HIV/Aids Infected Needles Hidden Under Gas Pump Handles - Internet/Facebook Rumour
Please read and forward to anyone you know who drives.
My name is Captain Abraham Sands of the Jacksonville, Florida Police Department. I have been asked by state and local authorities to write this email in order to get the word out to car drivers of a very dangerous prank that is occurring in numerous states.
Some person or persons have been affixing hypodermic needles to the underside of gas pump handles. These needles appear to be infected with HIV positive blood. In the Jacksonville area alone there have been 17 cases of people being stuck by these needles over the past five months.
We have verified reports of at least 12 others in various states around the country. It is believed that these may be copycat incidents due to someone reading about the crimes or seeing them reported on the television. At this point no one has been arrested and catching the perpetrator(s) has become our top priority.
Shockingly, of the 17 people who where stuck, eight have tested HIV positive and because of the nature of the disease, the others could test positive in a couple years.
Evidently the consumers go to fill their car with gas, and when picking up the pump handle get stuck with the infected needle. IT IS IMPERATIVE TO CAREFULLY CHECK THE HANDLE of the gas pump each time you use one. LOOK AT EVERY SURFACE YOUR HAND MAY TOUCH, INCLUDING UNDER THE HANDLE.
If you do find a needle affixed to one, immediately contact your local police department so they can collect the evidence.
********* PLEASE HELP US BY MAINTAINING A VIGILANCE AND BY FORWARDING THIS EMAIL TO ANYONE YOU KNOW WHO DRIVES. THE MORE PEOPLE WHO KNOW OF THIS THE BETTER PROTECTED WE CAN ALL BE. **********
East Coast - Warning!
In Florida and other places on the East Coast a group of people are putting HIV/AIDS infected and filled needles underneath gas pump handles, so when someone reaches to pick it up and put gas in their car, they get stabbed with it.
collected January 2013
These messages assert unscrupulous criminals are hiding HIV/AIDS infected needles underneath the handles of gas pumps in order to infect unsuspecting vehicle owners.
The messages are entirely false and have have actually been circulating the Internet for well over a decade under several guises and variations. Most notably one of the first versions of this message attributed the warning to the Jacksonville Police Department apparently issued by a Captain Abraham Sands. However the department quickly dismissed the hoax, asserting they were unaware of any such incidents taking place and that no one by the name Abraham Sands worked there.
Later versions of the message that have circulated through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, this time identifying the alleged locations of the incidents along the US East coast and Florida, Ontario, New York and in various locations across the UK and Australia.
The cautionary tale of nefariously hiding infected needles is surprisingly common though almost certainly false. So much so that this persistent hoax has essentially earned itself urban legend status. Other similar rumours have circulated the Interweb claiming that such tainted needles have also been left in fast food restaurant child ball pits, coin-return slots and on theater movie seats.
However these rumours are entirely false. The CDC notes -
CDC has received inquiries about used needles left by HIV-infected injection drug users in coin return slots of pay phones, the underside of gas pump handles, and on movie theater seats. Some reports have falsely indicated that CDC "confirmed" the presence of HIV in the needles. CDC has not tested such needles nor has CDC confirmed the presence or absence of HIV in any sample related to these rumors. The majority of these reports and warnings appear to be rumors/myths.
And whilst isolated incidents of needles being hidden in coin-return slots of payphones has been recorded in 2007 it is likely these incidents occurred as a result of these hoaxes and none of these needles were reported to have contained either the HIV or AIDS virus.
Always be cautious when out and about but it is certainly not recommended to circulate false rumours such as this that cause needless panic to those who read it.
The Internet, and social networking sites like Facebook, are perfect platforms for spreading untruths, misinformation, rumor and propaganda. Thousands of inaccurate, exaggerated, deceptive or just plain false messages are circulated every single day.
For the anti-scam community to successfully tackle this plethora of false rumours, it is important that anyone who uses the Internet be able to identify false rumours and fully understands the possible consequences of spreading false information.
We have a two part blog post that helps provide this information. Part 1 deals with how to spot and debunk Internet rumours and Part 2 deals with the reasons why you should never circulate false information.
Additionally if you have fallen for this rumour or have Facebook friends that have, you can join our growing Facebook page here.