Break the Chain!

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Chris Gunn

Jun 18, 2011, 12:08:42 AM6/18/11
Tuesday, July 22, 1997

Almost everyone with an e-mail address has received an Internet chain
letter. And those netizens that read newsgroups are used to seeing them
posted constantly. Chain letters come in all shapes and sizes. Usually,
they ask that you send a certain amount of money, either to the person at
the top of the list or to each person on the list, then send out or post
more letters yourself with your name added to the bottom of the list.
Sometimes they offer items of little value for "sale." For a small
investment, often only $5, it promises hundreds of dollars in return.

There is one major problem with chain letters, no matter how you received
them. They're illegal if they request money or other items of value and
promise a substantial return. According to the US Postal Inspection Service
(USPIS) "chain letters are a form of gambling, and sending them through the
mail (or delivering them in person or by computer but mailing money to
participate) violate Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal
Lottery Statute." If you've ever read an Internet chain letter, you
probably recognize the statute. Many chain letters claim that under Title
18 they are legal and will actually reference it in the body of the letter.
Don't believe it. According to the federal law enforcement agency in
charge of enforcing the statute, the USPIS, Title 18 makes chain letters

Chain letters are simply bad investments to begin with. Not only are they
illegal, but it is mathematically impossible for everyone to make money.
Sooner or later, there won't be enough people to support the chain.

The USPIS also warns, "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 sell information.
'Selling' a product does not ensure legality. Be doubly suspicious if
there's a claim that the US Postal Service or US Postal Inspection Service
has declared the letter legal. This is said only to mislead you. Neither
the Postal Service nor Postal Inspectors give prior approval to any chain

What should you do if you receive an Internet chain letter? First, don't
send any money. Forward any chain letter, no matter how you received it,
to your local postmaster or Postal Inspector. Make sure to write on the
mailing envelope (if you send it via regular mail) or in a separate
transmittal letter, "I received this in the mail and believe it may be

The US Postal Inspection Service provides additional information about
chain letters online as a part of the <> US Postal
Service website. There is also additional information on how to contact
the USPS and USPIS at that site.

Log on the WebSite at, or call 1-800-876-7060.
If you spot obviously illegal operations on the E-Ways, please
forward copies of the messages to NFIC at
|| The above message is auto-posted at regular intervals as a public ||
|| service by the BIZynet(tm) international business network. ||
|| For Information contact: Fred Coles or Chris Gunn ||
|| ||

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