Ever get the e-mail about that lost relative that's died and left you a fortune, only you have to share your banking number with someone in West Africa? What about the e-mail promising a cash payout from Bill Gates if you forward an e-mail to a bagillion of your friends? Online pranks and shams are all too familiar to those of us that live on the web, but that doesn't mean they aren't delightfully funny or painfully jarring. This month's PC World has put together a list of the The Top 25 Web Hoaxes and Pranks and I for one, took a little trip down memory lane. Highlights include:
- The Accidental Tourist (2001) - Quite possibly the most famous hoax picture ever, this gruesome idea of a joke traveled around the Web and made a grand tour of e-mail inboxes everywhere soon after the tragedy of September 11. It depicts a tourist standing on the observation deck of one of the World Trade Center towers, unknowingly posing for a picture as an American Airlines plane approaches in the background.
- Sick Kid Needs Your Help (1989) - This gem had its roots in reality. It all began in 1989, when nine-year-old cancer patient Craig Shergold thought of a way to achieve his dream of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records. Craig asked people to send greeting cards, and boy, did they. By 1991, 33 million greeting cards had been sent, far surpassing the prior record.
- Bill Gates Money Giveaway (1997) - "Dear Internet Subscriber," the e-mail starts. "The Government of the United States is quietly pushing through legislation that will affect your use of the Internet." It goes on to reveal that "Bill 602P" will authorize the U.S. Postal Service to assess a charge of five cents for every e-mail sent.
For the complete list of web Tom Foolery, check out PC World.