This story was first published on April 18, 2007
According to this warning message, a new and destructive computer virus is targeting webmail users and arrives in an email with the subject line, “Obituary of the late Mr Common Sense… may he rest in peace”.
However, the claims in the message are untrue. There is no virus like the one described in the warning. In fact, the message is just a variant of the Life is Beautiful Virus Hoax that has been hitting inboxes since 2002.
Some of the wording of the original hoax has been changed to include references to “Mr Common Sense” rather than “Life is Beautiful” and the supposedly destructive results of the “virus” have also been modified.
The prankster was apparently inspired by a popular satirical piece called Obituary of the Late Mr. Common Sense . As the name implies, the piece laments the passing of “Common Sense”, along with some of his relatives:
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
The piece has been published on a number of websites and is also a popular blog and forum topic.
Ironically, the hoax itself may well be intended as humorous commentary like the article that inspired it. According to the message, the virus “is most likely to infect the computers of republicans, liberterians and cranky old men”. Clearly, not even the most advanced computer virus can choose its targets based on their political orientation, age, gender or general demeanour.
Thus, the “warning” may have been intended as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the original hoax. Nevertheless, submissions indicate that some recipients are apparently taking the “virus warning” at face value and believe that its claims are valid.
Virus hoaxes are one of the most “successful” types of hoaxes and often circulate continually for years. Moreover, legitimate virus warning emails sometimes mutate over time until any validity or relevance they once had is lost. Therefore, it is important to check the validity of any virus warnings that cross your inbox before you hit the “Forward” button. Otherwise, you may inadvertently help to clog the world’s inboxes with pointless and confusing misinformation.
An example of the hoax:
VERY IMPORTANT WARNING
Please Be Extremely Careful especially if using internet mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and so on This information arrived this morning direct from both Microsoft and Norton.
Please send it to everybody you know who has access to the Internet.
You may receive an apparently harmless email with a HEADING
“Obituary of the late Mr Common Sense… may he rest in peace!”
If you receive it DO NOT OPEN THE FILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, and delete it immediately. If you open this file, the original sender will gain access to your name, e-mail and password, the virus slowly degrades your computer memory and will periodically crash your operating system. The virus concels itself as conservative humor, and is most likely to infect the computers of republicans, liberterians and cranky old men.
This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon. AOL has already confirmed the severity, and the antivirus software’s are not capable of destroying it. The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself “Mr. common sense.”
PLEASE SEND A COPY OF THIS EMAIL TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS and ask them to PASS IT ON IMMEDIATELY
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!