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Hoaxes & Myths

Urban Legends

A story, which may have started with a grain of truth, has been embellished and retold until it has passed into the realm of myth.

Can't find what you're looking for below? Check these hoax debunking sources... Urban Legends & Folklore | |

Click on the title to see the complete hoax text, a description, brief history, reporting date in a new browser window. In many cases, the hoax description site may also include reactions from hoax subjects, an extensive history, and provide links to additional analysis and interviews.

Legends | Legend Spoofs


Internet Cleanup Day - This hoax has all servers on the Internet shuting down for 24 hours once each year so they can be "cleaned" of dead email and inactive ftp, www, and gopher sites. This is a hoax. The U.S. governement asks that you do NOT circulate this hoax email, and delete it from your mailbox.

Internet Access Charge - This hoax claims that the U.S. Government will impose a charge for using the Internet. This is a hoax. CIAC provides a very detailed discussion of this hoax, and it's many variants.

eMail Tax (602P) Hoax - This long-running hoax has been re-born several times. The latest version continues the false claim that the U.S. Postal Service has proposed legislation (Bill 602P) that would charge ISP's for each email sent... the ISP's would then pass that charge on to email users. This is a hoax. There is no such legislation pending in Congress, and there never will be. The CIAC site provides several links that will lead you to hundreds of responses to this hoax.

Klingerman Virus - This hoax describes a supposed threat that arrives in your home's mail box. The letter suggests that large blue envelopes containing virus soaked sponges are being mailed to unsuspecting people. This is a hoax. The CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases division has commented on this chain letter.

Kidney Harvest - This is perhaps the most famous urban legend. CIAC provides the text to the original hoax and two testimonials. In this story, a business man wakes up in a bathtub of ice water to find that his kidneys have been removed. This is a hoax.

Needles on Theatre Seats - This hoax claims that someone in Dallas was pierced by an HIV-infected needle stuck in a theater seat. This is a hoax. The CDC provides a general discussion regarding needle sticks.

Needles on Gas Pump Handles - This hoax promotes AIDS hysteria by claiming that someone is affixing HIV-infected hypodermic needles to gas pump handles. This is a hoax. This "dangerous prank" didn't happen in Florida or anywhere else. The CDC provides a general discussion regarding needle sticks.

LSD on the Phone Hoax - This hoax warns that LSD and the poison strychnine are being spread on the keys and coin slots of pay phones by gang members as part of their initiation. This is a hoax.

Poisoned ATM Deposit Envelopes - In this hoax, the glue strip on ATM deposit envelopes are supposedly laced with the poison cyanide. This is a hoax. Note that the author of this hoax spells words using non-American English.

Baby's Body Stuffed with Cocaine - In this disturbing hoax, on a supposed shopping trip to Mexico a two year old boy runs off from his parents, is killed, then gutted and stuffed with Cocaine in an effort to smuggle the drugs across the U.S. border in a "sleeping baby". This is a hoax. Let's hope the real drug runners don't decide that this sounds like a good idea.

Spider in the Toilet Hoax - This hoax has a deadly little South American spider living under toilet seats at a restaurant. This is a hoax. There isn't one thing that is true about this chain letter except for the fact that there are spiders, toilet seats are attached to toilets, and people do use public restrooms.The CIAC site has several links to other debunk sources. One of the links takes you to UC Riverside's Entomology Department's in-deapth discussion.

Roaches in the Stamp Glue Hoax - This is a re-write of the roaches in the tacos chain letter. This hoax claims that after licking a stamp a woman's tongue became severely swollen. When the doctors cut it open, out popped a live roach. Rediculous. This is a hoax.

Spunkball Warning - This is a scary hoax that claims that teens have invented a new game where they throw flaming "Spunkballs" into cars stopped at red lights. This is a hoax. Allstate Insurance told CIAC that contrary to the text of the chain letter, it did not issue this warning. Note that in the subject line, the company name incorrectly has a space between the words "All" and "state"... not something a real employee would be expected mess up on.

Man High On PCP Cuts Off Face - With all their research, has been unable to verify whether this story, or it's variant, is true or false. Supposedly this fellow, high on PCP, dug out an eye, removed all the skin from his face, cut off his nose, ears, and lips, and fed them to his dogs. provides a link to a gruesome photo of the supposedly PCP-brain dead man preceeded by a warning. While the story is disgusting enough, the horrific photo should be left unseen.

TV Broadcast Signal Seen 3 Years Later - One of the greatest mysteries of early '50's television, now an urban legend, was the claim that a TV test pattern had been viewed on television sets in Great Britain 3 years after the signals had last been broadcast by their defunct Houston TX station. This is a hoax. has a very insightful report on this hoax which includes the revelation that U.S. TV signals aren't compatible with British TV's.

Life Cereal's Mikey Dies Eating "Pop Rocks" - Hey Mikey!... this rumor now an urban legend, started around 1979, claims that little Mikey from the '60's and '70's Life Cereal TV commercials died from the explosive effects of eating Pop Rocks candy and drinking soda pop. This is a hoax. Some people believed that the disappearance of General Foods' Pop Rocks (invented in 1956) from TV advertising around 1983 was "proof" that the food combination was the cause. What is less known is that Kraft Foods bought the rights to the product in 1985 and marketed it as "Action Candy" through a company named "Carbonated Candy". Pop Rocks are back out in the open again, now owned by Chupa Chups. The actor who portrayed Mikey has appeared on TV in recent years to reprise his famous role as "adult Mikey". Other variants of this legend are just as false.

Radio Host Calls Kids "Little Bastards" On-Air - This rumor turned legend claims that the radio show host "Uncle Don" - thinking the mic was off - wrapped up his broadcast one evening by blurting out over the airwaves, "There, that oughta hold the little bastards!". This is a hoax. This rumor was circulating as far back as the 1920's, and has been attributed to many of the early children's radio show hosts, and even a few television hosts through the 1960's. A series of "Bloopers" books and records compiled by Kermit Schafer continued the rumor...with an "actual recording" of the incident being fabricated. has an great discussion of this legend, of course, and provides a link to an even more in-depth look at this topic.

A 1993 episode of the animated show "The Simpsons" repeated the non-event.

Flashing Your Headlights Can Kill You - Although not legal in all states, a fairly common practice used to signal the other driver that his headlights aren't on, is to flash yours. This hoax claims that new members are initiated into gangs by killing drivers who flash their headlights at them. This is a hoax. has traced this hoax back to the early 1980's when it was said, but apparently not proven, that the Hell's Angels bike gang was initiating new members in this fashion. In 1984 the rumor had changed to black and hispanic street gangs. In August of '93 there was a major outbreak of the rumor, possibly fueled by the memory of the real death of a Stockton CA school secretary in 1992, when the driver of the car she was riding in made a hand gesture to the driver of a car with no headlights. Only one other incident, an October 1993 attack in Toledo OH, could fit the rumor.

Grandmother is Luggage - In this legend, depending on the variant, a grandmother or step mother dies while on a family trip and her body is rolled up in something and placed on top of the car with the luggage. Before authorities can be contacted, the car and granny, go missing. This is a hoax. has a great report on this and disects the U.S. and European variations.

Scuba Diver in the Tree - This story from the '80's has become an urban legend and an episode of a hit TV show (CSI, Crime Scene Investigations on CBS). It's the tale of a wet suit-wearing scuba diver's body found high in a tree in the midst of a fire-ravaged forest. You probably already know how this one turns out... yes, while diving in a near-by lake he was scooped up in a water bucket dipped in the lake by a fire-fighting helicopter. This is a hoax. has links to other variants collected by the AFU & Urban Legends Archive, and a newsgroup posting that debunks this hoax.

Legend Spoofs

Disaster Hoax Spoof - This isn't a hoax... it's a spoof of a hoax, and it's so absurd that there can't be anyone alive that could believe it. Oh yes there is, and that's why we (and CIAC) includes it. It's very funny, and a nice break from the rest of the crap that people are trying to pass off as fact. This item is included in this category on this site because it is included in this category on the CIAC site.

Universal Legend Spoof - This isn't a hoax... it's a spoof of all hoaxes. Very funny and VERY long - perhaps the longest sentence ever written. There is no way someone would believe this is true, CIAC includes this second spoof to give us a break... a little something to laugh at. This item is included in this category on this site because it is included in this category on the CIAC site.


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