The History of the Chain letter

Chain letters are very common but extremely annoying email messages that you often receive in your inbox. But, there is actually more to chain letters than that and they started a long time before the internet.

Chain Letters Before the Internet

Before the internet there were still lots of chain letters. These were printed and then delivered to people by mail. These have been around for hundreds of years.

Perhaps the best known chain letter is the "Send a dime" letter. This letter originated in 1935 in Denver, Colorado. It is based on another good luck letter and was a very effective chain letter that resulted in the post offices in Denver being swamped with extra mail.

The scam eventually spread throughout the whole country. This scam worked by asking people to send money to the person at the top of the list and then add themselves to the list when they mail the letter on.

This chain letter worked because people felt greedy. They were all told that they would get $1562.50 for just a dime, some money photocopying and their time. This obviously eventually collapsed without paying out to everyone.

Chain Letters and the Internet

Chain letters on the internet are very similar to the print examples discussed above. Chain letters were sent through the Internet almost as soon as the Internet was born.

Many of these chain letters can seem harmless but they are very difficult to stop. Some of these aren't malicious but are still a real pain. Others are very dangerous for the health of your computer.

Some of them offer promises of rewards if you pass the email on, while others work by saying that the user will get bad luck if they fail to hand the email on. Many clever tricks are used including suggesting that certain TV shows will be cancelled or MSN will be made into a paid service unless enough people send the chain letter on.

One internet chain letter said that Mickey Mouse would kill you unless the email was sent to 25 people. While most people didn't believe this there was one reported case where someone did believe it and had to take counseling as a result.

Chain letters aren't just sent through email and you can also find them on common social networking sites such as Bebo and FaceBook.

Responding to chain letters can leave you open to scams and could also result in your computer being infected with viruses. Remember, if anything sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

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