Urban legends are tales of unlikely events or gruesome happenings which befall 'a friend of a friend', and which hover just beyond the bounds of verifiability. A large number of such legends are comprehensively debunked by the Snopes Report.
Urban legends can be seriously damaging to individuals and corporations. During the 1980s, Proctor and Gamble suffered poor publicity, due to an unfounded rumor that they were owned by the Church of Satan. Political figures are often targeted. A list of 'moron' quotes from Mad Magazine are now being forwarded via e-mail as actual George W. Bush quotes. Photos of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton looking through binoculars with the lens-cap still on is also widely distributed, though the picture was clearly doctored.(see Snopes)