Friday, January 04, 2008

A (paper) chain letter - how retro

Some naive person named Jimmie made the ill advised move of sending me, a scam fan, a pyramid chain letter. Now Jimmie wasn't specially singling me out, but had purchased a mailing list that had my name on it. Bummer for Jimmie: sending it to a blogger who makes a habit of analyzing these things and writing out the details.

This is a classic old school chain letter. Hard luck story turned around by participating in this simple scheme. Send one dollar to the 6 names on the list. Remove the top name and add yours at the bottom. Buy a mailing list and send out 200 copies of the letter.

Of course it includes the claims that it's legal under US Postal code, Title 18 Section 1302 which ironically, is the exact law that says this type of postal slight-of-hand is illegal.

Oh and of course "This is not a pyramid scam!!" Actually, that's exactly what it is.


This letter that I have refers to the boy making 71,000 also. Though the rocky grammar in mine makes it more special: "If a 15 years old boy ..."

Here are the names and addresses in my letter. According to the law, all these people may have broken the law. In practice, the gov't usually doesn't care unless someone actually loses money and I would be willing to bet it needs to be more than $6. According to Google maps all of the places really do exist. However, none of the names come up in telephone directory searches. My comments are in [].
  1. Stephen Growers, 701 W. Grove Parkway #160, Tempe AZ [Pinnacle Ridge Apts]
  2. Carole VanLuvender, 20 Rocky Ridge, East Stroudsburg, PA [a house]
  3. Carolyn L. Halliday, 701 Garfield St., Lamont WA [exists - can't tell what it is]
  4. Diane Thompson, 9002 W. Lisbon Ave #203, Milwaukee, WI [large apt. building]
  5. Dennis Thorne, PO Box 7423, Loveland, CO
  6. Jimmie Gaddie, 209 Risen Ave. Campbellsville, KY [exists - can't tell what it is]
Jimmie's name is last on the list and the letter came from "South Central" KY, so it's likely Jimmie is the sender.

This bit of infamy is likely all Jimmie is going to get out of the deal. What I find interesting is that if I were a scammer I would have made up the first set of 6 names and had each of the addresses be mail drops. This is why I went to the trouble to look up the addresses - I was really surprised that none of these locations was in a commercial district.

I am puzzled that I'm getting no matches on any of the names, so I started to do some searching on just the more unique last names like VanLuvender and Gaddie and I do see some correlation with the surname and the alledged location. VanLuvender has a eerie, almost spooky connection. One month ago a hunter named Lee VanLuvender of East Stroudsburg, PA was murdered and his murder is under investigation:
In the article or the obit I didn't see mention of a Carole.

I can only hope someone isn't deliberately using the names of the recently deceased to try to make money.

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