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There is a quick and easy answer to this: NO!

Time and again, mailboxes get flooded with warnings about this or that virus. Invariably, many people will take the warnings at face value and obediently forward them to hundreds of their e-mail contacts.

Experts know that virtually all of these warnings are hoaxes. Hoax virus warnings are typically sent by e-mail and prompt you to forward them to as many of your contacts as possible. Here is an example:

The WOBBLER virus is spread through e-mails with “CALIFORNIA” in the subject line. IBM and AOL have announced that this virus is extremely harmful to your computer, causing even more damage than the MELISSA virus would. The CALIFORNIA virus will wipe all the data from your hard drive, and it will cripple Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. DO NOT under any circumstances open any e-mails with “CALIFORNIA” in the subject line. Please send this warning to everyone you know that uses e-mail. Right now, hardly anyone is aware of this virus so share this information as quickly as you can.

Don’t fall for fake virus warnings and make sure you don’t forward them! It can be helpful to check the HOAX info page of the Technical University of Berlin, as this website exposes and provides information on most known hoaxes.