Email rumor warns that criminals are distributing free key rings, key fobs, or key chains equipped with tracking chips which enable said criminals to follow potential victims and rob them.
Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: Aug. 2008
Status: False (see details below)
Email contributed by Dennis S., April 23, 2010:
Subject: CRIMINAL'S NEW STRATEGY: Handing out Key Rings as Tracking Device
WARN YOUR COLLEAGUES, FAMILY & FRIENDS TODAY!!!!
*Don't know if it's true, but best to be on the safe side.*
For your information please:
There is a syndicate of criminals presenting themselves as sales promoters who are giving free key-rings/holders at petrol stations or parking lots.
Those key ring/holders have a tracking device chip which allows them to follow you. Please don’t accept them.
They select their seemingly well-to-do potential victims and if you accept, then you will be in for their tricks. The key holders are very beautiful to resist accepting but remember you may end up paying more than the key holder including the risk to your life.
Please advise your family members as well.
Email contributed by Imtiaz V., Oct. 6, 2008:
SECURITY ALERT - Nigerians at Gas Station
Syndicates made up of Ghanaians and Nigerians are giving free key-rings at gas stations. Don't accept them, as the key rings have a tracking device which allows them to follow you.
Forward this alert to friends and family. A friend alerted me on the above and indicated that these guys just select their seemingly well-to-do potential victims and play the trick.
The key holders I am told are too beautiful to resist collecting but remember you may end up paying more including your life if you can't resist.
Caltex responded with a statement:
Analysis: This baseless rumor grew out of a 2008 promotional campaign in which Caltex South Africa, a subsidiary of Chevron, gave out solar-powered flashing key fobs to advertise its diesel fuel. Each fob contained an LED, a battery, and a computer chip. Apparently someone dismantled one of the devices, found the chip inside, and jumped to conclusion that it was some sort of RFID transmitter. The rumor that it was a "tracking device" used by criminals was promulgated on a radio talk show and quickly found its way onto the Internet.
These key rings serve no other purpose than that of creating brand (Caltex Power Diesel) awareness. They are not designed to serve as any form of tracking devices and should under no circumstances be confused as such.
Despite this, the rumor was still circulating via forwarded email and Facebook postings as recently as August 2012.
Sources and further reading:
Media Statement Regarding Caltex Power Diesel Key Rings
Chevron South Africa, 22 August 2008
The Great Keyring Paranoia Prank
Mail & Guardian, 28 August 2008
Caltex Hit by Urban Myth
The Independent, 30 August 2008
Last updated 08/06/12