Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Warning! Crooks Have Gone Hi-Tech! (Really?)

Recently I received an e-mail from a colleague which alleged that a crime ring is handing freebies at petrol stations around the country. These freebies were alleged to contain tracking devices which allows the criminals to track and find the victims home so that they can rob them later on.

To support the allegations (and naturally to provide caution), my colleague also attached a scan of a company circular, specifically from Petronas to warn their commercial division about this, uh, threat (click for larger view).

Although personally I have never seen these criminals in action, apparently Petronas viewed this matter seriously, although the circular didn't mention whether the criminals operated at Petronas or other brands' petrol stations. Scary, eh?

However, while browsing through one of my favourite websites, Snopes.com (www.snopes.com), I stumble upon an entry entitled 'Crime Ring'. Apparently there are syndicates in Africa, specifically South Africa and Kenya, consisting of Ghanaians and Nigerians (who else?) who operated in the same modus operandi. There are also similar stories (but without naming the nationalities of the perpetrators) in Pakistan and North America. Well as the Mythbusters like to say, this story is BUSTED!

The real story is that Caltex in South Africa started to distribute flashing keyrings as part of their promotional campaign for their diesel. However hoaxers started to post e-mails stating that these keyrings were actually a clever device created by criminals in order to track their victims. Naturally Caltex was infuriated that its promotional campaign has become a victim of hoax/urban legend. The South African police have also confirmed that the e-mail is a hoax.

Now, the hoax has surfaced in Malaysia. Whilst an average Joe (since we're in Malaysia, maybe it should be 'an average Mamat') can be easily duped by such stories, it is almost unthinkable that a giant corporation also fell victim to an urban legend. OK, I understand that they are very concerned about Petronas's reputation but shouldn't they conduct an investigation first? The letterhead looks authentic enough. Perhaps my sister-in-law could help to verify whether the circular is genuine? Because, you know, someone could easily use faked letterheads in order to give authenticity to their story.

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