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Red Cross target of e-mail hoax

October 4, 2001

A HOAX e-mail claiming the public is being targeted by HIV-infected needles has embarrassed the Red Cross.

The e-mail warns people to check for syringes in cinema seats and automatic teller machines.

It has been circulated to senior health bureaucrats in all states, including SA.

The Red Cross Blood Service urged people yesterday to ignore the e-mail, which has triggered hundreds of phone calls to its offices.

The person identified as its author, Rob Bates, has been forced to leave a voicemail message referring callers to public affairs spokeswoman Carol O'Shea.

Ms O'Shea admitted yesterday the e-mail had caused pandemonium for the Red Cross.

"Someone has got into our e-mail system and sent this out," she said. "It's a hoax and people must ignore it."

The e-mail starts by saying a HIV-infected needle had been found in a Melbourne cinema seat with a note saying: "You have just been infected by HIV".

It goes on to say similar incidents have been reported in other cities, with tests showing all the needles were HIV positive.

"All public chairs or seats should be inspected with vigilance and caution before use," it says.

By COLIN JAMES, Copyright © News Limited


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