Date Added: June 20, 2005
On the web, fact and fiction intermingle, often making it very difficult to tell one from the other. Many folks' ideas of humor provokes outrage, horror and even alarm in others. This chain letter and corresponding site join a long-line of online hoaxes aimed at deriving laughs from those who are willing to believe what they read.
Check out www.savetoby.com
Either pay up, or the rabbit gets eaten. I don't know if it's a joke, or a real thing? Several friends have come across this site recently. Thought you might like to take a look.
If there was ever to be an Internet Hoax Hall of Fame, one of its first inductees would have to be Bonsai Kitten. The site, crafted as a sick joke, has been offending folks since at least 2000 and the e-mail "petition" calling for the site to be closed still circulates with gusto.
Sombody must have gleaned an important, if twisted, lesson from Bonsai Kitten: If you want to make a splash on the 'net, threaten harm to a cute animal.
Early in 2005, SaveToby.com surfaced. Much to everyone's disbelief, some sicko appeared to be asking for a ransom from the wired public or he would eat his beloved pet rabbit unless he raised $50,000 by April.
Originally, the site contained a disclaimer that it was but a joke. That notice was missed by many and has disappeared from the site entirely. Early versions of the site also included an image that supposedly showed thousands of dollars already collected in the purveyor's PayPal account. The image was a fake.
Today, the site includes a PayPal donations link that informs the visitor that "This recipient is currently unable to receive money." The deadline for Toby's supposed demise has also been pushed back to November, 2005. The site also contains a link to a online store where you can buy SaveToby.com merchandise.
SaveToby.com is modeled after a 2004 European hoax entitled "Saved Bernd," (on a site that prominently declared itself a joke) in which a similarly cute bunny faced the same fate if a ransom was not met. Nonetheless, several individuals anonymously representing themselves as the creators of the site insist that SaveToby.com is not a hoax. And, as could be expected, several others have decided to try to cash in on the outrage by creating similar sites, such as saveshelby.com and saveophelia.org.
Like Bonsai Kitten before it, SaveToby.com has gotten far more attention than it deserves. Please, break this chain.
References: Snopes.com, AnimalRights.net, About.com, TruthOrFiction.com, TobyStew.com