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By Fiona Gounden
E-mails flying through the electronic ether in South Africa warning of "tracking devices" fitted into free key rings are false and fuel retailer Caltex is infuriated that its promotion at service stations has become a victim of urban myth.
The chain e-mails warn motorists against taking these free key rings from petrol attendants because "electronic gadgetry" was giving off a signal that could "be traceable".
The e-mail reads: "A man went to fill his vehicle, and the petrol attendant handed him a free key holder. When he arrived at work, he noticed something strange about the key holder. A little copper plate was noticeable.
"A sticker was on the key holder, and when he removed the sticker, a type of sim card was visible. He broke the key holder open, and inside was a small tracker working with solar power. He took it to the police, who told him that they know all about it. The criminals hand them out, follow you home and then hit."
However, police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said such claims were untrue and police are now investigating where these e-mails originated from.
"It is purely a hoax and motorists need not have any fears. Such assumptions are really ludicrous. We will definitely open criminal charges against these hoaxters once they are caught."
On Friday Caltex reassured customers that key rings being handed out at petrol stations do not have tracking devices on them and that this was part of a brand awareness campaign to promote Caltex's "Power Diesel brand", said spokesperson Miranda Anthony.
"We have been running a Caltex Power Diesel promotion through our service station network. Caltex branded key rings were issued to our diesel customers as part of this promotion. These are novelty items and have a flashing device meant to create product awareness."