Monday, April 5, 2010

Beware of Charity Scams - - Orkut Donating Money for Each Forwarded Mail to the Medical Bills of Anupam Biswas

Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Summary:

Message claims that, every time an email is forwarded, social networking site Orkut will donate money to cover the medical bills of a seriously ill mechanical engineering student named Anupam Biswas.

Actually, the email is a hoax that has been circulating for several years. Forwarding the email will not help Anupam Biswas or anybody else. Any message that claims that an organization will donate money in exchange for forwarding an email is virtually certain to be a hoax. This message is just one more in a long line of very similar hoaxes.

Before heading towards a detailed analysis; let's have a look at the mail content:


Subject : Fwd: Important Anupam Biswas

IIT Bombay student Anupam Biswas 5th sem. Mechanical Engg is suffering from Colukabki (caused due to excessive nabad and depression) a disease very rarely found (3 in a billion). His condition is very pathetic and the treatment is very expensive, obviously his parents are not able to afford his treatment. Orkut has agreed to pay 1 paisa after each time this message is forward. So please pass to all ur friends. please i request you to pass it to as many people as u can and lets try to save someone's life.

I request please do not ignore this. It will take < 1 min from ur life to help saving someone's life . ==========================================

Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

According to this message, popular social networking website Orkut has agreed to help pay medical bills for a seriously ill mechanical engineering student named Anupam Biswas who is studying at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. According to the message, Anupam Biswas is suffering from an extremely rare disease known as "Colukabki". Supposedly, Orkut will donate the sum of 1 paisa each and every time the email is forwarded.

However, the claims in the email are utter nonsense. Neither Orkut nor any other legitimate organization would ever agree to participate in such an absurd fund-raising scheme. In fact, any message that claims that an organization will donate money for any purpose based on how many times a particular email is forwarded is virtually certain to be a hoax. This message is just one among many very similar hoaxes. Some, such as the long running Amy Bruce Charity Hoax have been circulating continually for well over a decade. The "Anupam Biswas" version of the hoax discussed here has been circulating since at least 2006.

It is unclear if the "Anupam Biswas" is a real person who is or was seriously ill. Tellingly, there does not seem to be any credible information about a disease known as "Colukabki". One would think that such a rare and interesting illness - the figures quoted in the message suggest that, on average, only 19 or 20 people in the entire world would suffer from the illness at any one time - would be very documented by the medical profession. It seems probable that the supposed illness was simply made up in a rather lame attempt to add credence to the absurd claims in the message. It it is possible, if he exists at all, that the person named in the email was the target of misguided pranksters intent on playing a practical joke on him. However, even in the unlikely event that this person is really in need of financial help to cover medical expenses, recipients can rest assured that forwarding this ridiculous email will not help him in any way whatsoever.

Again, any message that claims that money will be donated just for forwarding an email is sure to be a hoax and should not be sent to others. Moreover, even in the hugely improbable event that an entity such as Orkut did decide to participate in such a scheme, there would simply be no reliable or ethical way of tracking a particular email that might ultimately be forwarded thousands or even millions of times. And, given that such messages do not include any sort of limiting terms and conditions, the organization supposedly doing the donating might ultimately find itself obligated to part with very large amounts of money. No organization is ever likely to place itself in such a precarious position.

If you receive this or a similar "money for forwarding" message, please do not send it to others. And please take a moment to inform the sender that the message is a hoax.

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