Warnings circulating in Egypt claim that people have suffered fatal brain hemorrhages after receiving a “killer” mobile phone text message from “unknown foreign quarters” containing a special combination of numbers.
Rumours about the supposed SMS death messages began circulating after some press reports claimed that a man had died in the town of Mallawi, Egypt after receiving a text that began with the symbol “+” and ended with the number “111”. According to the rumours, those who received the deadly text message first got severe headaches and then died of brain hemorrhages.
Despite the obvious absurdity of the claims, many people have apparently taken the warning seriously, and the Egyptian government has moved to quell the rumours. The health ministry issued a statement denying that any cases of such deaths had been reported and noting that the claims “contradict all scientific facts”. Reports indicate that three oil company workers were detained and interrogated for allegedly starting the rumours.
Such foolish rumours are not unprecedented. During 2007, many people in Pakistan and Afghanistan were panicked by a hoax message that warned mobile phone users that receiving calls from certain numbers could lead to fatal brain hemorrhages due to “very high wave length and frequency”. Authorities in both countries again moved quickly to dispel the rumours and four men were subsequently arrested for starting the hoax.