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Rachel Arlington Charity Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Email claims that AOL and Zdnet will donate money to help a child with brain cancer every time the email is forwarded. 

Brief Analysis

The message is a hoax. AOL will not donate money just for forwarding an email. Any message that claims that money will be donated in exchange for forwarding an email is certain to be a hoax.

Example

Subject: Fw: written by a Father to save his Daughterwritten by a Father to save his Daughter !!!

The last stanza, after reading from the beginning, suddenly slows down the heart-beats..

To My Child … don’t delete AOL is tracking this) Be sure and read to the bottom portion…..

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.

Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and say how perfect it is.

Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play.

Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink, and let you teach me how to put that puzzle of yours together.

Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the telephone and keep the computer off, and sit with you in the backyard and blow bubbles.

Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble when you scream and whine for the ice cream truck, and I will buy you one if he comes by.

Just for this afternoon, I won’t worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or second guess every decision I have made where you are concerned.

Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me bake cookies, and I won’t stand over you trying to fix them.

Just for this afternoon, I will take us to McDonald’s and buy us both a Happy Meal so you can have both toys.

Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about how you were born and how much I love you.

Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub and not get angry. Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late while we sit on he porch and count all the stars.

Just for this evening, I will snuggle beside you for hours, and miss my favorite TV shows.

Just for this evening when I run my finger through your hair as you pray, I will simply be grateful that God has given me the greatest gift ever given.

I will think about the mothers and fathers who are searching for their missing children, the mothers and fathers who are visiting their children’s graves instead of their bedrooms. The mothers and fathers who are in hospital rooms watching their children suffer senselessly and screaming inside that little body

And when I kiss you good night I will hold you a little tighter, a little longer. It is then, that I will thank God for you, and ask him for nothing, except one more day………….

Hi.. I am a 29 year old father. Me and my wife have had a wonderful life together. God blessed us with a child too. Our daughter’s name is Rachel, and she is 10 years old. Not long ago did the doctors detect brain cancer in her little body. There is only one way to save her and that is an operation. Sadly we don’t have the money for the operation. AOL and Zdnet have agreed to help us. The only way they can help is this:

If you send this email to other people, AOL will track this email and count how many people get it.. Every person that opens this email and sends it to at least 3 people will give us 32c. Please help us.

George
Arlington.

 

Detailed Analysis

The Rachel Arlington hoax is just one of several malicious prank emails that claim a child or family will be helped financially if an email is forwarded. Versions of the hoax have been circulating since at least the year 2000.

As with all emails that try to convince recipients that an email is being tracked, the claims in the message are nonsense. Even if a large company like AOL did agree to help the alleged “Rachel Arlington” it is absurd to suggest that this help would depend on the pointless, haphazard and erratic forwarding of an email. 

If a given company agreed to help, it would simply donate money directly or perhaps cover medical or other expenses. It certainly would not participate in some ridiculous scheme in which the final amount to be donated hinged upon how many times a particular message was forwarded.

The concept of individual emails being “tracked” as they journey through cyberspace is a common theme among hoax emails. In reality, there is simply no reliable method of tracking the progress of an individual email message and therefore no accurate method of calculating the final amount to be donated. The logistics of tracking an email that could ultimately be forwarded thousands of times are clearly problematical at best.

Moreover, tracking an email in the way described would raise important privacy issues and it is vastly unlikely that any ethical company would knowingly participate in such an activity.

There have been several variations of the Rachel Arlington hoax. The version included above tacks on a poem written by Sally Meyer. The poem was added to the hoax message without the permission of the author. The poem, titled “Just for this day” is available in its original context on Sally Meyer’s website along with many other examples of her poetry.

In another version of the hoax, “Rachel” has been transformed into a ten-month-old baby instead of a ten-year-old. This version arrives as an image file complete with a picture of a baby wrapped in a blue ribbon.

Rachel baby charity hoax

Any message that claims that money will be donated just for forwarding an email is virtually assured to be a hoax. Forwarding such emails helps no one and serves only to waste bandwidth and clutter inboxes. 

Importance Notice

After 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 You

I 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 Date

Hoax-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!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer