTA

Mobile rumours from mosques

KARACHI: Rumours of a deadly virus being transmitted by via mobile phones have caused some mosques in the country’s biggest city, Karachi, to announce that people are dying of a mobile virus and that they should be wary of God’s wrath. Mobile service providers in Pakistan have been inundated by calls from subscribers worried by a message that they could die of a deadly virus being transmitted via their phones, reports Reuters. [...]

Daily Times [Lahore, Pakistan]
14 April 2007

The Grim Reaper has a phone number: ‘Death call from the dark side’ spooks Karachi

By Bilal Farooqi

KARACHI: Rumors of a ‘supernatural’ killer call on mobiles phones, that supposedly kills the person receiving the call by damaging their central nervous system and splattering the brain, have swept like wildfire among Karachiites.

According to these rumors, which are believed to have originated in Sialkot, the victim receives a call on his or her mobile phone in which a red-colored apparition of a woman appears on the display screen. There have been claims in the Punjab that many deaths have taken place by unsuspecting cell phone owners.

In Karachi, these rumors have taken on a whole new twist, as many now believe that besides death, this mysterious call can also result in impotency in men who receive the call, while the women end up becoming pregnant.

According to the rumors, the cause of this supernatural call is that some mobile phone company set up a tower at a graveyard, which enraged the spirits, causing them to wreak havoc among mobile phone users. [...]

16 April 2007

Deadly virus phone rumours frighten Afghans

KABUL (Reuters) - Rumors swept through Afghanistan on Monday that a deadly virus was being spread by mobile telephone calls, and government officials scrambled to reassure the public the talk was rubbish.

Many worried Afghan mobile phone users called family and friends, warning them not to answer calls from strange numbers. Some people said they had heard that several people had been killed by the mystery virus in Kabul at the weekend. [...]

Houston Chronicle
16 April 2007

Afghan Rumor Spreads of Cell Virus

The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan - Worried Afghans switched off their mobile phones and warned their friends and family to do the same, as rumors spread of a deadly virus that could be contracted by answering calls from "strange numbers." [...]

Middle East Times [Egypt]
16 April 2007

Taliban blamed for 'deadly phone virus' rumor

KABUL [AFP]-- Afghan authorities Monday blamed Taliban militants for spreading a rumor that a deadly virus is being transmitted via mobile telephones.

The rumor, which raced like wildfire late Sunday among the country's estimated 2 million cellphone users, said that anyone answering calls from certain numbers or codes would contract a fatal disease. [...]

The News International [Pakistan]
13 April 2007

The call of death rings on Friday the 13th


“Don’t pick the call from unknown numbers. It can be a call of death,” read a widely circulated text message on cell phones, which buzzed the country on Friday, April 13. This later proved to be a hoax but authorities and operators remain unable to trace the motive for this mischief. [...]

The News International [Pakistan]
19 April 2007

Phone virus rumour in NWFP

By Nisar Mahmood

PESHAWAR: The rumour of mobile virus and subscribers' falling unconscious through receiving an obnoxious call has created panic among people of the NWFP like other parts of the country.

Daily scores of consumers make phone calls to newspapers' offices asking if there is any reality in the rumour? Rumour-mongering club is joined by new members on daily basis and the situation has gone to the extent of quoting incidents of unconsciousness and subscribers' landing at hospitals are also being published. [...]

Institute for War and Peace Reporting [UK]
19 April 2007

Officials try to refute lurid tales of “lethal” phone calls, but word-of-mouth rumours prove stronger than truth.

By Hafizullah Gardesh in Kabul (ARR No. 250, 19-Apr-07)

The rumour gathered strength throughout the day. First there were a few calls from various provinces warning of a virus transmitted by mobile phone. By late afternoon on April 16, a wave of panic had engulfed the whole of Afghanistan.

Some people said that if you answered a call made from a certain number, you would begin to bleed from the ears and nose. Others insisted that the calls induced immediate heart attacks, strokes or convulsions. [...]

1 April 2007

Don't Touch That..."Answer Call" Button

So last week was kinda interesting, because a number of people stopped answering their cell phones. After a couple of conversations with Tibetan friends, Lena ferreted out the truth. They weren’t picking up calls because there were a couple of phone numbers…OF DOOM…that were known to kill people who answered calls from these numbers on their cell phones. Our friends all had stories they’d heard about folks who had just keeled right over dead, right after answering a call from one of the phone numbers…OF DOOM. [...],1,62465

Chicago Tribune
26 April 2007

Rumors of cell phone deaths greatly exaggerated

Tales of a virus that kills with one call became the talk of Pakistan, the Tribune's Kim Barker writes

By Kim Barker
the Tribune's South Asia correspondent

KARACHI, Pakistan -- The rumor spread quickly, from the small town of Sialkot to the nation, from cell phone to cell phone, friend to friend. The text messages warned of a virus if people answered phone calls from certain numbers.

The virus would not hurt the phone. Instead, in a scene out of a horror movie, it would kill the recipient. Immediately.

"Plz ignore calls frm 0A9-888888 or with screen with dancing snake & changing colours its a deadly virus and in some regions of Pakistan death are being reported," began one message.

Another said: "it's a virus to kill a person. Plz it's not a joke it's damn serious virous." [...]

Kuwait Times
27 April 2007

Ring of death a hoax

By By Shakir Reshamwala, Staff writer

Consider this. You get a call on your mobile phone. Then you are dead. If rumours flying around are to be believed, this mobile virus works this way: A person gets a call from an unidentified number. He or she picks up the phone. Poof! A brain haemorrhage and the person is dead or incapacitated. Rumours claim 21 people have died in Kuwait from this mobile virus, while many others are in hospital.

The hoax has caused panic and confusion among mobile phone users throughout South Asia and has now reached Kuwait and the Gulf. While few people actually believe the stories about the alleged "ring of death", the rumours have spread far and wide, with many sending the stories to their friends and family via text messages. Both mobile carriers in Kuwait, MTC and Wataniya, have dismissed the alleged killer mobile phone virus. There are more than 2.5 million mobile subscribers in Kuwait.

Theories abound about how this virus manages to kill its victims. The most prominent suggests that an extremely high-pitched screech is heard, which causes blood vessels in the brain to explode. This explanation has rightly been pooh-poohed, since a mobile phone speaker cannot produce such high-frequency sounds. One warning sign is that the killer number appears in red on the screen. That means those with monochrome displays are dead meat. It wouldn't be a surprise if there is a surge in sales of new cell phones. [...] [Ghana]
30 April 2007

Phone scare: Areeba says it's a hoax

MTN Areeba, the largest mobile phone network in Ghana, has described as a hoax rumours circulating that calls coming from certain numbers cause death or brain damage. [...]

Yemen Observer
22 May 2007

Rumors of deadly phone calls are false, say officials

Posted in: Front Page
Written By: Abdul-Aziz Oudah & Faisal Darem
Article Date: May 22, 2007 - 10:12:02 PM

Rumors that malefactors from the west are sending a deadly virus through mobile phones have sent Yemeni citizens into a panic, making them afraid to answer their phones. Although it is scientifically impossible to kill a person or infect them with a virus with a phone call, scores of people are anxiously scanning every incoming call, refusing to answer numbers they do not recognize. They are particularly fearful of any phone call that looks like it may be coming from abroad. [...]

Daijiworld [India]
21 June 2007

Udupi: SMS Scare Grips Town and around - Is it for Real?

Daijiworld Media Network - Udupi (SM/RD)

Udupi, Jun.21: An SMS, which is being forwarded by some unknown mobile owners around here during the past few days, has created a sense of fear among the mobile users.

The message, which proved to be a hoax, reads thus: “Do not pick calls from given numbers – 98883 08001, 93160 48121, 98762 66211, 98888 54137, 98767 15587, these numbers are displayed in red and calls from these cause brain haemorrhage because of very frequency. Twentyseven persons have died just on receiving call from these numbers- watch Aaj Tak, DD news and IBN 7.” [...]

Yemen Times
25 June 2007

The deadly virus of mobile

Khalid Al-Dhahbani

As days pass, we go through several technological, cultural, political, and oil-related technologies. We move from one century to another while our minds, as Arabs, remain the same without development and continue to imagine what is unbelievable and unreasonable. [...]

oHeraldo [Goa, India]
17 July 2007

`Red Alert' SMS puts mobile users in a fix


AGONDA, JULY 16 - Attending mobile calls may not be that safe in future, if one pays any serious attention to the rumor mongers who have lately divulged to spread fear in people's psyche to be careful while attending mobile calls.

It is learnt that some elements have reportedly in-scripted fear psychosis in people's mind that attending mobile calls received from a number displayed in colour `Red' on your mobile can create a `blast' sorts causing instant death. The rumormongers even spread the news about number of deaths occurred by such process to be specifically put at `27'. [...]

Times of India

23 August 2007

Killer SMS hoax doing rounds

MUMBAI: On Wednesday, an SMS started doing the rounds of cellphones. It urged people not to accept calls from a few numbers listed in the message.

If a call originated from any of these numbers, the message said, it would show up on their cellphone screens in red. On taking the call, the message added, a high-frequency sound would emanate.

It could cause the brain to haemorrhage and even kill. "27 persons died just on receiving these calls from these numbers," it added for good measure. [...]

The Mercury [South Africa]
26 April 2008

Red number is not a cause of death

Phnom Penh - Cambodian officials have moved to quell growing hysteria sparked by a rumour that a ghostly red number was appearing on mobile phones and killing people, local media and police said Saturday. [...]

Posts and Telecommunications Minister So Khun said the rumour was probably due to growing tension prior to scheduled national elections in July, the English-language Cambodia Daily reported. [...]

Police warned Saturday that if the culprit for this latest text-message-fuelled scare was found they would be prosecuted, but admitted Chinese whisper investigations of this nature were virtually impossible to trace. - Sapa-dpa

The Jakarta Post [Indonesia]
9 August 2008

Superstition goes digital: Witchcraft via SMS?

Ary Hermawan, The Jakarta Post

[...] In May this year, people in Sumatra were haunted by the so-called "SMS santet", a kind of evil sorcery sent via text messages on cell phones.

A rumor quickly spread across the country that a text message received from numbers starting with 0866 and 0666 could turn the color of a cell phone's screen red and kill the person who received it.

The police and religious leaders called on the public to stay calm, saying it was just a hoax -- but at the same time, the media fueled the terror by reporting stories of alleged "victims"; those who were fooled by tricksters. [...]

Agence France-Presse
25 March 2009

Egypt tries to hang up on killer SMS rumours

CAIRO (AFP) — The Egyptian government has sought to dispel rumours that a mobile phone text message "from unknown foreign quarters" is spreading around the country and killing those who receive it.

The extraordinary move by Egypt's health and interior ministries follows press reports that an SMS containing a special combination of numbers killed a man in the town of Mallawi south of Cairo.

"He died vomiting blood, followed by stroke, shortly after he received a message from an unknown phone number," the Egyptian Gazette reported on Wednesday. [...]

Haveeru Daily [Maldives]
5 May 2010

Behind the ‘Red Number Hoax’

By Ali Naafiz

[...] The rumours swept like wildfire among Maldivians on Tuesday, with chain messages warning the receiver not to answer calls from 7888308001, 9316048121, 9876266211, 9888854137 and 9876715587, “which would be in red colour.” Or else “you may get brain haemorrhage due to high frequency,” the texts read. They also claimed “27 people died just receiving the call,” urging the receiver to “watch DD News [an Indian public broadcaster] to confirm” the reports. [...]

Times of India
13 August 2010

Don't believe in rumours of 'deadly' phone calls

NAGPUR: The city has recently seen a slew of rumours doing the rounds on mobile phones, cautioning about calls coming from a few specific numbers, which would allegedly cause physical harm to the recipient.

On Thursday, the situation aggravated after rumours about deaths after answering such calls also started doing the rounds. Media houses got several calls enquiring about the 'danger' numbers and whether they had caused any deaths in the city or led to blasts of cellphones.

The police control room was also flooded with calls and enquiries. There was a call at the control room about a nine-year-old girl allegedly dying at Subhas Nagar and another of a teenager's death due to bleeding from ears after receiving the call at Siras Peth. [...]

Times of India
14 August 2010

Boy claims mobile injury, docs say no

Alka Panse, TNN

NAGPUR: Nagpur police has rubbished claims that a 15-year-old boy sustained mysterious injuries on his left eye while fiddling with a cellphone.

The incident was one of the several rumours of strange rays from cellphones claiming the lives of users which have been doing the rounds in the city. [...]

Communications Commission of Kenya
1 September 2010

CCK issues statement on alarming SMS message

The attention of the Commission has been drawn to SMS and email messages that are doing the rounds in the country warning mobile users against receiving calls from unknown or certain listed numbers. The messages further allege that receipt of calls from either the unknown or listed numbers would cause brain haemorrhage due to high frequency. [...]
Daily Nation [Kenya]
1 September 2010
CCK assures public over mobile phone hoax
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation
1 September 2010
Kenyan government dismisses "killer phone number" hoax'death%20call'%20SMS%20alerts%20as%20hoax
The Standard [Kenya]
1 September 2010
State dismisses 'death call' SMS alerts as hoax
By Mutinda Mwanzia and Daniel Nzia
Business Daily [Nairobi, Kenya]
1 September 2010
Phone hoax shifts focus to regulator’s ability to curb crime
By Okuttah Mark

The Citizen [Tanzania]
4 September 2010

Fears allayed over scaring text messages

By Al-amani Mutarubukwa

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has urged Tanzanians to ignore messages warning them against receiving calls from unknown or certain listed numbers. [...]


Sudan Tribune
8 September 2010

Allegations of deaths resulting from mobile phone calls are not true – Minister

By James Gatdet Dak

September 7, 2010 (JUBA) – The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Service in the Government of Southern Sudan, Madut Biar Yel, has dismissed as “mere rumors” the alleged death of people resulting from some mobile phone calls in Southern Sudan.

For the last five days, rumors spread among the population that there were certain strange phone numbers, when calls were being received from, immediately exploded on the receivers’ phones and caused injuries or deaths. A number of people across the region were alleged to have already died because of the phone explosions. [...]

The Assam Tribune [Guwahati, India]
14 September 2010

Panic in Barak valley over mysterious calls


HAILAKANDI, Sept 13 – People are falling ill after receiving anonymous calls from unknown numbers on mobile phones and it has led to panic among the people, mostly in the rural areas of the Barak valley, said a senior police official. On the other hand, there was no specific explanation from medical experts. [...]

Sify News [India]
26 September 2010

'Bombile' is the latest terror in Assam

Guwahati, Sep 26 (IANS) 'Bombile' is the latest phrase terrorizing Assam with reports of mobile phones suddenly exploding, causing the user to become unconscious. The mysterious phenomenon has prompted Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to order a scientific probe to unravel the bizarre occurrences. [...]

Morung Express [India]
25 September 2010

Assam’s mobile phones go “explode”
Newmai News Network

Guwahati - September 25 : They are mysterious cases but true. At least 15 people have been injured in the few days following the explosions of mobile phones after calls from certain numbers in the state of Assam. [...]

Morung Express [India]

‘Bombile’ scare rocks Nagaland

Dimapur September 28 : The “bombile” scare seems to have reached Nagaland as mobile subscribers are having second thoughts about receiving any calls from unknown new numbers. On Tuesday, September 28, stories aided by ‘SMSes’ spread like wildfire, about two people reportedly falling “victim” to the rumored ‘red calls’ in Dimapur. [...]
The Morung Express [India]
29 September 2010
No mobile phone threat

Champion Newspapers [Nigeria]
15 September 2011

Panic over death through GSM calls
It’s a mere hoax -- NCC

Charles Okoh, Deputy News Editor

Panic yesterday gripped mobile phone users in Nigeria as news spread that people were dying after answering calls on their mobile phones. [...]

Same article also available at
Nigeria: Panic Over Death Through GSM Calls -It's a Mere Hoax -- NCC
Charles Okoh

Fans Burned Hockey Star's Furniture

Edmonton Journal [Alberta, Canada]
19 January 2008

Fanning the embers of 'horrible' gossip

On U.S. radio, Pronger revives rumour that irate Oilers fans burned his furniture

David Staples, The Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - It's "horrible" for hockey superstar Chris Pronger to spread the rumour that someone in Edmonton burned his furniture, including his child's crib, after he was traded from the Oilers in July 2006, says Allan Watt, Edmonton Oilers vice-president of communications. [...]

Gang Initiation Rumor, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Thunder Bay's Source [Ontario, Canada]
18 January 2008

Internet attack threat circulated in U.S. city last year

Thunder Bay Police spokesman Chris Adams said Friday there is absolutely no substance to the reports that the safety of young women in the community may be at risk from a gang initiation rite.

Over the past several days reports have been circulating alleging members of a Winnipeg street gang have arrived in the city and as part of an initiation process new recruits were being compelled to participate in the sexual assault of young women. [...]

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gang Initiation: Kill White Person on Crosswalk

The Bridgeton News [NJ]
16 January 2008

Gang initiation e-mail not credible


MILLVILLE -- Police are calling an e-mail circulating throughout the city about a gang initiation ritual false. "It has been related to this department of an e-mail being sent to numerous areas of the city of information given by a Millville Police officer of a gang initiation where a new member would have to shoot a Caucasian person in a crosswalk," Ptl. Anthony Loteck said in a press release Tuesday. [...]

Hawk Picks Up Kindergartener

The Topeka Capital-Journal [Kansas]
16 January 2008

School's winged guest takes flight

Hawk had crashed into gym window at Avondale West

By Barbara Hollingsworth
The Capital-Journal

[A hawk crashed through a window of Avondale West Elementary School, leading to a rumor that it had "picked up a kindergartener, flown him across the gym and dropped him."]

The Too Clever Child

The Hindu Business Line [India]
17 January 2008

Leave them kids alone

Radhika Chadha

A family anecdote relates with pride the story of how a child suffered the ignominy of failing in his nursery test at school. When asked "what swims?", the child answered "crocodile"; to the question "what burns?", the answer was "toast". And when asked "how many legs does the horse have", he replied "three" and told his perplexed parent that it was a "lame horse". Sadly, the evaluator didn't see these zany and creative answers as merit-worthy and the child was denied admission. The happy ending, of course, is that he went on to join the IIT, the IIM-A, became a successful entrepreneur and author. [...]

12 Nuggets (Kids Can't Do Basic Math)

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
17 January 2008

Column 8

More on the subject of young people and basic maths (Column 8, since last week), from Tony, of Quakers Hill. "Try this - it's amusing and slightly disturbing. Go into a MacDonald's drive-through and order 12 nuggets. I guarantee that the reply will be 'Sorry, but we only sell them in packs of 6, 10 and 20'. That's the amusing part. If you want to carry it further (and risk feeling disturbed), you should answer 'Yes, I know'. There will be a prolonged silence as the attendant tries to sort out this dilemma. They will (eventually) come back with 'So what would you like, 6, 10 or 20?"' [...]

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Microsoft Takes 10 Years to Return Support Call

PC Pro [UK]
15 January 2008

Microsoft takes 10 years to return support call

We've all sat by the phone waiting for technical support desks to return our call, but a US blogger claims it took Microsoft a staggering 10 years to follow-up on a call he made in 1998. [...]

BIC's Bickerings [Blog]

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Microsoft Y2K bug circa 1998?

Quake Rumor Rattles Gisborne Residents

Stuff [New Zealand]
16 January 2008

Quake rumour rattles Gisborne residents

By GREER McDONALD - The Dominion Post

Gisborne residents have again been rattled after an American psychic's prediction that the Big One is coming caused some people to flee town. The woman's premonition - believed to have started with a prediction of a magnitude 8 earthquake to strike at 8pm last Wednesday - has morphed into a potent rumour that has the whole city talking. [...]

The Gisborne Herald [New Zealand]
17 January 2008

Fake quake causes some to leave town

By John Jones

Family Finishes RV Trip with Grandmother's Body

The Oregonian [Portland, OR]
15 January 2008

Family finishes RV trip with grandmother's body

The Oregonian Staff

HILLSBORO -- An Arkansas family trying to fulfill an ailing grandmother's last request arrived in Hillsboro early Sunday with the grandmother's body in the back of their recreational vehicle, police said. The woman apparently died in Wyoming, and her family completed the trip. [...]

[Disappointingly, the RV-- with dead granny -- wasn't stolen when the family stopped to eat along the way. -- bc]

Monday, January 14, 2008

Robberies at Stop Signs

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
14 January 2008

Police: Stop sign robbery e-mail just a rumor

By Danza Johnson
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Over the past two weeks, an e-mail about some peculiar robberies has had some residents spooked, but police say there’s no reason for alarm because it isn’t true.

Tupelo Police Capt. Bart Aguirre said his phone has been ringing off the hook from people who’ve received or heard about an e-mail about robberies at stop signs. [...]

Friday, January 11, 2008

Through a Hole in the Sheet

Jerusalem Post
10 January 2008

Nothing but dirty laundry? [Book review]


The Rabbi's Daughter
By Reva Mann
The Dial Press
368 pages; $24

Do religious Jews make love through a hole in a sheet? It's hard to know what to make of Reva Mann's inclusion of this hoary urban legend in her sensationalist memoir The Rabbi's Daughter. [...]

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Party of Dwarfs [India]
11 January 2008

Vir Sanghvi

Pursuits [column]

The sex thimbles

[An Indian tycoon, a short man whose greatest desire is to feel six feet tall, goes to a party where he is delighted to find that all the other guests are dwarfs. "When the story appeared in my column in Brunch a couple of years ago, I prefaced it with the tycoon’s denials. But the funny thing was this: nobody wanted to believe that it was made up. It had, they said, the ring of truth about it."]

Pranksters Cause Brawl Between Workmen & Police

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
11 January 2008

Bridge over Parramatta Road

[Pranksters at Sydney University phoned the police to inform them that "a group of students had dressed up as workmen and were digging up Parramatta Road." They then told the workmen who were in fact doing that very thing that students dressed up as policemen were coming to harass them. A brawl broke out between the workers and police, each group thinking the other was students. A version of an international legend.]

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Man Spots Wife at Brothel

9 January 2008

What are you doing here? - man asks wife at brothel

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees. Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town. [...]

"Pass the salt, Gunga Din!"

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]
10 January 2008

Column 8

When it comes to cricket controversies involving the Indian team and poorly chosen words, Joan Paddon-Row, 91, of Davistown, has seen it all before. "In 1952 there was a terrible furore," she told us, "when Freddie Trueman turned to the Indian high commissioner at dinner and said 'Pass the salt, Gunga Din!"' For the record, Trueman always denied having said this, but the story stuck. [...]

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dead Mouse in Bottle of Beer

Ananova [UK]
8 January 2008

Man found dead mouse in beer

A Romanian man was rushed to hospital after finding a dead mouse in his bottle of beer. Mihai Stanescu, 32, from the town of Bacau, ended up in an emergency hospital with food poisoning. [...]

Kenyan Looters Return Cursed Goods

7 January 2008

Police cheer as Kenya's witch-wary looters return war spoils

NAIROBI (AFP) - Dozens of looters who profited from Kenya's post-election unrest began returning or dumping their ill-gotten gains around the port city of Mombasa Monday, frightened of cursed goods, police said.

Television footage showed fearful, if not shameful, looters and their accomplices returning beds, sofa sets and other items after rumours that victims had deployed witch doctors to punish the thieves. [...]

[It is rumored that some looters "cannot urinate or pass stool. And another one is rotting in one eye."]

Daily Nation [Kenya]
9 January 2008

Mombasa looters return stolen property


[A thief returning stolen goods admits, "What drove us to this point is a rumour doing rounds that one man dropped dead as he carried away a stolen TV set from an electronic shop in Magongo.” According to one woman, “I have seen with my own eyes several people who are now complaining that they cannot go the toilet anymore, just a few days after looting.” Some other looters see ghosts.]

Reuters Africa
9 January 2008

Kenya looters fear black magic, return goods

By Celestine Achieng

The Standard [Kenya]
8 January 2008

Stolen goods returned to owners

By Khadija Yusuf

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Eagles Try to Snatch Children

The State Journal-Register [Springfield, IL]
23 December 2007

Question assertions bird whisperer made to city council


Given Harper laughs when told the tale of James Soules, the so-called bird whisperer who says that an eagle swooped down near Decatur and tried to carry him off when he was 2 years old. [...]


Biofort [Blog]
24 November 2007

Scott Maruna

Avian Abductions: Lawndale was Last

[Maruna presents his "top 30 Avian Abductions from the past 100 years," with excerpts of reports from various North American newspapers.]