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Return of the 'Deadly Blue Package'
'Viral' rumor makes an infectious comeback
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• Officials: Klingerman Virus a Hoax
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Dateline: 10/01/01
Updated: 10/13/01

By David Emery

Urgent email warnings about a deadly virus, poison or other "lethal substance" being mailed out randomly in blue packages marked "Just for You" are new variants of a year-old Internet hoax.

Originally known as the "Klingerman Virus," the hoax itself has exhibited virus-like characteristics of late, mutating to adapt to a changing environment and ensure its own propagation and survival.

In the weeks since the September 11 terrorist attacks, amid lingering fears of further assaults and warnings of biological warfare, the original text has found its way back into circulation alongside virtually identical alerts describing a so-called "Kinderman Virus" and variations ranging from envelopes allegedly containing a chemical that kills instantly when sniffed to blank sheets of paper that supposedly cause a rash followed by a coma to mailings decorated with American flags that contain a "powdery substance" contaminated with anthrax.

After a rash of similar-sounding real-life incidents reported around the U.S. during the second week of October and the simultaneous discovery of anthrax contamination in media and government office buildings, these once-laughable rumors have now taken on an air of credibility. It's important to note, however, that as of this writing no evidence of biohazardous materials has been found in any of the cases where "suspicious" envelopes or packages have been delivered to people's homes. Every investigated incident has turned out to be a hoax or a false alarm.

As a precaution, the FBI and U.S. Postal Service urge Americans to contact authorities immediately if any unusual or suspicious packages or materials are delivered. Obviously we concur with that official advice, but we also recommend taking forwarded email warnings like the following with a grain of salt until confirmed by authorities:

Collected September 21, 2001:

Subject: FW: Warning from HFD

I always check this stuff out when I get it. I called HFD just now, and they confirmed that this is in fact true.

The Houston Fire Department has received info over their wires from the federal government warning about some mailings that have been received by others.

Do not open a LARGE BLUE ENVELOPE with black lettering on the front saying "A GIFT FOR YOU FROM THE KINDERMAN FOUNDATION". They say 28 people have already died from some type of chemical or something on a sponge inside.

They are taking this seriously at this point. I would hope that this would hit the news later, but they say there are so many things going on it's impossible to cover them all. If you do get an envelope like this call the police department or take it to your nearest fire station or back to the post office. Just do not open it.

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