Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A billionaire has promised 5¢
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1998]
Origins: This plea to help a family in crisis began popping up in inboxes in May 1999. In common with similar entreaties, this message claims an unnamed wealthy benefactor is said to be poised to help a sick or injured child to the tune of so many cents per
Before you give in to the temptation to ask all of your friends to help, think about this: why would a billionaire committed to aiding the family of an injured child make the degree of his participation contingent upon the number of
The idea that an anonymous benefactor would be kind enough to want to underwrite the cost of a child's care yet heartless enough to insist upon making the amount of such help dependent on something as frivolous as Internet participation seems absurd. If there really were such a person, why wouldn't he just write a check for whatever amount the family needed?
Another question to ask yourself: how would the billionaire know how many
It is perhaps telling that the text of the Beerman plea is suspiciously similar to one circulated by "Anna Cohen" about a premature baby named
Last but most telling are the denials by Curt Beerman himself. Because of the flood of
Thank you for your inquiry, but the email about my son is a total hoax. Emails such as this one are intended to flood someone's account, and I can assure you that it did just that. I ask you NOT to forward the message on to anyone else.It all adds up to hoax. Beerman himself may well have put his finger on it: such nonsense is a great way to flood someone's inbox and get his account cancelled.
Thank you — Curt Beerman
The altruistic desire to help an injured child and his family may well be fueling not just someone's idea of a joke, but a deliberate scheme to do something nasty to another. Something more to think about before giving in to that urge to help: you never know whom you're really helping.
Barbara "prose and cons" Mikkelson
Last updated: 27 March 2005
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