Break the Chain A Honey of a Story

Exclusive (3/8/2002) Different from the typical "I'm sick and need money for treatment so forward this to x number of people and company y will pay for it" type of chain letter, this plea for help is raising red flags and eyebrows everywhere - And for good reason.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

My name is Honey and I have a story. It is not the saddest story, yet it's mine. I have been working since my father died when I was 13 years old. My mother worked 3 jobs so that my brother and I would not have to go on public assistance.

My father died from a genetic disease called Polycystic Kidneys. (http://www.pkdcure.com) This is when Cysts grow all over the kidneys and get so big that they overpower the kidneys until they cannot work anymore. All of my aunts, uncles, and cousins on my father's side have died from this disease at the age of 42 and younger. I was told that my brother Jeff would die if I did not donate one of my kidneys to him. We were the only survivors of our family because of this terminal disease and I was his only hope. Unfortunately, that is how I found out that I also have Polycystic Kidney Disease and could not help him. He sadly passed away.

I have been working as a single parent holding down 2 jobs as a waitress. Within the last 3 weeks, I have had 2 operations and have another major operation in a month. My kidneys are so large they weigh over 40 pounds and must be removed because there is no room in my body for them. Once the operation is complete, I will have no kidneys and will have to live on dialysis, while waiting for a transplant. I can no longer waitress, as I have done all my life.

To have a deadly disease is difficult enough, but to know that I have passed it on to my only child, is an unbearable guilt. This is what my son has to look forward to shortly.

I have lived my whole life depending on myself and supporting my son. I never asked anyone for anything. In fact, if someone ever needed help from me I was always there financially and emotionally.

Unfortunately, I now have to ask for help. If you could spare any amount of money, even if it's just $5, it would make my life a little easier. At the very least it will help solve some financial problems so I can focus on my health. All I have now is hope. If you can help financially it would be most appreciated. If you cannot, then your prayers are more then enough. Thank you and God bless all.

Sincerely,
Honey Starr

For instructions on how to help honey, please email her at honey9531@x263.net Type "Help" in the subject line.

*** This email is a request for a gift. It is NOT a commercial advertisement. This email is being sent with the hopes of raising funds to help defray the cost of medical bills, related healthcare fees, expenses incurred from this campaign, and improve Honey's quality of life. Gifts are entirely voluntary.

A third party on behalf of Honey Starr is sending this email. To be removed from our mailing list, click here:

http://www.directnotify.com/help_honey/remove.htm

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

There are three basic possibilities with this one:

  1. The story is true and the effort is real, but misguided, or
  2. The story is a fabrication and part of an elaborate hoax.
  3. The whole thing is a scam to collect e-mail address from unwitting "unsubscribers."

Here's what we know:

  • The pdkcure.com web site has been shut down due to a violation of the host's (DirectNIC)terms of service (most likely for using mass e-mail to promote the site, prohibited in article 5g).

  • Mail to honey9531@x263.net bounces as "user unknown" (the x263.net domain belongs to a chinese free e-mail and ISP service). Those who wrote before the account was closed got a response from a Hotmail account with bank account information and an address to send checks directly to her.

  • Ms. Starr's bank confirmed her identity and that she has been hospitalized recently, but explained that the account information she was giving out was for her personal account, not a special one set up for her medical needs.

  • The address given to remove your name from the mailing list is not valid (even www.Directnotify.com returns a "page not found" error.)

  • A search for "Honey Starr" on several legitimate news sites returned no results. Certainly, if her story were true, her chosen methods alone would have captured the media's attention.

  • Soliciting money in this fashion is illegal. Charitable contributions must be carefully managed for taxation purposes.

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Polycystic Kidney Disease is a real condition and the symptoms described above are fairly accurate, though a bit simplistic and somewhat sensationalized. DiscoveryHealth.com provides an excellent description of the condition.

The facts in this case seem to indicate that Honey's (her real name is Sondra Story, Honey is a nickname) story is real and that her desperation led her to make some very bad decisions about how to raise money. But even if you were able to send her money, doing so would only get her in trouble with the IRS. There are many legitimate charitable organizations that she could have turned to for help. The American Cancer Society and the National Kidney Foundation are just two. Instead she turned to an e-mail marketing firm? It's just begs too many questions.

BreakTheChain.org recommends strongly against responding to any e-mail request for money - the scams greatly outnumber the legitimate causes. Also, always be cautious about giving any personal information (including your e-mail address) to a total stranger, even under the pretense of removing yourself from a mailing list. This is a trick that is sometimes used to get your name on other lists. Break this Chain.

What Do You Think?

Category: Spam & Scams
References: None

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