Help Baby Natalie
Date Added: Dec. 6, 2002
Most sick child chain letters are variations on the same hoax, often borrowing text from earlier versions. This one illustrates a disturbing new trend of using a picture to tell a thousand lies.
Subject: help out aight
Hello, My name is Krista Marie and I have a new born baby named Natalie. She means the world to me, and just resently, the doctors have discovered that my little Natalie has Brain Cancer. Unfortunatly my husband and I don't have the money to pay for the bill. But my husband and I have worked out a deal with AOL and they have agreed to give us 5 cents to each person that recived this e-mail. So please, forward this to everyone you know, and help out my little Natalie and I.
If you've received a few "help a sick child" chain letters over time, you probably thought this one was familiar when you first saw it. It bears a strong resemblance to the Rachel Arlingon chain letter. As in that case, someone has attached a photo of an infant - this time in a hospital cradle - to give the story undue credibility and emotional appeal. We're to assume the child is little Natalie, though no such identification is given in the note.
In reality, the baby in the picture has nothing to do with this chain aside from the fact that some sicko thought the hoax would be more convincing with an actual kid to look at. Her real name is Megan Olivia Cronce and she is not suffering from "brain cancer." She's a healthy baby girl whose proud parents posted a picture of her on the 'net.
AOL does not - and will not - make a charitable contribution contingent on strangers forwarding a poorly written chain letter. And even if they wanted to, e-mail tracking, as it described above, does not exist. There is no reliable way they can track how many people receive it, no one is collecting signatures and there is no technology that could send such information back to AOL.
The urge to forward chains like this one is strong, especially when we believe that a small child's life may be at stake. They tug at our heart strings and pit our emotions against our common sense. Even when we doubt them, we pass them on "just in case." Besides, it can't hurt anything, can it? Well, maybe it can.
Ever wonder why someone would start a chain like this? There could be many reasons. The most obvious reason is as a joke to humiliate those inexperienced enough to fall for it. But there's another, somewhat more sinister, possibility. When you forward a chain letter, your e-mail address, and those of the people to which you send it, are attached to the message. Spammers and scammers often collect chain letters as a means to building their mailing lists. So, this message (and others like it) do no good and could actually do harm. That's reason enough for me to break this chain!