Tags: Don't | Fall | for | Chain | Letter | Scams

Don't Fall for Chain Letter Scams

Friday, 22 June 2007 12:00 AM

Chain letters have been a swindle for many long years.

You have probably received these dozens of times, perhaps in the mail, or even in e-mail. Thousands of people are still schemed by their "get rich quick" promises. For instance, I recently received two chain letters offers just hours apart, one in the mail and the other via e-mail. Amazing!

Most chain letters are generally set-up in the same way. First, they promise a large cash return on a very small investment. The letter or e-mail usually contains a list of names and addresses, with instructions that you send a few dollars (generally $5.00) to the person at the top of the list, then remove that name from the list, and add your own name to the bottom of the list.

Next, the chain letter may request that you mail or e-mail copies of the letter to a certain number of people, along with the directions of how they should continue the chain letter.

The chain letter attempts to hook you with this alluring premise — by the time your name gets to the top of the list, so many people will be involved that you will be deluged with cash. One common chain letter promises earnings of $50,000 or more within the next 90 days!

There's at least one problem with that assurance — chain letters are illegal if they request money or other items of value, and promise a substantial return to the participants.

Today, chain letters have gone high-tech. They are being disseminated over the Internet, or they may require the copying and mailing of computer disks.

A Quick Security Tip: According to the Untied States Postal Inspection Service, regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme, if the mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal.

Here are some chain letter awareness tips from the FTC:

Quick Security Tip: Neither the Postal Service nor the Postal Inspectors give prior approval to any chain letter!

In addition, the Postal Inspection Service offers the following chain letter advice:

Chain letters don't work because the promise that all participants in a chain letter will be winners is mathematically impossible.

Do not be fooled if the chain letter is used to sell inexpensive reports on credit, mail order sales, mailing lists or other topics. The primary purpose is to take your money, not to sell information.

A Quick Security Tip: "Selling" a product does not ensure legality of a chain letter.

Turn over any chain letter you receive that asks for money or other items of value to your local postmaster or nearest postal inspector.

A Quick Security Tip: Write on the mailing envelope of the letter, "I have received this in the mail and believe it may be illegal."

For more information about chain letters, please contact the FTC at www.ftc.gov and the Postal Inspection Service at www.usps.com.

My Final Thoughts: With today's uncertain economic conditions including high unemployment, it is highly likely that you will receive more "get rich quick" cons then ever, including illegal chain letters.

Don't get duped — always carefully check out any offers BEFORE you invest your hard earned dollars!

Note: If you manufacture or distribute any security, safety, emergency preparedness or crime prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.

Copyright 2007 by Bruce Mandelblit

"Staying Safe" with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of NewsMax.com and NewsMax.com Magazine. Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com. Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer.

Bruce writes "Staying Safe," a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety and crime prevention.

Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky colonel — the state's highest honor — for his public service. This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.

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Chain letters have been a swindle for many long years. You have probably received these dozens of times, perhaps in the mail, or even in e-mail. Thousands of people are still schemed by their "get rich quick" promises. For instance, I recently received two chain letters...
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2007-00-22
Friday, 22 June 2007 12:00 AM
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