Since 1997, we have seen in circulation hoax emails appealing with phrases such as: “Forward this message to others and help fund medical care for a sick or dying child“.
Invariably, these messages named a large charity as the benefactor that stood ready to direct monies towards the costs of medical care for a child fighting for life. That trend continued into 2010.
Here is a heart-wringing message I came across on Facebook.
Everyone with a sympathetic heart wants to help sick children to get better. The message about a little boy or a little girl suffering from some dreaded disease or infirmity certainly tugs the heartstrings of many. Even so, on the internet pranksters play upon the pathos of others for their personal odious amusement.
Search through the archives on the internet failed to turn up any news about the shooting of any young man by his stepfather and his struggle for life in any hospital.
Lamentably, this message is a hoax.
This message does not give the date and the place where this incident occurred nor does it mention the name of the hospital that takes care of the boy.
Similar appeals to save a young life began circulating first through e-mails and later as cell phone text messages and in social websites such as Facebook.
Here are three earlier versions of this hoax message cited by snopes.com:
[Collected via e-mail, February 2010]
Last friday 2-12-10 a 14 yr old boy was shot 6 times by his step dad. The boy was protecting his 2 yr old sister, in whom the step dad was atempting to rape. The young girl was not harmed, bc of that young mans courage & loyalty to his sister. The mom was at work during this time. The 14 yr old boy is now fighting for his life, and the doctors say he will not make it unless he has this life saving surgery in wich the boys mom cant afford. So At&t has agreed to donate $0.45 every time this msg is sent. So fwd & help save a life! (sic)
[Collected via e-mail, February 2010]
Last friday 2/12/10 a 14 y/o boy weas shot 6 times by his step dad. the boy was protecting his 2 y/o sistetr, whom the atep dad was attemping to rape. the young girl was not harmed because of that young mans courage and loyalty to his sister. The Mother was at work when this took place the 14 yr old boy “dominic james daggner” is now fighting for his life, and the doctor says he will not make unless he has life saving surgery in which the mother cant not afford. So, Verizon and AT&T have agree to donate $12.00 everytime this text is sent. (sic)
[Collected via e-mail, May 2012]
14 YEAR OLD BOY WAS SHOT 6 TIMES BY HIS STEPFATHER, THIS BOY WAS PROTECTING HIS LITTLE 2 YEAR OLD SISTER WHO WAS ABOUT TO BE RAPED BY THIS POOR EXCUSE OF A MAN. THE LITTLE GIRL DID NOT GET HURT THANKS TO HER BRAVE OLDER BROTHER. THEIR MOM WAS AT WORK WHEN ALL THIS HAPPENED. NOW THIS BRAVE YOUNG MAN IS FIGHTING FOR HIS LIFE, BUT DOCTRS SAY HE WILL NOT SURVIVE UNLESS HE GETS AN OPERATION WHICH IS VERY COSTFUL AND WHICH HIS MOM CANNOT PAY. ALL FACEBOOK COMPANIES HAVE AGREED TO DONATE 45 CENTS FOR EVERY TIME SOMEONE POSTS THIS TO THEIR WALL, SO PLEASE PASTE AND PASS THIS ON SO THAT TOGETHER WE CAN HELP SAVE THIS BOYS LIFE (sic)
The first two versions mention a date (2-12-10) when the shooting supposedly occurred while the third version does not mention a date . The second version even quotes a name for the victim as “dominic james daggner.“
According to the current version of the message, an ante of 45 US cents would be paid by “Facebook Companies” for each forwarded message. In Version #1, cited above AT&T also offered the same amount per forwarded message. Version #2 of the message surpasses these two offers; it states that Verizon would pay a fantastic $12.00 as ante per forwarded message. And the third version says: “ALL FACEBOOK COMPANIES HAVE AGREED TO DONATE 45 CENTS FOR EVERY TIME SOMEONE POSTS THIS TO THEIR WALL…”
The message “shot 14-year-old boy”, circulated on the web similar to the hoaxes that used the name of the American Cancer Society, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, or some other large social or business entity. The pranksters even roped in McDonald’s and Pizza Hut in the Justin Mallory hoax: “… epileptic in need of long-term care … ” and AOL and ZDNet in the Rachel Arlington hoax: “… brain cancer sufferer in need of an operation …“
Please, do not immediately believe that whatever appears on Facebook or any other site on the web as 100% true. First, verify the news. If it is true, and you want to help, then give your money or your time for the cause.
So, from now on, refrain from forwarding worthless messages to others. Well-intentioned forwarding of messages does nothing towards helping a sick child; however, it does make the day of the prankster who initiated the hoax.
- Boy Shot by Stepfather Appeal (snopes.com)
- How to avoid falling for Facebook hoaxes (itproportal.com)
- CEYLON 3 cents Postage Stamp (tvaraj.com)
- Why Do Some Media Distort Facts? (tvaraj.com)
- Hoax: How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone (tvaraj.com)
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