Claim: A 15-year-old boy made $71,000 from a chain letter scheme.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2000]
Parents of 15-year old - find $71,000 cash hidden in his closet.
Does this headline look familiar? Of course it does. You most likely have seen this story recently featured on a major nightly news program (USA).
This 15 year old's mother was cleaning and putting laundry away when she came across a large brown paper bag that was suspiciously buried beneath some clothes and a skateboard in the back of her 15-year-old son's closet. Nothing could have prepared her for the shock she got when she opened the bag and found it was full of cash. Five dollar bills, twenties, fifties and hundreds - all neatly rubber-banded in labeled piles.
"My first thought was that he had robbed a bank", says the 41-year-old woman, "There was over $71,000 dollars in that bag- that's more than my husband earns in a year".
The woman immediately called her husband at the car-dealership where he worked to tell him what she'd
As it turns out, the boy had been sending out via E-mail on the Internet a type of 'chain-letter' to E-mail addresses that he obtained off of the Internet. Everyday after school for the past
"I just got the E-mail one day and I figured what the heck, I put my name on it like the instructions said and I started sending it out", says the clever 15-year-old.
The E-mail letter listed 3 addresses and contained instructions to send one $5 dollar bill to the person at the top of the list, then delete that address and move the other
Within the first few days of sending out the E-mail, the Post Office Box that his parents had gotten him for his video-game magazine subscriptions began to fill up with not magazines, but envelopes containing $5 dollar bills.
"About a week later I rode [my bike] down to the post office and my box had 1 magazine and about
Over the next few weeks, the boy continued sending out the
Surprisingly, the boy didn't have any reason to be afraid. The reporting news team examined and investigated the
Every five dollar bill that he received contained a little note that read, "Please add me to your mailing list". This simple note made the letter legal because he was exchanging a service (adding the purchasers name to his mailing list) for a five dollar fee.
Here is the letter that the 15-year-old was sending out by
Here are instructions on how to make $10,000 US cash in the next
If you don't try it - you will never know.
There are 3 addresses listed below.
Send the person at the top of the list a $5 bill wrapped in
"Please add me to your mailing list".
Then delete that name, move the other 2 up and put your name at the bottom.
Now start sending this ENTIRE e-mail back out to people. When
Then, those 400 people will move your name up to the top and they will each send out
8,000 people each sending you a $5 bill = $40,000 cash. That's if everyone responds to this
This will work for anyone, anywhere in the world in any country, but send only a US CASH $5 bill.
The more E-mails you send out, the more cash you will receive. If each person sends out
Origins: Have you seen this story? You know, the story about the $71,000 in cash earned by a 15-year-old named "boy" who lives with his mother (named "41-year-old woman") and father (named "husband") in an unidentified town (presumably the ubiquitous "Anytown, USA") that was "recently" featured on the "major" television
Of course you haven't, because nobody ran any such story. The only two real pieces of detail in this fictitious story are the age of the boy and the amount of money he earned, because they're the point of this piece: if a teenage kid can make tens of thousands of dollars right in his own home and with no real effort, so can YOU! If you have any doubts about the veracity of the claim, this story has been carefully concocted to deflect any of the expected questions you might raise. The boy's parents didn't notice the huge amount of mail he was receiving because they'd considerately obtained a private post office box just for him and his video game magazines, his mom didn't immediately find the huge amount of cash he'd hoarded because he'd craftily exchanged the smaller bills for larger ones, and the banks weren't suspicious of a mere boy having large amounts of cash because he cagily used several different banks and invented a cover excuse. Why the boy had to resort to all the subterfuge if what he was doing was perfectly aboveboard and legal is something you're apparently not supposed to consider.
This is nothing but a classic pyramid-type chain letter scam, which (even when it works) results in a few people making a lot of money at the expense of a whole lot of other people who get nothing. Despite the claims made in this e-mail, this scheme is illegal under the Postal Lottery Statute (United States Code,
It's quite possible that in the new world of computer-based commerce, your bright teenager might indeed figure out a legal way to make thousands of dollars with his PC. This isn't one of them.
Last updated: 6 January 2008