Fraudulent Chain Letter Scams
Most everyone has been the recipient of a chain letter which promised
riches if perpetuated and alternatively, certain doom if the cycle
were to be broken.
Chain letter schemes urge mail and now e-mail recipients to send
a small amount of money or token valuable to a list of several
people, remove one name, add their own and forward the e-mail in
bulk to others. Theoretically, the participants will start to receive
money as other, "downstream" recipients receive the e-mail
One chain letter ad extolled the potential of participating in
their "lottery ticket" chain letter scheme.
"My wife was standing over a pile of envelopes that
the mailman had dropped on the living room floor. Each had a
lotto inside!!! When the tickets finally stopped coming we had
received $117,586 in winnings!!"
Chain letters are simply low payment pyramid schemes in an envelope,
so, like them, they make money only for the first few on the list.
All the others lose their money.
That's why pyramids and chain letters deceive consumers and are
illegal under state and federal laws. Economists have estimated
that about 95% of pyramid participants lose their money.
"Don't be fooled by claims that the U.S. Postal Service has
reviewed or given approval for these schemes," warns Larry
Maxwell, Manager of the Fraud, Prohibited Mailings and Asset Forfeiture
Group of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. "Many letters
provide the correct legal citation, Title 18, Section 1302, which
negates rather than supports the legality of the scheme."
One group sends hundreds of thousands of unsolicited e-mails to
people directing them to web sites promoting the Mega$Nets and
"We know people who are making money with MegaResource. Imagine
what you can do with an extra $20 or $200 or $2,000 per month —everyone
can use extra money!!"
When you visit one of their web sites you can download copies
of the Mega$Nets software program which contains a list of five
names and addresses. The software program and web sites direct
you to send twenty dollars to each of five people listed in the
software in order for you to get yourself placed at the top of
the list of names.
According to them, upon receiving the money, the five people
on the list will send "access codes" to you. These access
codes then allow you to "unlock" the software, delete
the last name on the list, and insert your name on the top of the
They then encourage you to send unsolicited electronic mail to
other people, referring them to your own Mega$Nets web site.
"Mega$Nets is an easy to use, yet sophisticated, software
program to help the average person get in on the fabulous profits
being made in the computer networking age. . . . The potential
for you to receive a tremendous income within a remarkably short
period of time is too good to refuse!"
"The potential earnings at first could total $15,000!"
"AFTER THAT IT BECOMES AWESOME! Your next
payment in the 4th position could be $20 times 3125 which is $62,500.
Add that to your previous $15,000, and the grand total is $77,500.
When the fifth and final position is reached, your name disappears
from future duplicated disks. By then YOUR TOTAL INCOME
COULD BE $312,500!!"
It Means "Five Idiots"
One scheme, dubbed Pentagono, describes itself as an "international
program of wealth distribution" and is operated through an
Internet home page provided by an Italian company, Future Strategies
They claim to be registered with the Italian Chamber of Commerce
and Industry in Modena. They also claim that Future Strategies
is a company completely approved by the Italian authorities, operating
worldwide. There are a number of Internet web sites that post links
to the Pentagono site.
In the scheme, investors have to purchase a membership certificate
from "a friend" priced at $60 Cdn. Seven people's names
are printed on this certificate - the friend's name is on the bottom.
Once the certificate has been purchased, you are asked to send
$60 to the person who is shown in the top position. You are also
asked to send an additional $60 to Future Strategies Srl, Via Muratori
1, Carpi (Mo) 41012, Italy, to cover administrative costs.
Once this has been paid, you will receive three additional certificates
with your name in the seventh position. You must then sell each
additional certificate at $60 each. By the time your name reaches
the top of the list, the company claims a total of $131,220 can
be earned. Future Strategies says "the mathematically tested
Pentagono system represents the improvement and best synthesis
of over fifty years of experience and university studies".
The RCMP has been advised by Italian authorities
that because this scheme does not constitute a criminal offence
in Italy, but rather a violation of an administrative procedure
they will not be intervening.
Terminology Often Used in Chain Letter Promotions
There is no limit to the income you will generate from this business. You
will not regret it.
Dare to think big. Your dreams will come true. Program yourself
for success. Change your life forever.You will be glad
you did. You won't be sorry.
THIS IS A LEGITIMATE, LEGAL, MONEY MAKING OPPORTUNITY.
Follow the directions exactly and it REALLY works. Just
send 5 reports. Be patient.
Get what is rightfully yours. Program yourself for success and
dare to think BIG.
It will only take a few minutes of your time. If you don't
try it, you will never know!
Numbers do not lie! Just think of what would happen if even
a small percentage reply.
TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY once you reach the 4th Level. It's
not a chain letter but a perfectly legal MONEY-MAKING PHENOMENON.
There simply isn't a better investment with a faster return. Your
road to financial freedom.
Testimonials from major cities with at least one name appended
with designation of Esquire.
On the Lighter Side
Subject: Doggie Chain Letter
It works! It really, really works!
Are you experiencing too many reserves & second places to
inferior animals in the dog show ring?
In the obedience ring, agility ring or field, does your dog forget
his/her own name?
Well, this simple chain letter is meant to bring relief & happiness
Unlike most chain letters, it doesn't cost money.
Simply send a copy to six other dog owners who are dissatisfied
with the way their dogs are working & showing.
Also bundle up your dog & send him/her to the dog owner at
the top of the list, & add your name to the bottom of the list.
In one week, you will receive 16,436 dogs, and at least one of
them should be a keeper.
Have faith in this letter. DO NOT break the chain.
One owner broke the chain and GOT HIS OWN DOG BACK!!
Wishing Well Never Runs Dry
TURN $6.00 into $60,000...READ THIS TO FIND OUT HOW!!!!!! READING
THIS COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!!
I found this on a bulletin board like this one and decided to
try it. A little while back, I was browsing through a newsgroups,
just like you are now, and came across an article similar to this
that said you could make thousands of dollars within weeks with
only an initial investment of $6.00!
So I thought, "Yeah right, this must be a scam", but like most
of us, I was curious, so I kept reading. Anyway, it said that you
need to send $1.00 to each of the 6 names and address stated in
the article. You then place your own name and address in the bottom
of the list at #6, and post the article in at least 200 newsgroups.
(There are millions) No catch, that was it. So after thinking it
over, and talking to a few people first, I thought about trying
it. I figured: "what have I got to lose except 6 stamps and $6.00,
Then I invested the measly $6.00. Well GUESS WHAT!!... within
7 days, I started getting money in the mail! I was shocked! I figured
it would end soon, but the money just kept coming in. In my first
week, I made about $25.00. By the end of the second week I had
made a total of over $1,000.00! In the third week I had over $10,000.00
and it's still growing. This is now my fourth week and I have made
just over $42,000.00 and it's still coming in rapidly.
It's certainly worth $6.00, and 6 stamps, I have spent more than
that on the lottery!! Let me tell you how this works and most importantly,
why it works.... Also, make sure you print a copy of this article
NOW, so you can get the information off of it as you need it. I
promise you that if you follow the directions exactly, that you
will start making more money than you thought possible by doing
something so easy!
Suggestion: Read this entire message carefully! (print it out
or download it.) Follow the simple directions and watch the money
come in! It's easy. It's legal. And, your investment is only $6.00
IMPORTANT: This is not a rip-off; it is not indecent; it is not
illegal; and it is virtually no risk - it really works!!!! If all
of the following instructions are adhered to, you will receive
PLEASE NOTE: Please follow these directions EXACTLY, and $50,000
or more can be yours in 20 to 60 days. This program remains successful
because of the honesty and integrity of the participants. Please
continue its success by carefully adhering to the instructions.
You will now become part of the Mail Order business. In this business
your product is not solid and tangible, it's a service. You are
in the business of developing Mailing Lists. Many large corporations
are happy to pay big bucks for quality lists. However, the money
made from the mailing lists is secondary to the income which is
made from people like you and me asking to be included in that
list. Here are the 4 easy steps to success:
STEP 1: Get 6 separate pieces of paper and write the following
on each piece of paper "PLEASE PUT ME ON YOUR MAILING LIST." Now
get 6 US $1.00 bills and place ONE inside EACH of the 6 pieces
of paper so the bill will not be seen through the envelope (to
prevent thievery). Next, place one paper in each of the 6 envelopes
and seal them. You should now have 6 sealed envelopes, each with
a piece of paper stating the phrase "PLEASE PUT ME ON YOUR MAILING
LIST.", your name and address, and a $1.00 bill.
What you are doing is creating a service. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY
LEGAL! You are requesting a legitimate service and you are paying
for it! Like most of us I was a little skeptical and a little worried
about the legal aspects of it all. So I checked it out with the
U.S. Post Office (1-800-725-2161) and they confirmed that it is
indeed legal! Mail the 6 envelopes to the following addresses....
STEP 2: Now take the #1 name off the list that you see above,
move the other names up (6 becomes 5, 5 becomes 4, etc...) and
add YOUR Name as number 6 on the list. STEP 3: Change anything
you need to, but try to keep this article as close to original
Now, post your amended article to at least 200 newsgroups. (I
think there are close to 2.4million groups) All you need is 200,
but remember, the more you post, the more money you make! This
is perfectly legal! If you have any doubts, refer to Title 18 Sec.
1302 & 1341 of the Postal lottery laws.
Keep a copy of these steps for yourself and, whenever you need
money, you can use it again, and again. PLEASE REMEMBER that this
program remains successful because of the honesty and integrity
of the participants and by their carefully adhering to the directions.
Look at it this way. If you are of integrity, the program will
continue and the money that so many others have received will come
NOTE: You may want to retain every name and address sent to you,
either on a computer or hard copy and keep the notes people send
you. This VERIFIES that you are truly providing a service. (Also,
it might be a good idea to wrap the $1 bill in dark paper to reduce
the risk of mail theft.) So, as each post is downloaded and the
directions carefully followed, six members will be reimbursed for
their participation as a List Developer with one dollar each.
Your name will move up the list geometrically so that when your
name reaches the #1 position you will be receiving thousands of
dollars in CASH!!! What an opportunity for only $6.00 ($1.00 for
each of the first six people listed above) Send it now, add your
own name to the list and you're in business!
---DIRECTIONS ----- FOR HOW TO POST TO NEWSGROUPS------------
**REMEMBER, THE MORE NEWSGROUPS YOU POST IN, THE MORE MONEY YOU
WILL MAKE!! BUT YOU HAVE TO POST A MINIMUM OF 200** That's it!
You will begin receiving money from around the world within days!
You may eventually want to rent a P.O.Box due to the large amount
of mail you will receive.
If you wish to stay anonymous, you can invent a name to use,
as long as the postman will deliver it. **JUST MAKE SURE ALL THE
ADDRESSES ARE CORRECT.
** Now the WHY part: Out of 200 postings, say I receive only 5
replies (a very low example). So then I made $5.00 with my name
at #6 on the letter. Now, each of the 5 persons who just sent me
$1.00 make the MINIMUM 200 postings, each with my name at #5 and
only 5 persons respond to each of the original 5, that is another
$25.00 for me, now those 25 each make 200 MINIMUM posts with my
name at #4 and only 5 replies each, I will bring in an additional
Now, those 125 persons turn around and post the MINIMUM 200 with
my name at #3 and only receive 5 replies each, I will make an additional
$626.00! OK, now here is the fun part, each of those 625 persons
post a MINIMUM 200 letters with my name at #2 and they each only
receive 5 replies, that just made me $3,125.00!!!
Those 3,125 persons will all deliver this message to 200 newsgroups
with my name at #1 and if still ONLY 5 persons per 200 newsgroups
react I will receive $15,625,00! With an original investment of
only $6.00! AMAZING!
When your name is no longer on the list, you just take the latest
posting in the newsgroups, and send out another $6.00 to names
on the list, putting your name at number 6 again. And start posting
again. The thing to remember is: do you realize that thousands
of people all over the world are joining the internet and reading
these articles everyday?, JUST LIKE YOU are now!!
So, can you afford $6.00 and see if it really works?? I think
so... People have said, "what if the plan is played out and no
one sends you the money? So what! What are the chances of that
happening when there are tons of new honest users and new honest
people who are joining the internet and newsgroups everyday and
are willing to give it a try? Estimates are at 20,000 to 50,000
new users, every day, with thousands of those joining the actual
internet. Remember, play FAIRLY and HONESTLY and this will really
But Then Again Maybe It Won't
02/02 - To start off its recent crackdown against
deceptive junk e-mail or "spam”the FTC announced settlements
with seven defendants accused of running chain letter pyramid schemes
This one chain letter scam, run by seven individuals from California,
Florida, and North Dakota, attracted at least 2,000 participants
from nearly 60 countries by promising "$46,000 or more in
the next 90 days."
It even challenged recruits, who questioned the legality of the
program, to contact the FTC's associate director for marketing
practices who, in fact, indignantly emphasizes that such chain
letters are illegal.
“There's a certain common sense that consumers need to exercise
here," associate director Eileen Harrington said. “If
I knew how to make $50,000 in just a few hours in my spare time,
I certainly wouldn't be telling you about it."
The FTC said it would soon send letters to more than 2,000 individuals
who are still running the chain letter e-mail scam whose addresses
were culled from the FTC’s spam database, which receives
close to 15,000 individual pieces of forwarded spam each day.
Yet, even the FTC acknowledges the difficulty in shutting down
spam operations that can be run with a home computer on a shoestring
budget, to say nothing of the scams operating out of other countries.
A site devoted to Stop
or Break the Chain Letters.