There are many hoaxes sent as chain letters via email and social media, spreading because people are tricked into forwarding them, rather than through malicious code. The only way to defend from hoaxes is heightened caution. Hoaxes often claim to be quoting trustworthy companies (“Microsoft warns…”, “CNN announced…”, etc.) and often consist of warnings about catastrophic consequences. For example, devastating new viruses that will cause a computer to catch on fire and explode, or serial killers hiding in the back seats of cars. 'Sympathy hoaxes' claim that forwarding the message will somehow benefit children with cancer, or help find a missing person. Others claim that forwarding the hoax will benefit the person forwarding by earning them money or free goods. What these messages have in common is an appeal to forward them immediately to others. This is how hoaxes are spread.

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