Chain Letters used to be very common as physical letters , in the days before home computing. These do still exist but almost all chain letters these days are by email.
We’ve all received email chain letters – urgent messages that warn us of computer viruses, social media fraud, money making opportunities, urgent charity requests etc. Typically, these emails will exhort you to add your name and forward them to other people – DO NOT. Press the Delete button instead.
Some chain letters can be amusing, but others may contain security threats – viruses or phishing attempts etc.
In recent years, they have appeared on social media as well. Some are carefully crafted and similar to the physical letters but some are very different, consisting of just a few lines directly pitching “Money for Nothing” schemes unashamedly. It is surprising that people fall for these such obvious frauds but some do. Unfortunately people are so used on social media to just retweeting or reposting without thought that these frauds can circulate quickly.
There are 5 main categories of chain letter:-
- A sick child story. A story about how the child needs expensive treatment that the parents cannot afford. The message asks you to donate and to pass on the message so more people can donate.
- Fake warnings e.g. that Facebook accounts can all be hacked within seconds or that a new virus is spreading or that an email with a specified title can wipe out all of your files etc.
- Big money. A promise of a large financial reward if you take a list of specified steps. This is backed up by a celebrity name e.g. Bill Gates recommends this or Beyonce swears by this etc. Sign up and also your friends but only if you act fast. Always fake.
- Petitions, which can be for something obvious such as ban all whaling or can be something very specific. In any case, the idea is to get your name and address which can then be used for a variety of fraudulent purposes.
- These used to be very common but less so nowadays. The idea is to threaten bad luck if you don’t pass on the message.
Never forward any message you are unsure about.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.