Break the Chain Trick or Threat

Exclusive (10/23/2001) Halloween has quickly become the second most popular retail holiday in the United States (just behind Christmas). This, coupled with the holiday following on the heels of the September 11 attacks on the U.S., have inflated long-standing fears about the safety of our children.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

I spoke with another parent last night whose cousin works in the Wayne Costco. I am not sure of the validity of this story, however I thought it important and scary enough to pass it along to all. I did check SNOPES.com, but there is nothing on that site about this case, probably because it is something so local.

Last week a gentleman of middle eastern descent opened up an account at the Hackensack Costco and purchased close to $7,000 worth of candy. I guess this was not particularly alarming because many small business purchase large amounts of items at Costco. What became alarming this same person (or someone using this person's card) purchased close to $15,000 worth of addition CANDY 2 days ago at the Wayne Costco. The cashier became alarmed at this large purchase of candy and more so when the person paid cash. I'm told she was fearful and did not alert anyone in the store until after the person left and then it was reported to authorities.

I pass this along in case your children or grandchildren go trick or treating. I do not know the intentions of the person who purchased all this candy, but in today's time I do not think it is crazy to be overly cautious. The possibility of this candy being tainted and resold to unknowing discount distributors and then passed on to unknowing consumers is too great.

I called the Hackensack location (because I grew sick of the false alarms and rumors) and this information is true.

Guys be careful a notice just came to me from someone that works in Costco. 2 Arabic guys bought more than $35,000.00 dollars worth of candy, in Wayne $15,000.00 & in Hackensack $20,0000.00. After they left they found out their Costco i.d was fake, & they paid the whole thing cash. The F.B.I. was notified just be careful with your kids for trick o' treating on Halloween! I just thought u wanted to know that.

DON"T LET THOSE KIDS GO OUT FOR HALLOWEEN!

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Contrary to this letter's claim, Snopes.com does have an article on it here. The dollar value of the candy purchased varies greatly from telling to telling. This man's purchase of $15,000 worth from the Hackensack and Wayne locations is the only confirmed account. Costco officials advise that such large candy purchases are not unusual for this time of year.

Another, abbreviated version of the letter started circulating a few days after the original.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

"Please be aware. This is true. It was in the North Jersey newspaper "The Record" last Saturday.

Yesterday, 2 arabics went into the costco in Wayne, NJ and bought five thousand $ worth of candy. So costco called the cops and told them. The FBI caught one of the arabics and the other one got away with the candy. The arabic that got caught was illegally in the country and the FBI thinks the candy is a way to spread the Anthrax virus. send this to 15 people to help protect the country and our kids who will be trick or treating on October 31."

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Why "15 people?" Why not everybody you know? And why will forwarding an unsubstantiated rumor full of inaccuracies help protect the country?

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According to an article in the Saturday, October 20 issue of The Record and a follow-up on Monday, October 22, the FBI investigated this claim and took one man into custody on charges of illegal immigration (having nothing to do with the candy purchase). The candy has been located and they do not suspect any foul play, nor have they released the man's nationality. An FBI spokesperson told the paper that the FBI has no "evidence that suggests that the purchases of these items was not for legitimate purposes."

It's been a long time since Trick-or-Treating was safe (if it ever was). For years, miscreants have been attempting to harm children with poisoned candy, razor blades, needles and more. Now we're being told that Snickers bar could be carrying Anthrax? Rumors like this one feed off social fears that are undoubtedly heightened following September 11.

In recent years, shopping malls have become the safe alternative to beggar's night with kids going store-to-store for candy from employees. Unfortunately, even the malls have been branded a danger in e-mail rumors. However, law enforcement officials affirm there is no reason to expect an attack on or around Halloween. Break this Chain.

What Do You Think?


References: None

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