Superstitions abound on the internet… send this email to five more people and you will have something wondrous happen to you (beauty, riches, fame) in the next five minutes… delete it and your left arm (or something worse) will drop off. 

Why? I used to waste some of my time wondering why people want  you to continue to send their drivelly jokes or cutesy pics on to more people.

Even more strange, why do they ask you to send them back to themselves? Are they building lists  to sell to some catalogue company, or are they plotting some eventual crash and burn? (You see, you could plant a benign Trojan on each site and save them up when they’re sent back until you have millions of them; then you could hold a commercial company to ransom by threatening a mass invasion of its website.) 

Many people reading this may think, what is she on about? Or even, what is she on? 

I was just building up to setting one little urban myth straight. Doing the rounds at the moment is one of those well-meaning do-gooder emails advising you that, if you are ever forced to take money out of an ATM machine against your will, you merely enter your pin number in reverse. Result? The ATM will cough up but will also immediately alert police and they will rush to your rescue. 

“Please pass this information on to help others,” says the email in front of me. I rang the banks’ clearing association, APACS, to see what they made of it. The woman in the press office exploded into laughter and completed my half-voiced question for me. “This urban myth has been around for a couple of years,” she said, “but there seems to have been a new spate of emails lately.”

Here’s the really good bit: “I’ve even had a couple of calls from the police saying, hey, we don’t do that, do we?” she added.