There are two types of chain letters. First type is of no actual danger to anyone and involves no financial investments, still they can be very annoying and can act as a psychological stress factor for many individuals. These chain letters promise good luck, bad fortune and similar fate to you if you forward the email to X persons.
We’re gonna focus on the chain letters which involve financial investments, usually low amounts. There’s at least one problem with these type of chain letters. They’re are illegal in some but unethical in all countries of the world if they request money or other items of value and promise a substantial return to the participants. Such chain letters are a form of gambling and a form of pyramid scheme. Scammers masquerade their intentions to steal from you with various stories that can be anywhere from sweet to tragic, but we can safely say that 99.9 percent of all chain letters are scams.
How does a chain letter know how many times it’s been around the world? Does it come with a map? Does it have a visa? No, the author simply thought it sounded good to say it had been around the world a bunch of times. You can’t track an email like that. Also what you shouldn’t do is modify the letter after it has been written. It is supposed to bring bad luck, but what about the testimonials in the letter? Johnny didn’t forward the letter and the next day dogs ate his leg, he immediately remembered the letter and sent it forth to ten of his friends. Three days latter he was elected as a president. Those testimonials are fakes, written by the original authors of the chain letters. How could the information about what happened to a recipient get into the letter, after the person forwarded the letter?
Chain letters promise huge returns or tell you that not participating will bring you bad luck. Don’t let these claims blind you to the fact that chain letters are pure hoaxes. Even if you thought you could make money, would you want to do it by scamming other people who would on top of that have your address?
HOW DO THEY (NOT) WORK?
Suppose someone makes up a chain letter and sends it out to 1,000 strangers via e-mail. Lets now assume about 10 people (1%) will respond and become part of the chain. After this start-up generation there are now 11 people in the chain and 1,000 mails have been sent.
- During the first generation, each of the 10 “newbies” sends his 1,000 e-mails and gets his 10 responses. We now have 111 people in the club, and we’ve sent a total of 11,000 mails
- After the second generation, we have a total of 1,111 people in the chain and a total of 1,111,000 mails have been sent
We could go on for maximum up to the 7th generation, where our scheme would count a billion people in the pyramid, and we would have sent an astonishing ten thousand million e-mails! Then, unfortunately we have run out of meat in our planet earth! Usually chain letters have written up to five people on the list, which are all or at least most of them addresses from the originator. So as you can see the originator will suck the money from five generations and before you can buy yourself a yacht the momentum will exhaust and no fresh people will be left in the scheme. The result is a total collapse.
Lets take an example of how chain letters work with sponges. The total number of sponges you have represents the total number of people who would participate in chain letters and one sponge represents one generation of letters.
- Take out one of the sponges and set it aside, soak the rest in a bucket of water
- Take your dry sponge and set it in a bowl on the table. This sponge represents the originator of the chain mail. He’s dry because he doesn’t have any money, but this sponge has plans
- Now, take one of the wet sponges and set it on top of the dry one. This sponge represents the first generation of chain-letter recipients. Note how, over time, gravity starts acting and the water from the top sponge will flow to the bottom one. This is the money going from the recipient to the originator
- Now, add a third sponge to represent the next generation of recipients. Again history repeats itself and gravity will draw the water down towards the bottom sponge
- You can continue to add more sponges to the stack, but you’ll soon run out (nobody is left to play the game). Eventually, all of the sponges on top will be dry as a bone, while the ones at the bottom will be swimming in water, I mean money
The chain letter is like a sort of living creature. It must continually take in fresh meat to keep going. Just as in any ecosystem, however, there’s never an unlimited supply of food for the chain letter, so eventually it dies. However, before it does, those on top might have already received tons of cash.