(8/13/2002) This chain seems a little different than most of the hoaxes floating around because it asks you to send the money directly. With that instruction, it jumped from being a possible hoax to being a possible scam, or e-mail begging at the very least.
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
I am a 33 years old woman from Romania. I'm not a fraud and I feel very ashamed doing this. I know that is a reprehensible method but I have no other way to surpass the difficulties that I'm experiencing.
I have a 7 years old son, my husband left me and I am unemployed. I found a homework as typist but I have no money to buy a computer, even the cheapest. For this mailing I am helped by friends.
If you can, please help me even with the smallest ammount, as I can collect the money needed.
Sorry if I disturbed you. There will be no other mail.If you want to help me, my account and personal data are the followings:
[Contact information omitted]
I'll be pleased to provide you any other detail you want.
Thank from all my heart and God bless you,
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
This letter immediately reminded me of a similar plea from March 2002. I sent a message to the originating e-mail address and got the following response from Maria Serban, who describes the letter sent in early July 2002 as genuine and sincere:
"I don't know how to convince you, but everything I wrote is truth. In fact, I have much more problems but, I think, nobody is interested in someone's personal trouble.
"I had the idea to ask for help over the internet, and a friend of mine helped me with access to his computer and also with the mailing lists that, as I understood, he has procured by browsing some newsgroups.
"I received many kind of responses; some ugly, like "OK. Send your picture nude", others kindly, like "send you our best wishes and prayers for you". Somebody actually wrote me that he forwarded my mail to FBI for investigations. There was a single person who helped me with $200, that I already received.
I" want you to believe that all I wrote is the truth. I'm absolutely sure that someone will help me with the rest and, then, it will be neither letters nor complaints. I wouldn't done this if I would had another option.
"I'm very sorry for the trouble I've created."
A representative from Romania's TotalNet Internet service told BreakTheChain.org that Maria's e-mail account was "terminated," though they did not explain why (It's logical to assume it's because most e-mail providers expressly prohibit the use of their servers for letters like this one).
Banca Romaneasca SA did not respond to my inquiry about the legality of such a request or the identity of Maria Serban.
BreakTheChain.org recommends against responding to or forwarding any e-mailed request for money. As this letter demonstrates, what seemed very logical to the author has created more problems than it solved. Her e-mail account is being cancelled, she's getting harassing letters and phone calls, and could be in trouble with authorities (depending on the income tax and postal laws in Romania). Unfortunately, she believes the problems this letter created will disappear after she's gotten what she needs. But e-mail is perpetual, and her plea for help will continue to circulate for a long time. We try to be helpful, but propagating this letter will only add to her woes.
Besides, if making money was as easy as sending a heart-wrenching e-mail out and watching your account grow, none of us would have to work again. Break this Chain!