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
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
q-seven-pi-cromwell-eleventeen-tomato" scam) ]."
-- Patrick Crispen
For more information:
Excellent article by David Spalding
on the 90# Phone Scam
Straight from the horse's mouth... er, Web page
Petition 2493: Still a Fake
about a fictional petition to stop all religious broadcasting is still going
strong — and now Dr. James Dobson is being pulled into the fray.
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
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
- 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.