This was originally sent to several journalists, the list has since been lost. The problem is believed to have originated with a story by Rajeev Syal of The Telegraph.
From: McIntyre (McIntyre[at]attrition.org) Cc: errata[at]attrition.org Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 09:50:45 -0500 Subject: Hackers did NOT steal Bill Gates' credit card info Hi all- You are getting this e-mail message because you are, in one way or another, involved in the propagation (or on the receiving end) of the news story that Curador (the Welsh-based kids who stole upwards of 65,000 credit cards) stole Bill Gate's credit card information. First off, anyone should be VERY wary of printing such a story. As near as I can tell the story originated from The Telegraph, (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=002595646834577&rtmo=aTJJ4W6J&atmo=KKKKKKY M&pg=/et/00/3/26/nhack26.html) where reporter Rajeev Syal hedged on whether or not Gray's claims were true. At least he used the word "claimed". Then Reuters picked up the story and claimed it as fact. I'd like to know how they can claim undeniably that this is true....especially when they never saw the Web site in question. As it just so happens, when all of this Curador nonsense was going on, I managed to mirror several iterations of his sites. Attrition.org has made these mirrors public at http://www.attrition.org/mirror/curador . You can view what is allegedly Bill Gates' credit card info at: http://www.attrition.org/mirror/curador/curador02022000 Let's start with the name. To my knowledge, William F Gates is the name of the foundation overseen by Bill Gates father, William H Gates Sr. (making Bill Gates, William H Gates jr.). Second, look at the phone number: 425-705-1900 ext. 1 ? I highly doubt MS is irresponsible enough to make Bill Gates' extension "1". Third, the credit card number itself: 135724689764 Come on....the first numbers 1357 all odd....the next set 2468 all even....the next number in sequential order "9" and the last two appear to be somewhat random. No credit card company is stupid enough to generate a credit card number like this for someone like Bill Gates let alone the general public. Don't even get me started on his password and "hint". What is going on with journalism today? How many more instances of irresponsible reporting do there have to be before a complete and total review of fact-checking activity in this "instant deadline" industry of online media? In fact, this is actually the second story that Reuters has gotten wrong recently. The other issue was the story of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. When "Coolio" had been taken in to the FBI, Reuters came out with a story saying that Coolio was a former member of the hacker group "Global Hell" when, in fact, about 8 other media outlets came out with similar stories mentioning nothing of the sort. 2-3 weeks prior to this event, it had been well established that Federal Law enforcement visited another hacker known as "Coolio" who was a former member of "Global Hell" but resided in Southern California. Note that the "Coolio" that was finally picked up by the FBI for 3 Web site defacements actually resided in New Hampshire. The problem is that editors and producers continue to believe in the gospel that are wire services. But in this online world where fact-checking takes more time than editors are willing to allow, quality is going right down the drain. I am ashamed to see such a story appear on so many respected media outlets with no attempt whatsoever to verify this obviously false information. I hope someone will write a retraction or counter article pointing this out.