One of the boons of the Internet is that it can be used to help those in need by spreading information quickly and widely: disseminating descriptions of missing people, raising money to treat sick folk, requesting prayers for the desperately ill, helping to fulfill the last wishes of the dying.

Unfortunately, this boon has also proved to be a double-edged sword. Appeals for help get out quickly and spread widely, but they also never go away. Our inboxes continue to be clogged with messages about missing adults who have long since been found or sick folks who have long since recovered (or died), not to mention a plethora of missives that are nothing but mean-spirited hoaxes.

Bott, Wendy:
Red bullet
Circulating an e-mail will aid the search for Wendy Bott, a missing Los Angeles filmmaker.

Cramsey, Suzanne:
Yellow bullet
Suzanne Cramsey seeks medical and financial assistance to treat her rare spider bite.

Peterson, Laci:
Red bullet
A 27-year-old pregnant woman named Laci Peterson has been missing from her Modesto, California, home since Christmas Eve 2002.

Saburido, Jacqueline:
Green bullet
Jacqueline Saburido, the victim of a drunk driving accident, seeks donations to help with the expenses of medical treatment for her extensive injuries.

Shechter, Sharon:
Green bullet
A New York mother of three named Sharon Shechter disappeared in December 2001 and is still missing.

Sheffer Appeal:
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You should send money to Donna Sheffer, head of a family claiming to have been struck down by poverty in the wake of her husband’s heart attack.

Sisco, Aaron Wade:
Multi-colored bullet
A 24-year-old Texas man named Aaron Wade Sisco is missing.

Sjodin, Dru:
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A 22-year-old University of North Dakota student named Dru Sjodin is missing.

Starr, Honey:
Yellow bullet
Honey Starr, a mother suffering from Polycystic Kidney Disease, needs your donations for a kidney transplant.

Thomas, Mrs.:
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Ten cents per e-mail forward go towards the medical care of a woman who was both widowed and injured in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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