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Crime

Urban legends and Netlore about crime and criminals: ATM Envelope Poisonings; The 'Blue Star' LSD Tattoo; The Body in the Bed; The Nigerian Scam; Double Whammy; Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn on the Light?

#77 on Cell Phone (Rapist Impersonates Police Officer)
A female student driving home from college foils a phony cop's attempt to pull her over by dialing #77 on her cell phone to contact the real police officer ahead of her.

Dial *112 in Police Emergency?
Female college student pulled over by a rapist impersonating a cop is rescued by a real officer after dialing *112 (or #112) emergency number on her cell phone.

*677 on Cell Phone (Rapist Impersonates Police Officer - Ontario)
Female college student pulled over in her car by a cop-impersonating would-be rapist is rescued by a real officer after dialing *677 on her cell phone.

809 Area Code Phone Scam
More or less true! This email alert originated in a reputable newsletter and warns of a known telephone scam.

90# Phone Scam
A half dozen or so variations of this alert have been in wide circulation since 1998. The scam is real, but it does not affect typical residential phone customers.

93-Year-Old Grandma Kills 'Knockout Game' Thug
Viral article claims a 93-year-old grandmother in St. Louis named Gladis Bennett shot and killed a thug who attacked her while playing the "knockout game."

1994's Most Bizarre Suicide
How one man's attempt to commit suicide turned into a brain-teaser for crime scene investigators. Was 1994's "most bizarre suicide" actually a case of murder? (See also: Deconstructing Ronald Opus)

Another Close Call at the Mall
The case of the murderous good samaritan with a knife, rope, and duct tape in the trunk of his car - a new variant of a classic shopping mall urban legend.

Antonio Santiago Murder
Viral text compares the cold-blooded murder of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago (misnamed "Antonio West") of Brunswick, Georgia to the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida one year earlier.

Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn on the Light?
Those murdering madmen can certainly put a crimp in your college career.

ATM Envelope Poisonings
False rumor declares that a bank customer died after licking a cyanide-coated deposit envelope.

ATM Scam Warning
True! Various warnings describe how thieves rig ATM machines to withhold bank cards which are later retrieved and used to empty victims' bank accounts.

ATM Skimmer Warning
Email flier describes how criminals install special equipment on ATMs to steal unsuspecting bank customers' card numbers and PINs.

Attack of the Penis Shrinkers!
Rumors of penis-shrinking sorcerers roaming the streets cause outbreak of pubic panic in West Africa.

Attempted Child Abduction at Sam's Club
Three email versions are now circulating of this decades-old (and false) urban legend.

The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs
A teenage babysitter frantically calls the police after receiving prank calls from a stranger who repeatedly inquires after the welfare of the children she's supposed to be taking care of.

Backseat Killers & Ankle-Slashing Gangs
Two more well-known urban legends show up in an email warning.

'Binary Explosives' Video
Online video purports to show the manufacture of a binary explosive small enough to be hidden in a pen and powerful enough to 'vaporize' a watermelon.

'Blue Star' LSD Tattoo
Old urban legend of the 'Blue Star LSD tattoo' - a transferable decal for children allegedly spiked with LSD - makes yet another strong comeback.

The Body in the Bed
A classic urban legend. Honeymooners notice a strange odor in their hotel room and decide to peek under the mattress, only to find...

Bottle Bombs
Forwarded email warns recipients to beware of "bottle bombs," homemade explosive devices consisting of water, Drano, and aluminum foil in a plastic bottle.

The Boyfriend's Death
They picked the worst possible night to go necking on Lovers' Lane...

Burundanga Drug Warning
Forwarded emails warn that criminals are using business cards impregnated with a potent street drug called burundanga (or scopolamine) to incapacitate victims before attacking them.

Car-Bumping Gang Initiation Rite
Forwarded email warns that MS-13 gang members are participating in a 'gang initiation rite' wherein they bump a car from behind and then shoot the driver when he or she exits the vehicle to check for damage

Car Magnets Aid Child Predators?
Email purportedly written by an abducted teen warns parents not to 'publicize' the whereabouts of their kids to child predators by attaching car magnets containing info about schools and activities to their vehicles.

Car Thieves Use VIN # to Obtain Duplicate Keys
Email flier warns automobile owners to cover the VIN # on their dashboard with tape to prevent car thieves from writing it down and using it to obtain duplicate keys from a dealership.

Cash Seized in Mexican Drug Raid (Photos)
Emailed photos show a huge cache of money totalling $207 million seized from Mexican drug dealers in 2007.

Cell Phone Cameras Used to Take Pictures of Credit Cards
Email warns that criminals have found a new means of committing identity theft: taking a picture of your credit card with a camera cell phone.

Cell Phone Guns
According to this email flier and attached video, law enforcement officials have discovered .22 caliber guns disguised as cell phones being smuggled into western Europe from Croatia.

Cheating at Gas Pumps
Email rumor claims a consumer was cheated by a rigged gas pump while refueling at a BP service station in Cartersville, Georgia

The Choking Doberman
A thief leaves "digital" evidence at the scene of the crime.

Citibank Email Scam
Fraudulent email designed to steal personal information sends recipients to a real Citibank Web page but launches a phony pop-up demanding "login" info. Beware!

The Clinton Body Count
Forwarded email dating from the mid-1990s contains a list of dozens of people connected with Bill and Hillary Clinton who -- we are to believe -- died under mysterious circumstances.

The Colander Lie Detector
Email tale echoes an urban legend dating back several decades about police interrogators wiring a metal colander to a Xerox machine and convincing a suspect it's a lie detector, thereby extracting a confession.

Confidential Business Proposal
Email examples of the infamous "Nigerian Scam" letters used by international con artists to bilk victims of millions of dollars every year.

Cook County Correctional Center (Photos)
Emailed photos purportedly show the stylish and comfortable new digs of prison inmates in Chicago's Cook County Correctional Center.

Corpses of Children Used to Traffic Drugs
An old urban legend (c. 1973) dressed up in new clothes for the Internet.

Credit Card Fraud Warning
Forwarded email warns of a credit scam in which con artists request the 3-digit code on the back of a credit card to "verify" it.

Criminals Use Key Rings to Track Victims
Email rumor warns that criminals are distributing free key rings with tracking devices embedded in them which enable said criminals to follow potential victims and rob them.

The Dillard's Thief (The Dead Cat in the Package)
After stealing someone's shopping bag in a department store parking lot, the thief gets the surprise of her life when she opens the bag and finds a dead cat inside.

Don't Flash Your Headlights
New email variant of a familiar urban legend claims that innocent people who flash their headlights at gang members' cars will be chased down and killed as part of a gang initiation game

Double Whammy!
The case of the benevolent car thief.

Doubletree Hotel Key Cards - Identity Theft
False email rumor claims hotel key cards are routinely encoded with customers' personal information, resulting in identity theft by employees.

Drug-Laced Suckers/Lollipops a Threat to Children
Email flier purporting to originate from the North Little Rock Police Department warns parents that drug-laced candy in the form of suckers and lollipops pose a hazard to children and teenagers.

Dumb Burglars Break Into Sperm Bank
Two robbers break into a bank expecting to steal diamonds and gold, but find what they believe to be a cache of freshly made vanilla pudding instead.

Dumb Burglars Snort Stolen Cremains
As allegedly reported in a Florida newspaper, stupid burglars confuse woman's cremated remains for crack cocaine.

Dumb Criminal Attempts to Rob Crowded Gun Shop
In this email tale circulated during the 1990s and subsequently revived as a "2005 Darwin Award contender," a less-than-clever criminal gets his just desserts when he attempts to rob a crowded gun shop full of well-armed patrons.

Ed Mezvinsky, Father of the Groom
Forwarded email attributed to a news reporter claims Chelsea Clinton's new husband is the son of Ed Mezvinsky, a former Iowa Congressman who went to prison for fraud.

Eggs on Windshield / Baby Car Seat Crime Warning
Emailed crime alert warns that criminals are using two new techniques to trick drivers into stopping their vehicles: throwing raw eggs at windshields and placing car seats with fake babies in them on roadsides.

FBI Alert: Gypsy Testicle-Snatching Ring
Funded by the Chinese Communist Party, these dastardly criminals threaten American manhood!

Flash Your Headlights and Die!
Resurgence of a terrifying urban legend about aspiring gang members who fire weapons at oncoming drivers who innocently flash their headlights

Gift Card Scam
Email rumor describes a new scam in which crooks copy down the numbers of gift cards sold on store display racks and use them to make purchases online.

'Good Samaritan' Killer at the Mall
A murderous, well-dressed "good samaritan" supposedly lurks in the parking lots of shopping malls just about everywhere.

'Good Samaritan' May Have Been Serial Killer
Email rumor claims a man posing as a good samaritan attempted to gain entry to a woman's vehicle by 'returning' a $5 bill she supposedly dropped. Was he the Baton Rouge serial killer?

Grand(ma) Larceny
Variants of the classic urban legend, 'The Stolen Granny'

The Grateful Terrorist
A person identified only as an 'Arab' or 'Muslim' repays a stranger's act of kindness with a cryptic warning not to go to a specific place at a specific time, supposedly saving them from a planned terrorist attack.

The Grocery Scam
Beware of lonely old ladies who pretend to be your mother at the checkout stand.

The 'Rambo Granny' of Melbourne
Tabloid tale of 81-year-old "gun-toting granny" Ava Estelle of Melbourne, Australia, who took revenge on two men who raped her granddaughter by shooting their testicles off.

The Hairy-Armed Hitchhiker
Watch out – granny's got a hatchet!

Halloween Warning - Candy-Flavored Meth
Circulating via email, a 'Halloween Warning' urging parents to instruct their children to beware of a new form of crystal meth that looks and smells like strawberry Pop Rocks candy and comes in other flavors such as chocolate, peanut butter, and cola.

'Hit Man' Scam Email
Spam message purportedly sent by a hit man hired to 'terminate' the recipient demands a large sum of money in return for not carrying out the mission.

HIV Needles on Gas Pump Handles
This email warning from a 'Captain Abraham Sands' of the Jacksonville Police Department claims that evildoers are exposing unsuspecting victims to the AIDS virus by attaching HIV-contaminated needles to gas pump handles.

HIV Needles in Pay Phone Coin Slots
Are drug addicts everywhere trying to kill us all with their dirty syringes?

HIV Needle-Stick Rumors Still Thriving Online
'You have been infected with HIV' - Rumors of recent needle-stick incidents in Dallas and Denver, plus copycat pranks in Virginia

The Hook
A teen necking session on lovers' lane is interrupted by a radio announcement that a murderer with a hook for a hand has escaped from the local asylum.

Jury Duty Scam
Forwarded alert warns of a "new" identity theft scam wherein potential victims are falsely notified that they've failed to appear for jury duty and must supply personal info for verification.

How to Detect a Two-Way Mirror
Forwarded email gives practical advice on how to tell the difference between a two-way mirror and an ordinary mirror.

IRS Tax Refund Phishing Scam
Fraudulent emails purporting to originate from the IRS aim to trick users into revealing personal information.

The Kidney Thieves
Rumors can spread like viruses, and are sometimes just as lethal. Case in point, "The Kidney Thieves."

The Killer in the Backseat
What if that scary guy following you was actually trying to save your life?

The Klingerman Virus
Not your ordinary bogus virus alert. This one's about a (supposedly) real, live bug that is fatal to human beings!

The Knife in the Briefcase
More murdering madmen in disguise in this variant of "The Hatchet in the Handbag."

The Knockout Perfume
Perfume hoax email: parking lot thieves allegedly knock out their victims by convincing them to sniff ether-laced perfume or cologne. The evolution of an Internet urban legend...

'Lock Bumping' Video
Forwarded emails link to videos demonstrating a breaking-and-entering technique used by criminals known as lock bumping or key bumping.

LSD & Strychnine on Pay Phone Buttons
More pay phone hysteria, courtesy of the Internet.

Mall Abduction Scams on 'Inside Edition'
This "warning to women" claims that elaborate scams are being used by abductors to lure female shoppers out of malls and into waiting vans.

'National Gang Week' Alert
Forwarded email purportedly issued by the Tennessee Department of Correction warns of "National Gang Week" activities including the use of a baby car seat with to trick women into stopping their vehicles and setting themselves up for attack.

'New' Car Break-in Method: Hole Under Door Lock
Viral alert warns of a "new" vehicle break-in method in which thieves drill a hole under the handle of a car door to unlock it.

'A New Twist on Kidnapping' (Flat Tire at the Mall)
A female shopper's gratefulness turns to horror when she discovers that the "good samaritan" who offered to fix her flat tire in the mall parking lot has a briefcase full of knives, rope and duct tape.

Oh, Susannah...
Creepy variant of a college tale known as "The Roommate's Death."

Operation Yellow Jacket
Email hoax claims Michigan State Police are conducting a 31-day "speeding ticket frenzy" during which troopers will pose as DOT workers to enable them to catch traffic violators unawares. The scheme is called "Operation Yellow Jacket."

The Package of Cookies
A traveler is aghast when an indigent sits down next to him in an airport waiting area and (apparently) begins filching cookies from the package he has just bought.

'Progesterex' - New Date Rape Drug
According to this false email alert, there's a new date rape drug that permanently sterilizes female victims.

Propane Tank Warning
Email alert warns purchasers of propane tanks to avoid buying tanks with blue or green residue around the valve, an indication they may be contaminated with anhydrous ammonia.

Email: Rapists Lure Victims with Crying Child
Forwarded emails claim gang members are using crying children who pretend to be lost to lure female victims to secluded places to be raped.

Red Cross Debit Card Photo Results in Fraud
According to this email tale, an AFP news photo containing a close-up of a Red Cross Debit Card issued to Hurricane Katrina victim Latesha Vinette instantly resulted in fraudulent charges on a massive scale.

Reverse PIN # to Contact Police in ATM Emergency
Email rumor claims ATM users can contact police in the event of an attempted robbery by entering their PIN in reverse.

'Rockhard Abs' / 'Jason Stallings' State Police Warning
Latest version of an old email hoax warns people not to reply to messages from a person using the screen name 'Rockhard abs' or 'Jason Stallings,' supposedly a suspect in the murders of several women he met online

Serial Killer Uses Recording of Crying Baby to Lure Victims
According to this forwarded email, Baton Rouge police suspect a local serial killer is gaining entry to female victims' homes by playing a recording of a baby crying outside their doors.

A Rapist's New Trick
Email rumor claims a man posing as a good samaritan attempted to gain entry to a woman's vehicle by 'returning' a $5 bill she supposedly dropped. Is this a new trick used by rapists to dupe unsuspecting women?

Razor Blades Found on Playground Equipment
TRUE: Viral images show razor blades found glued to playground equipment in Millennium Park in East Moline, Illinois on March 24, 2014.

Russian Booksellers Abducting Kids in the U.S.?
Rumors circulating in various U.S. cities claim door-to-door booksellers with Slavic accents are actually out to abduct children.

'Slavemaster' Warning
An outdated and partly false email warning about an actual Internet stalker who used the screen name "Slavemaster."  A suspect has been behind bars since June 2000.

Snuff Films
Real-life murders captured on film and video?  The Skeptical Inquirer's Scott Aaron Stine stalks the truth.

Spunkball
Teenagers across America, we're told, are tossing firebombs into randomly selected vehicles.

Sticker-on-Rear-Window Carjacking Scheme
Email rumor warns of a new carjacking scheme involving the placement of a sticker or flyer on the victim's rear window to fool them into exiting the vehicle with the engine running.

Stolen License Plates Used in Gasoline Thefts
Forwarded email warns that criminals are stealing license plates and mounting them on their own vehicles to avoid being caught while perpetrating 'pump and run' gasoline thefts

Strawberry Meth Drug Warning
Email fliers warn of a new, candy-flavored form of methamphetamine targeted at young people called "strawberry meth" or "Strawberry Quick."

The Stuffed Baby
Proof that drug smugglers will stop at nothing to ply their evil trade.

Thieves Clone Remote Key Codes to Unlock Cars
Forwarded email urges vehicle owners to lock their doors manually instead of using a remote key, otherwise thieves might be able to clone the security code and gain entry to the vehicle.

Sugar Water in the Gas Tank
Internet urban legend warns of a criminal ploy to disable women's vehicles in Target Store parking lots by pouring sugar water in their gas tanks

A Tail of Two Toothbrushes
A couple from suburban California were vacationing in Jamaica when their room was broken into and everything stolen, with the exception of their camera and their toothbrushes. Considering themselves fortunate to have retained the camera with their vacation photos, they returned home where they had the film developed...

Two Sniffs and You're Out!
This week's hot email rumor, a warning to women about a robbery scam involving a remarkably potent 'knock-out' cologne, arrives just in time to strike fear into the hearts of holiday shoppers...

Up in Smoke!
The man who took out fire insurance on his rare cigars... then smoked them.

An Urban Legend Come to Life?
July 1999: Police in Bangkok are hunting for a man accused of stabbing several women in the back with a needle and shouting 'You've got AIDS now!' in separate incidents over the past few days.

U.S. Bank Email Scam
Spam email masquerades as a message from U.S. Bank requesting personal information from its customers. Don't bite!

Wal-Mart Cash Back Scam
Email rumors claim cashiers at Wal-Mart and other retail stores routinely steal money from customers by surreptitiously triggering the "cash back" option during credit or debit card transactions.

Wal-Mart Check Copying Scam
Emailed alert written on Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety stationary warns of a 'multi-city' check copying scam run by a ring of Wal-Mart employees

Wasp Spray for Self-Defense
Forwarded email recommends using wasp spray instead of pepper spray for self defense because, allegedly, it's more effective and works at a greater distance.

Welcome to the World of AIDS
Latest email scare story making the rounds tells of random victims unknowingly injected with the AIDS virus in crowded theaters and night clubs in two different countries

NY State Uniform Traffic Ticket Notice
Email spam purports to deliver a New York State Police speeding ticket to recipients, but in fact the attached zip file contains a virus.

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