I thought that the good old chain letter was a thing of the past, until I received a letter in the mail today that invited me to participate in a pyramid scam. The scam asked me to send a $10 gift to the first name in a 5 person list, then send a letter with my name on the list to 200 people and wait for the money to roll in. I have heard it said before, that if you are tempted to commit a crime your first choice should not be to mail your name and address to 200 strangers.
It did get me interested in how prevelant traditional mail based scams still were in the day of spam and was surprised at how many hits I got on a simple google search. There are actually a number of very prolific mail scams that crop up all over the world. Considering that most scams these days are organised it was strange to see that these limited run type scams would be so common and so alike. I could not see how a scam like this could benefit an organised group without them getting caught by having their address in the scam.
I thought it might be a convenience factor, by finding a pre-written scam on the net its easier for an opportunist to use that than write their own. Then I found a website with a reprint of the scam online (I won’t post the link for obvious reasons). Besides a couple of extra references from Oprah and a retired lawyer, it also added a suggestion to get your 200 addresses from a company that sells lists of addresses.
“[company] sells a list of 200 names for only $40.00. They also ship next day C.O.D. The best part is that the names come on self-adhesive labels that you can just peel off and stick right on to your envelopes. This company also accepts Visa and MasterCard so it’s more convenient to get started.”
While I cannot link the scam to the company (so will not name them), if they are not directly linked to the scam they are probably benefiting directly from it. Its disapointing sometimes to see how many people are out there that are willing to con other people to get a quick buck.