Email Chain Letters – Are They Scams?

YES! Just As Illegal As Their Snail Mail Counterparts!

Chain Letter Scams

Every week I receive at least one email that contains a chain letter. Now if you have never received one, which would be unusual if you are on any type of mailing list, you can usually recognize them by their simple structure.

First they will have a statement such as “Make $400,000 in Weeks”. Some may say:

“AS SEEN ON OPRAH. MAKE MONEY RIGHT FROM YOUR COUCH! $400,000 IN YOUR PAYPAL ACCOUNT! IT WAS PROVEN ON OPRAH, DATELINE & NATIONAL TV. THIS IS COMPLETELY LEGAL!”

Others may say something similar. What ever claim they make is usually just made up, completely fabricated. The most recent ones contain a whole section on joining PayPal so you can accept credit cards. It even tells you what type of account to open.

The Set Up Instructions

The next section will have a numbered list of 5 email addresses and it will get into specific steps to take similar to these:

“Step 1. Set up your PayPal account, if you don’t already have one. IMMEDIATELY send a $50.00 donation from your PayPal account to the 1st email on the list, & include, “PLEASE ADD ME TO YOUR LIST” in the notes section.”

“Step 2. Send the other $50.00 donation from your PayPal account to the 5th email on the list – & include, “THANK YOU, I’VE JOINED” in the notes section.”

“Step 3. REMOVE the 1st email address from the list, bump the other 4 emails up 1 place each & place YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS at #5. You will receive a minimum of $1000.00 (20 replies) or more from your efforts.”

“Step 4. KEEP SENDING THE LETTER UNTIL YOU RECEIVE A MINIMUM OF 20, “THANK YOU, I’VE JOINED” REPLIES IN YOUR INBOX. DO NOT TRY TO PLACE YOURSELF IN THE 1ST POSITION! IT WILL ONLY REACH THE PEOPLE YOU SEND IT TO, AND THEN YOUR NAME WILL BE REMOVED FROM THE LIST! IF YOU DO THIS THE WAY IT WAS DESIGNED IT WILL REACH THOUSANDS BY THE TIME YOUR NAME GETS TO THE TOP!”

What It Is Going To Cost You?

As you can see in Step 1 and 2 above, this particular letter is going to cost you $100.00. $50.00 in each of the steps. This example is a little more expensive that the normal ones. Usually they are $5.00, $10.00 or $25.00. In the first step you will see the comment “PLEASE ADD ME TO YOUR LIST” which is generally placed there to make it sound somewhat legitimate.

Step 4 contains an admonition about replacing the first email address to your own and thereby start getting payments before you are supposed to. Actually there is no way of telling whether the last person that sent it to you had changed more than one email address out of the five. You could if you wanted, change all of the email addresses using different emails and opening a couple of PayPal accounts. Since they usually don’t have names and street addresses on the list, you could easily create email addresses that appear to be different people. They used to do this with chain letters that went through the regular postal service by using combinations of street addresses and post office boxes or relatives/spouses names.

So Now PayPal Is Involved In Chain Letters/Emails!

I found a new twist in the most recent one that I received. It had a second admonition in it that broke me up. It said:

“VERY IMPORTANT . . . DO NOT TRY TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE 5TH POSITION WITHOUT PAYING, AS PAYPAL WILL AUTOMATICALLY NOTICE THIS, MAY DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT, AND POSSIBLY PURSUE LEGAL ACTION! THIS IS A LEGITIMATE PROGRAM, AND THEY ARE A PART OF IT!”

Anybody that is involved with the Internet, online marketing or ever used PayPal or Ebay probably knows that PayPal is one of the largest online payment processors in the world. PayPal would not get involved in something like this as the above paragraph infers, or would they “AUTOMATICALLY NOTICE THIS”. The only truth in that paragraph is the fact if they find out you are using your PayPal account for an illegal activity they would delete your account and may pursue legal action.

The bottom line is that chain letters are illegal. The ones that are sent through the postal system are subject to prosecution on a regular basis. The FTC and other agencies include online chain letters as ones of the many scams you need to watch out for online.

So when you get one, send it right to the trash. Don’t waste your time or money on it. It is not worth it. I would be interested in your feelings about them. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Thanks
Joe Reinbold
Wealthy Affiliate Member

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