Break the Chain Can You Help Cure Cleto?

Created 5/21/2002 (5/21/2002) A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. And when that picture is of a child in need, it's also worth a thousand forwards. Sick and missing children chains are typically the hardest to break, but when there's a picture of the poor kid, they are nearly impossible to beat.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

CLETO IS A FIVE- YEAR- OLD BOY FROM BOGOTA, COLOMBIA.

HE IS SUFERING FROM A VERY RARE DECEASE "ELEPHANTIASIS CUMERDI", COMBINED WITH UNDERNURISHMENT CREATING MALFORMATION IN HIS BONES.

FOR EVERY PERSON FORWARDING THIS EMAIL, CLETO WILL GET MONETARY SUPPORT FOR HIS TREATMENT.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

I've elected not to include the photograph that is usually attached to this chain. It graphically shows a naked, badly deformed boy that we're to assume is Cleto (Though the photo is not identified as such.

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The story's glaring lack of validating information (the boy's last name, his parents, his doctors, hospital, etc.) make this one a very difficult one to research. Using the few pieces of information provided, I could find no evidence that his story is real. The proliferation of spelling errors also makes it extremely suspect.

What is probably most convincing is the fact that what the message promises is impossible. There is no way any third party can know how many people you forward it to. E-mail messages are text files that cannot effectively be tracked with existing technology. Besides, where is this "monetary support" coming from? There is no sponsor mentioned and no explanation of how or when the money will be given to his family.

Elephantiasis is a real disease with serious physical consequences. Most likely, what's happened here is someone found the gruesome photo of the boy on a website about elephantitis and decided to put a story to it. Or, somebody got the story of Cleto and decided a photo would help emphasize the apparent importance of supporting him. The picture may be compelling, but the accompanying chain letter is not. Break this chain.

What Do You Think?

Category: For the Kids
References: Encyclopedia.com

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