Return to my Logic pages
Go to my home page
© Copyright 1997, Jim Loy
Note: See the addendum at the bottom, concerning chain letters that ask for money.
Some moron just sent me a chain letter, through the mail. Supposedly he/she thought that I needed some luck. Well, it's not going to work. I refuse to pass it on.
Here's some of the letter:
... The luck has been sent to you. You will receive good luck within four days of receiving this letter, provided in turn, you send it on. This is not a joke. You will receive good luck in the mail. Send no money. Send copies to people to whom you think need good luck. Do not send money, as luck has no price. Do not keep this letter. It must leave your hands within 96 hours...
That's not particularly good writing, but it's clear enough.
Let me state this clearly: I am now breaking my part of the chain. It has now been longer than 96 hours since I got the letter. So, all of that good luck that I was supposed to get, and that good luck that you readers may want me to pass on, is dead and gone.
Even though chain letters clog up the mail (as chain email does to the Internet), they are not illegal, as long as they don't ask for money. Ones that ask for money say things like, "This is not illegal ... Don't put your return address on the envelope." Hey, it is illegal, and please put your return address on the envelope. It is mail fraud, which is a federal offense. But, you almost certainly will not be prosecuted.
Besides all this crap about good and bad luck, I am puzzled about these letters:
...Joe Elliot received $40,000.00 and lost it because he broke the chain. While in the Philippines, George Welch lost his wife 51 days after receiving the letter. He failed to circulate the letter. However, before her death he received $7,775,000.00... Constanne Dias received the chain in 1953. He asked his secretary to make twenty copies and send them. A few days later he won the lottery of Two Million Dollars. Carlo Daditt, an office employee, received the letter and forgot that it had to leave his hands within 96 hours. He Lost His job. Dallas Fairchild received the letter and not believing, he threw it away. Nine days later, he died. In 1987 the letter was received by a young woman in California. It was very faded and barely readable. She promised herself she would retype the letter and send it on, but she put it aside to do later. She was plagued with various problems, including expensive car repairs. The letter did not leave here hands within 96 hours. She finally typed the letter as promised and got a new car.
By the way, it sounds like George Welch got $7,775,000.00, even though he didn't follow the rules. Hmmm. But, his wife died, so I guess that's fair.
How did anybody know these things, so they could add them to the letter? The original letter must have been pretty simple: "This paper has been sent to you for good luck." Then there must have been instructions to send it off within 96 hours. Then somebody throws it in the trash, and dies or loses his wife (or has car trouble). Who put that information in the letter?
Let's pretend that I am one of the people who added the following info to the letter:
Someone got the letter, and threw it away, and then died.
Someone passed it on and got zillions of dollars.
As I stared at the letter, I didn't know who got the letter in the past. And I certainly didn't know who threw it away in the past. The people who got zillions of dollars, got their money after they sent off the letter. So, I never discover this info either.
Well, maybe I got zillions of dollars, or maybe a person who I sent the letter to got zillions of dollars, or threw it away and died. I may learn of such info (especially my own zillions). But, how do I get that into the letter? Maybe I start making frantic phone calls to track down all subsequent copies of the letter. Then maybe I instruct these people to add, "Jim Loy won zillions of dollars (and gave a million to his secretary, who photocopied the letter)," at the bottom of the letter. That sounds a little far-fetched, to me.
Or maybe I find out that Joe Blow, who I sent the letter to, died. How do I find out if he sent the letter on, or not? Should I call his wife, and ask, "Did he blame his death on a letter I sent him?" Yeah right. "Your honor, my husband Joe died nine days after he threw away a suspicious letter from the defendant (who became very rich, recently). I didn't see the connection, until the defendant called asking if the letter had caused his death." Sorry, I was just fantasizing there.
My guess is that some people made up all that interesting info in the letter. I wonder why they did that. They were probably tired of picking their noses.
Good luck? Bad luck? I don't believe in it. I go out of my way to make black cats cross my path. It hasn't hurt me yet. Oops! Ouch! Hey, that wasn't bad luck. I just hit my head on that ladder that I walked under.
I just thought of something. Whoever sent me this letter, probably knows that I have utter contempt for such letters, and would throw it away. So, he/she is an evil villain who is trying to kill me (or give me car trouble). Hmmm. I do have car troubles. There may be something to these chain letters, after all. I haven't died, yet. Hold on, I'll let you know if I die.
Addendum #1 (chain letters and money):
Most chain letters (email and otherwise) offer an opportunity to make money. Add your name to the list, delete the top name, and send money (I'm not sure how much money) to everyone above your name, and send the chain letter to ten (or so) other people. It should be obvious that this is a scam, and is illegal, at least through the mail. The folks who get in early make money. Later, people should find it difficult to get people to send them money.
Chain letters for money are a simple form of pyramid scheme. Let's say that I start a chain email. I send out ten emails, and let's say that five of these people send me $10. They (level two of the pyramid) send ten emails each, and five of those result in $10 to me and to them. I just made $300. Level three folks send ten emails each, and I'm rolling in dough. Soon, the chain email has reached a significant percentage of everyone on the Internet. And the money will dwindle. And people on later levels will lose money. If I had been on a later level, my investment would have been greater ($100). But still, I may have made money. Eventually the chain letter would reach me again, I may lose money this time. With the entire Internet inundated with this chain email, people are paying each other, nobody is getting rich anymore. And what is keeping me from adding my name to the list, deleting the top name, and sending NO money to everyone above your name, before sending the chain letter on to ten other people? Besides my conscience.
Presumably, some people make a lot of money on chain letters. Many people must make a little profit. And most people who send money lose. They lose a small amount, from dollars to hundreds of dollars, while some people supposedly made millions. Is that worth the risk? Maybe. But it is fraud. But you're probably not going to be prosecuted. No harm, no foul.
I just received this gem:
Subject: Traveling email
We are Seventh grade Students in Three Rivers, MI. We are doing a science project to see where and how fast e-mail can travel before April 1st, 2004. We are keeping track of how many e-mails we get back and what cities, states, and countries they are coming from. Please help us!!
There are only two steps:
1. Please send an e-mail to the following address: [deleted] In the subject of the e-mail, please include your city, state, and country. You don't have to include your name.
2. Please forward this e-mail to everyone on your mailing list. We will be keeping track of the number of responses, as well as the locations. Therefore, send them even to people in the same town. We are trying to demonstrate how fast and how far information can travel on the Internet during this period. If you receive this e-mail after April 1st, 2004 please disregard it.
Thank you very much for your help!
Mr. Smith's Science Class Three Rivers Middle School Three Rivers, MI
Harmless fun? These folks may lose their email address and Internet access, if their ISP gets swamped with replies. I replied:
This email, which seems to be from you, is a chain letter. A chain letter multiplies exponentially, and (all by itself) can plug up the Internet (or the mail if sent by mail).
Their email address didn't work. Maybe they were already shut down by their ISP.
Return to my Logic pages
Go to my home page