Email rumors warn of mail deliveries consisting of large blue envelopes from the 'Klingerman Foundation' which supposedly contain small sponges contaminated with a fatal virus.
Description: Forwarded emails / Hoax
Circulating since: April 2000
Email text contributed by a reader, April 2000:
I feel it is vital to inform all of my friends about this.
This is an alert about a virus in the original sense of the word...one that affects your body, not your hard drive.
There have been 23 confirmed cases of people attacked by the Klingerman Virus, a virus that arrives in your real mail box, not your e-mail in box.
Someone has been mailing large blue envelopes, seemingly at random, to people inside the US. On the front of the envelope in bold black letters is printed, "A gift for you from the Klingerman Foundation." When the envelopes are opened, there is a small sponge sealed in plastic. This sponge carries what has come to be known as the Klingerman Virus, as public health officials state this is a strain of virus they have not previously encountered.
When asked for comment, Florida police Sergeant Stetson said, "We are working with the CDC and the USPS, but have so far been unable to track down the origins of these letters. The return addresses have all been different, and we are certain a remailing service is being used, making our jobs that much more difficult."
Those who have come in contact with the Klingerman Virus have been hospitalized with severe dysentery. So far seven of the twentythree victims have died. There is no legitimate Klingerman Foundation mailing unsolicited gifts.
If you receive an oversized blue envelope in the mail marked,"A gift from the Klingerman foundation", DO NOT open it. Place the envelope in a strong plastic bag or container, and call the police immediately. The "gift" inside is one you definitely do not want.
PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU CARE ABOUT.
Analysis: This is flat-out false. The question recipients of this message should be asking themselves is why, with seven victims dead (supposedly) and the Centers for Disease Control and Florida police investigating, we haven't heard a word about this deadly scourge in the press. After all, the "Love Letter" computer virus which circulated around the same time, killing no one, made international headlines within 24 hours of being identified.
When I called the CDC in Atlanta for its reaction to this forwarded alert, the representative I spoke with was terse.
"Is this the one about the virus in the envelope?" she said.
"It's not true. There's no such thing."
For that matter, there's no such thing as a "Klingerman Foundation" (aka "Kinderman Foundation" in later variants), nor is there a "Florida police sergeant" named Stetson working with the CDC and U.S. Postal Service to trace the origins of the supposed "blue envelopes." Nothing in the email is true.
In point of fact, the message was most likely composed as a prank parodying all the phony computer virus alerts that have circulated in recent years, nearly all of which are worded similarly to the Klingerman warning, including sentences like, "If you receive a message entitled such-and-such, DO NOT open it! It will DESTROY YOUR COMPUTER!!!"
An official CDC statement debunking the Klingerman Virus hoax is now online.
Update 01/18/01: New variant of the hoax doesn't reference the name "Klingerman" but claims 11 people in New Jersey died after opening blue packages labeled "Just for you!" See Beware the Lethal Blue Package
Update 10/08/01: The year-old "Klingerman Virus" hoax has been resurrected (yet again) in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, evidently because the specifics of the story resemble a germ warfare scenario. See Return of the 'Lethal Blue Package'.
Sources and further reading:
False Email Report About 'Klingerman Virus'
Centers for Disease Control, 23 May 2001
Florida: Hoax Causes Neighborhood Evacuation
Associated Press, 23 May 2000
Auburn Resident Victim of Hoax
Lewiston Sun Journal, 22 June 2000
False 'Klingerman Virus' Email Rumor
U.S. Postal Service press release, 25 May 2000
The Snail Mail That'll Kill You
Wired News takes note of the hoax's resurgence, 16 January 2001
Last updated 09/06/11