(12/14/2004) This one could very well be the granddaddy of all "free money" e-mail tracking hoaxes. Examples of it date back as far as 1999, and while it continues to circulate and morph, it is no more true now than it was then.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
To all of my friends, I do not usually forward messages, But this is from my good friend Pearlas Sandborn and she really is an attorney.
If she says that this will work - It will work. After all, What have you got to lose? SORRY EVERYBODY.. JUST HAD TO TAKE THE CHANCE!!! I'm an attorney, And I know the law. This thing is for real. Rest assured AOL and Intel will follow through with their promises for fear of facing a multimillion-dollar class action suit similar to the one filed by PepsiCo against General Electric not too long ago.
Dear Friends; Please do not take this for a junk letter. Bill Gates sharing his fortune. If you ignore this, You will repent later. Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.
When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it ( If you are a Microsoft Windows user) For a two weeks time period.
For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.
I thought this was a scam myself, But two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and withindays, I receive a check for $24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can affoard this, Bill gates is the man.
It's all marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many people as possible. You are bound to get at least $10,000.00. We're not going to help them out with their e-mail beta test without getting a little something for our time. My brother's girlfriend got in on this a few months ago. When i went to visit him for the Baylor/UT game. She showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4,324.44 and was stamped "Paid in full"
Like i said before, I know the law, and this is for real.
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
This chain started around 1998 and has been morphed into dozens of variations in its long run. The most popular variant named Intel as the corporate giant that was teaming up with AOL.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
Subject: PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE READ! - We'll see if it works...
To all of my friends, I do not usually forward messages but this is from my good friend Pearlas Sanborn and she really is an attorney... If she says that this will work - it WILL work. After all, what have you got to loose?
SORRY EVERYBODY.....JUST HAD TO TAKE THE CHANCE!!!
I'm an attorney, and I know the law. This thing is for real. Rest assured AOL and Intel will follow through with their promises for fear of facing a multimillion dollar class action suit similar to the one filed by PepsiCo against General Electric not too long ago. We're not going to help them out with their e-mail beta test without getting a little something for our time.
My brother's girlfriend got in on this a few months ago. When I went to visit him for the Baylor!/UT game. She showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4,324.44 and was stamped "Paid In Full".
Like I said before, I know the law, and this is for real. If you don't believe me you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She's eager to answer any questions you guys might have.
Intel and AOL are now discussing a merger which would make them the largest Internet company and in an effort make sure that AOL remains the most widely used program, Intel and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.
When you forward this e-mail to friends, Intel can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $203.15. For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $156.29 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $17.65.
Within two weeks, Intel will contact you for your address and then send you a check. I thought this was a scam myself, but a friend of my good friend's Aunt Patricia, who works at Intel actually got a check of $4,543.23 by forwarding this e-mail. Try it, what have you got to lose????
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
This chain has been all over the world, with versions being "regionalized" with each prospective region's big IT players and monetary units. It has also picked up several supposed "endorsements" by people with impressive-sounding credentials:
First, there's the infamous Pearlas Sanborn (or Sandborn or Sandborne). Despite my best efforts, I have been unable to locate Pearlas - an investigation that is easily frustrated by the fact that an online search for the name will literally turn up thousands of copies of this e-mail.
Some versions contain rather detailed contact information for "Kathy South Alcoa - EHS Maintenance Coordinator." This info was added around 2001.
Other versions include the signature "Charles S Bailey General Manager Field Operations" and contact information for Ernst & Young South Africa.
Newer versions claim information on this give-away "TWO PAGES OF THE TUESDAY USATODAY." It didn't, not even in the form of an article explaining that this is a hoax.
Most of these alterations are the result of False Attribution Syndrome, wherein somebody forwards a chain letter, adding his or her contact information to it and, consequently, because falsely linked to whatever the message is touting.
Here's the bottom line on this one: Microsoft and AOL have not merged, nor have Intel and Aol. And, none of them is testing some technology for tracking e-mails. E-mail tracking as it is described in these chains is impossible using current technology. Even if a company could track a message, why would they want to? Forwarding to ten people, who in turn forward to 10 people, etc., Would create a million copies in just a couple of days! Such a promotion would end up costing a company hundreds of billions of dollars each year! Not even Bill Gates can afford that. Not to mention, if such technology did exist, it would be a very frightening threat to Internet privacy.
Nonetheless, this one has proven to be a most venerable chain letter. Why, because people are greedy and lazy. If the price is right and it takes little effort on our parts, we'll do it, even if we smell a hoax. Added personal notes that express senders' doubts that the offer is real only add to the mystique and give the hoax more fuel. No such offer exists.
Some try to argue that they know its a hoax, but forwarded it because it was fun. Almost inevitably, the same question is proffered: "what can it hurt." Well, most directly, sending junk with lead to receiving junk. Forwarding e-mail chain letters exposes you and your contacts to more spam, scams and other junk mail. Don't want the junk - break this Chain!