Home    Photographic Art   Photo Classes   Order/Prices   Guestbook   Contact   Sponsorship Offerings   About Seewald  Picture Framing   Misc/Links   Portrait Pricing


One of the many public service announcements brought to by the friendly folks
at Seewald's art gallery.  Don't forget to help an artist out with a small, or large donation: donation   f o r m.

Scams, hoaxes, legends and myths:

Go down to: Petition 2493: Still a Fake

Go down to: Divorce, Is It Really 50 Percent?

Go down to: Urban Legends Madalyn Murray O’Hair

90# (semi) telephone scam.

As there seem to be so many scam warnings circulating out there, I thought it would be nice for my collectors to have a place to see if I have researched a particular one or not.  As I am not into perpetuating such mis-truths (lies to be un-politically correct), I try to stamp them out when possible with the truth.

When I rec'd a 90# scam e-mail warning from one of my collectors, it read as follows: 

"My friend sent me this letter:

'I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service technician who was conducting a test on telephone lines.   He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine(9),zero(0), the pound sign (#), and then hang up.

Luckily, I was suspicious and refused. Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone number.  I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many local jails/prisons.'

I have also verified this information with UCB Telecom, Pacific Bell, MCI, Bell Atlantic and GTE.  Please beware.  DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE.  The GTE Security Department requested that I share this information with EVERYONE I KNOW. "

I checked with the phone company, semi-doubting this could happen, and when the local Pac Bell operator said she had not heard of it, but gave me to her supervisor.  She then told me it was true!

HOWEVER, what they did not tell me was the following:  (This if from my researches on the internet afterwards, and it comes from Patrick Crispen, who researched this is depth,and can be found on the following website:)

"Well, your fearless bus driver spent most of Tuesday on the phone with folks from both Force 3 (the company that originally reported this story) and AT&T (the long distance telephone company whose logo looks an awful lot like Darth Vader's Death Star). As shocking as this may sound, the
"nine-zero-pound" story is true ... sort of.

What the warning letter floating around the Net doesn't say is that this scam only works on telephones where you have to dial 9 to get an outside line. Unless you have to dial 9 to get an outside line at home, this scam does not affect residential telephone users. Dialing "nine-zero-pound" on a residential phone will only give you a busy signal. That's it.

On some business phones, however, dialing "nine-zero-pound" may transfer a call to an outside operator and give the caller the opportunity to call anywhere in the world and charge it to your business' phone bill ... maybe. It all depends on how your business' telephone system is set up. If your company doesn't require you to dial 9 to get an outside line (for example, if you have a direct outside telephone line on your desk or if your company's phone system requires you to dial a number other than 9 to get an outside line) the "nine-zero-pound" scam does not affect you. Also, if your company's phone system is set up so that you cannot make a long distance call once you have accessed an outside line (a lot of companies now limit
all outside lines to local calls only), the "nine-zero-pound" scam does not affect you either.

The "nine-zero-pound" story only affects those businesses that require you to dial 9 to get an outside line and then place no restrictions on who or where you can call once you get that outside line. And, just to be anal-retentive, let me say one more time that, unless you have to dial 9 to
get an outside line at home, this scam does not affect residential telephone users. [ It also probably doesn't affect non-US telephone users. This is especially true for British telephone users whose telephone system is so complex that NO ONE in the UK knows how to use BT's phones (although I am sure that BT users are currently dealing with some sort of "dial
q-seven-pi-cromwell-eleventeen-tomato" scam) ]."

-- Patrick Crispen

For more information:

   Hoax du Jour
Excellent article by David Spalding
   AT&T on the 90# Phone Scam
Straight from the horse's mouth... er, Web page




Petition 2493: Still a Fake

The furor about a fictional petition to stop all religious broadcasting is still going strong — and now Dr. James Dobson is being pulled into the fray.

by Greg Hartman

You've heard about the boy who died after being pricked with a used needle hidden in a playground's ball pit, haven't you? How about that e-mail from Dr. James Dobson about the petition to outlaw all religious broadcasting? Or the one about NASA scientists who, with a ballistics computer, accidentally discovered Joshua's "missing day" (Joshua 10:12-14)?

None of these is true: They are urban legends, along with countless other snippets of American folklore. Urban legends are alive and well in the information age. Spreading rumors has always been easy, but now, with e-mail and the click of a mouse, it's possible to forward unsubstantiated information to hundreds of people at a time.

Sadly, some Christians have embraced urban legends, developing a whole catalog of fables that are often used as affirmation of our faith in the Bible or to warn of a threat against religious liberties. The problem is that by uncritically forwarding some of these e-mails, we often violate the command against bearing false witness, and we hurt the church's credibility when we then try to preach a gospel of truth.

Here are a few examples of Christian urban legends:

The petition to outlaw religious broadcasting. Every Christian in America with e-mail has probably received warnings that Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist who took credit for the 1962 Supreme Court case that removed prayer from public schools, has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission to outlaw religious broadcasting. The e-mail is often accompanied by a counter petition to be sent to the FCC. A similar rumor holds O'Hair responsible for taking the TV show "Touched by an Angel" off the air.

O'Hair was murdered in 1995. Even before then, though, this myth was easily proven false:

In 1974, two men filed a petition asking the FCC not to grant educational broadcasting licenses to religious organizations, claiming it violated the separation of church and state. The FCC rejected the petition, and that was that—except that O'Hair was soon rumored to have masterminded the petition. In reality, she never had anything to do with it.

Information about the FCC's ruling is online, at www.fcc.gov/mb/enf/forms/rm-24 93.html. To date the FCC has received more than 30 million pieces of mail about the 29-year-old petition and innumerable e-mails and faxes.

The rumor continues unabated, most recently in a new e-mail. Allegedly written by Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of the board of Focus on the Family, the e-mail urges Christians to forward it to their friends or contact the FCC and protest. Needless to say, Dr. Dobson did not initiate the e-mail; nevertheless, Focus on the Family has received thousands of calls about it.

The "Belgian Beast." In August 1976, an article in Christian Life magazine described a giant supercomputer in Belgium nicknamed "The Beast," which was being used to gather data about everyone in the world. Obviously the Antichrist would soon be using the computer and the mark of the Beast to control the world's economy. Christian Life soon received a letter from Christian author Joe Musser, who had invented the Beast for his apocalyptic novel Behold a Pale Horse (Zondervan, 1970). Musser was shocked that his fiction was being recirculated as fact. But as is often the case, the correction received little attention, and the rumor spread like wildfire.

The Siberian hole into hell. In 1990, the hosts of a Christian television talk show read a letter they had received from a man in Norway. According to the letter, scientists had drilled a 9-mile-deep hole somewhere in Siberia and had heard human screams emanating from the hole. The terrified scientists concluded they had accidentally drilled into hell, and the incident sparked a revival in Siberia.

Months later, Christian journalist and talk radio host Rich Buhler called the man who had sent the letter, who immediately confessed that the letter was a hoax! By that time, the story had circulated widely on Christian television and in print. No one else had attempted to check the facts.

These are just three of the most spectacular Christian urban legends, but many others are easily proven false.

Christians should not rush to believe, much less repeat, unsubstantiated gossip. After all, it is the glory of kings to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). As we damage our credibility, so do we damage our ability to witness to the ultimate truth of the gospel.

E-mail is a powerful tool, but its ability to quickly, widely and cheaply disseminate information is only as helpful as the information being spread. As stewards of truth for the rest of the world, Christians need to be judicious in their use of the forwarding button.



Let Every Matter Be Established
Rich Buhler, the talk radio host who exposed the hoax of the Siberian-hole-into-hell rumor, has been researching Christian urban legends for years. His Web site, www.truthorfiction.com, is a great place for Christians to check for the truth behind rumors, inspirational stories and prayer requests they get in their e-mail. Besides the Siberian story, Buhler has tackled and debunked numerous other Christian urban legends and hoaxes, including the infamous stories about

  • The 19th-century whaler who was swallowed by a whale and recovered alive, thus proving the account of Jonah.
  • Procter & Gamble's CEO being a Satanist.
  • Charles Darwin repenting of evolution and embracing Christianity on his deathbed.
  • Former Vice President Al Gore allegedly saying his favorite Bible verse was John 16:3 during a campaign speech.
  • Attorney General Janet Reno allegedly saying that anyone who believes the Bible is a dangerous cultist.
  • The American missionary on death row in West Africa after a traffic accident in which a Muslim teen was killed.
  • The University of Southern California professor who dared God to reveal himself by letting a piece of chalk drop to the floor unbroken, only to run screaming from the room when just that happened. Variations of this rumor involve a glass flask or some other object.

"I don't fault every person who spreads a rumor; not every person has the time or money or expertise to look into it," Buhler says. "But I do fault the publishers and broadcasters, no matter how small they are; even if it's a church bulletin. Anybody who publishes or broadcasts has a responsibility to put time into checking something out." Buhler says that if a story can't be verified, it should not be repeated, or it should at least include a disclaimer that the story is unsubstantiated.

On his Web site, Buhler states, "The investigation into [a] rumor is not intended to question the Bible, but rather to clarify [an] unsubstantiated and apparently fabricated . . . story."

The issue, he says, is truth. "The standard of truth should be the same everywhere: Is something true or is it not?" Buhler says. "But the stakes are very high for Christians because of whom we represent. We certainly don't want to be incredible when telling our very credible story about Christ."



Divorce, Is It Really 50 Percent?

It's a statistic we've all heard dozens of times: Half of all marriages end in divorce. But do they really? Christian urban legend expert Rich Buhler says it's the worst urban legend of them all. Go: Divorce, Is It Really 50 Percent?


Urban Legends Madalyn Murray O’Hair

How do you kill a “rumor that won't die”—such as the 20-year hoax involving Madalyn Murray O’Hair? And how do you do so in an era of copy machines, Web sites, e-mails, and news threads? The millions of pieces of mail and emotional furor it has generated over the past quarter of a century have all been needless.

The rumor lives, but Ms. O’Hair doesn't. She, along with her son and adopted daughter, disappeared in 1995, and the three were declared dead by authorities several years later.



Go to: How to protect your
private info from identity thieves.


One of the many public service announcements brought to by the friendly folks
at Seewald's art gallery.  Don't forget to help an artist out with a small, or large donation: donation   f o r m.



Hit Counter
reset 10.'08 / update info 1.21.'12


Michael Seewald Galleries
Del Mar Plaza
1555 Camino Del Mar, Ste. 312, Del Mar, California, 92014 USA 
Phone: 858.793.3444 

Open Wed. thru Sun., 2 p.m. till 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturdays till 10 p.m..
Call first if going out of your way, we sometimes close to run errands.

© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016  Michael Seewald.  All rights reserved.
Copyright Warning

No form of reproduction or manipulation, including copying or saving a digital file is permitted.
Any unauthorized usage of these images will be prosecuted to the full extent of the U.S. Copyright Law.
of the images on this site are copyrighted, and are not royalty free.
These photographs are available as 'stock images' and can be licensed for a negotiated fee.
Use of these images is not free, and is protected by domestic and international copyright law. 

If you wish to license any of Michael's Seewald's photographs seen on this site, please fill out this form. 
Soli Deo Gloria